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AFRIK-IT  September 1996

AFRIK-IT September 1996

Subject:

FAO Report: Internet and Rural Development

From:

"Dion, David (AFCD)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Mon, 30 Sep 1996 10:11:45 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (216 lines)

        Greeting AFRIK-ITers,

        The following is an introduction to and executive summary of a report
prepared for FAO by Prof. Don Richardson of Guelph University.  Excuse
the length of the post.  However, I think you should find it
interesting.
        Regards,
        David Dion
        FAO of the UN

============================
        The Internet is not a panacea for the removal of constraints to rural
development, but it does bring new information resources and can open
new communication channels for rural communities.  It offers a means
for bridging the gaps between development professionals and rural
people through interaction and dialogue, new alliances, inter-personal
networks, and cross-sectoral links between organizations.  It can
create mechanisms that enable the bottom-up articulation and sharing
of local knowledge.

        In an effort to explore the relationship between the Internet and
rural development the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO) (http://www.fao.org) in collaboration with the
Department of Rural Extension Studies at the University of Guelph,
Canada (http://tdg.uoguelph.ca/res) sponsored a fact finding mission.
 Attached is the executive summary from a report titled The Internet
and Rural Development prepared by Dr. Don Richardson of the University
of Guelph.  The mission was organized through FAO's Programme of
Cooperation with Academic and Research Institutions, and FAO's
Sustainable Development Department's "Electronic Information Systems"
working group, with funding from FAO and the University of Guelph.

        The fact-finding mission took place between March and July of 1996,
during which time the author met with individuals and organizations in
Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Italy, South Africa,
Zimbabwe, Zambia, Senegal, Egypt, Mexico and Chile.

        This report outlines the elements of a communication for development
approach applied to the Internet and rural development, together with
recommendations for strategy and activity, and an overview of Internet
activities in developing countries. It contains a series of pilot
projects that should be of interest to the development community and
which are available on request.  A key recommendation for FAO is an
Internet and development strategy focused on rural and agricultural
communities and the intermediary agencies that serve those communities
with advice, project support, research, extension, and training.  The
cornerstone of this strategy is capacity building activities for rural
and agricultural organizations in order to create and enhance locally
managed Internet use, tools and resources.

        The recommendations and project ideas in this report may be of
interest to other development agencies which have or are interested in
supporting activities focused on developing Internet infrastructure
and applications in developing countries.  Collaboration among
agencies supporting Internet and development initiatives can achieve
important "multiplier" effects as agencies harmonize their efforts
while insuring that their particular constituencies are served.  The
goal is for development agencies, in partnership with stakeholders, to
make full use of Internet tools such as the World Wide Web and
interactive discussion tools to assist rural development efforts.

        We welcome comments and requests,  for a full copy of the report and
the project proposals please contact:
        Riccardo DelCastello, Facilitator
        Electronic Information Systems Working Group
        SDRE
        Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
        Rome, Italy
        [log in to unmask]

The full report can also be found on the WWW at this address:

http://www.fao.org/waicent/faoinfo/sustdev/CDdirect/CDDO/intro.htm

 Stein W. Bie, Director, Research, Extension and Training Division
 Sustainable Development Department
 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

======================================
Executive Summary

The Internet and Rural Development: Recommendations for Strategy and
Activity
Prepared for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (August 1996) by Dr. Don Richardson, Rural Extension Studies,
University of Guelph ([log in to unmask])
(http://tdg.uoguelph.ca/res)

"...the greatest potential of the technology lies in enabling us to do
new things.  This applies particularly to the people-centred approach
to rural development.  It calls for a review of priorities and goals
by FAO.  As many of the social prerequisites of sustainable
development have fallen between rather than within any one of the
traditional mandates of the UN technical agencies, new cooperative
programs are called for to focus on these needs - using technology,
the Internet, the World Wide Web..."
 - Bernard Woods ("Ceres", The FAO Review, No. 158 - March-April 1996)
 (http://www.fao.org/waicent/faoinfo/sustdev/DOdirect/DOEhomeB.htm)

Internet use and Internet services are expanding rapidly in developing
countries.  This expansion is, however, largely an urban phenomenon.
 People in rural areas are generally unable to take advantage of the
services available to their urban peers.  This report draws attention
to rural development initiatives made possible through Internet
services.  It highlights specific strategy and action that the Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) can adopt to
insure that rural communities and rural stakeholders benefit from the
wide variety of Internet initiatives being sponsored and funded by
international development agencies and the private sector in
developing countries.  FAO has an historic opportunity to help direct
Internet expansion, in partnership with other agencies and donors, to
meet the needs of rural and agricultural communities in developing
countries.

