In this message, I am presenting a proposal for applying IT in developing
countries, after commenting on Dr. Heeks's message.
On Wed, 17 Apr 1996, Richard Heeks wrote:
> Abubakr Alkahlifa wrote:
> > Use it - the Internet - in empowering those 1.3 billion people with the
> > critical, vital, complex, inaccessible, and/or unavailable information
> > that they desperately lack.
> It's not information they desperately lack. It's clean water; it's
> money; and it's basic food-/income-generating technology.
The Internet can help them become healthier via a medical/nutritional
information system, more efficient and more productive through an
agricultural information system, where they can spend the same effort and
capital in having higher returns.
> By all means plan for the future, but don't do so on the assumption
> that some very recent technology should be the focus. The problem
> with this approach is that it is diverting development agencies from
> attending to real, immediate problems.
That is why I am not suggesting that we immediately divert the attention
of development agencies into IT. I am proposing that we test this
approach, if it proves efficient and effective, then we can gradually put
more focus on IT.
> For at least the next two decades, the best hope is that IT can
> somehow be used FOR the poor (i.e. within towns and cities by
> development organisations) not that it will be used BY the poor or
> even in the localities of the poor.
Only now I realize that we are talking the same language. For IT to be
used BY the poor, it may take more than two decades. Therefore, let's use
IT FOR the poor, wherever, whenever, and however IT is available.
Here is my proposal:
If we agree that it will be useful in the long-run, we can be engaged
right now in the analysis, design, coding, and testing phases of
developing these information systems (IS).
We can start right now by identifying the areas of these IS, and carrying
out their analysis phases. Collecting raw data, conducting interviews
with potential users, and meeting with experts in the fields are important
tasks that are independent of the presence of IT in rural areas. So, by
performing these tasks now, we would have accomplished the necessary
foundation for implementation in the future.
When it is time to test these IS, the NGO's, GO's, development, Volunteer,
Not for Profit, International, and other organizations who have
developmental interests can participate. They would be willing to
participate because the objectives of these IS coincide with their
developmental goals, and because they do have the necessary hardware and
trained staff in many localities of poor people in developing countries.
By the time the testing phase is over, infrastructural, technical, and
political variables in developing countries will have changed (hopefully)
to the better.
To avoid duplication of efforts, these IS can serve as a foundation for the
design of many global generic IS, which individual developing countries will
later customize to accommodate regional data, geographical and cultural
variations, and local user interfaces.
My vision is this: once these IS are tested, it may prove "profitable"
to "invest" in distributing IT in all developing countries. These systems
will indeed provide the seed of information that is absolutely necessary
to ensure continual development and ever brightening future.
Abubakr Alkhalifa "I.T. vs. Poverty"
612 Montclaire Way Graduate Student
Mobile, AL 36609 School of Computer & Information Sciences
USA University of South Alabama
Tel/Fax: (334)660-0242 [log in to unmask]