Many development agencies are assisting with the expansion of
indigenously managed Internet services in developing countries.  Among
them, FAO has pioneered a "communication for development" approach for
catalyzing Internet services for rural stakeholders, an approach that
 begins with the needs of people in rural and agricultural
communities.  This report recommends activity for FAO, including
expanding the use of the "communication for development" approach to
initiate pilot projects linked to indigenous rural and agriculture
organizations.  An overall strategy for FAO would support action to:

        Promote policy and regional coordination of Internet strategy for
rural development
        Establish rural Internet pilot projects
        Promote FAO's communication for development approach
        Support efforts to liberalize telecommunication policies in
developing countries
        Support local Internet entrepreneurs and other service providers in
developing countries
        Assist stakeholders in advocating for Internet service provision and
telecommunication infrastructure and policy
        improvements
        Orient existing FAO and related Internet information services to
users in developing countries
        Support rural & agriculture educational sector Internet capability
        Provide Internet awareness building and demonstration
        Support rural and remote infrastructure development
        Support creative Internet applications and information services for
rural development

All Internet initiatives must engage, as full partners in strategy
development and action, the intermediary agencies that serve rural
communities with development assistance, advice, research, extension,
education, health services and training.  Internet strategies also
need to be developed in conjunction with intended beneficiaries and
stakeholders through participatory planning techniques.

FAO can begin collaborating with other agencies in the implementation
of small pilot projects designed to foster indigenous and appropriate
use of the Internet in support of rural development.  Pilot projects
will help establish "best practices," provide avenues for sharing
"lessons learned," and act as vehicles for expanding the impact of
Internet initiatives, and enhance coordination.  Collaborators might
include:

1.  Existing Internet policy and action groups such as: the African
Networking Initiative (supported through Unesco, the International
Telecommunication Union, the International Development Research Centre
(IDRC) and Bellanet); RedHUCyT (the Organization of American States
(OAS) "Hemisphere-Wide Inter-University Scientific and Technological
Information Network";  Capacity Building for Electronic Communication
in Africa (CABECA, funded through IDRC and executed by the Pan African
Development Information System (PADIS) of the United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa (UNECA)); the UN Secretary General's Special
Initiative on Africa; the Pan-Asian Network (sponsored by IDRC); and
the Africa Internet Forum (comprising of the World Bank, USAID's
Leland Initiative, the US State Department, NASA and the United
Nations Development Programme's Sustainable Development Networking
Project).

2.      Bilateral financial organizations such as the World Bank and the
International Fund for Agricultural Development that can assist in the
development of locally relevant market information systems, and
financial assistance packages to support the development of Internet
services for rural communities.

3.      Multi-lateral and bi-lateral agencies that can assist in
co-ordinating and executing Internet activities for rural and
agricultural development.

4.      Non-governmental Organizations that specialize in the application
of Internet tools, and which can assist in providing technical
support, training, and awareness building (eg. The Internet Society,
Volunteers in Technical Assistance, SangoNet, and the Pan African
Development Information System (PADIS)).

5.      Private sector bodies that can assist in developing appropriate
technologies to provide rural and agricultural communities with
Internet services, as well as providing low-cost or donated equipment
to assist with project initiatives.

6.      Educational institutions that can support Internet activities in
rural areas in collaboration with rural stakeholders.

Today we truly live in a global village, but it is a village with
elite "information haves" and many "information have-nots."  Adopting
a proactive strategy, and acting to bring the Internet to rural and
agricultural communities in developing countries will help enable
rural people to face the unprecedented challenges brought on by the
changing global economy, dynamic political contexts, environmental
degradation and demographic pressures.  To deal with these challenges,
and to make critical decisions, people at all levels of society, and
especially the food insecure and the organizations that serve and
represent them, must be able to access critical information and
communicate.  Improved communication and information access are
directly related to social and economic development (World Bank,
1995).  Participatory development is fully dependent upon
communication and information sharing processes.

FAO can take leadership to ensure that rural and agricultural
communities link electronic "village trails" to the "information
super-highway."

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