I received this in response to the question about how local experts
"buy into the process" of ICT program development.
Jeff @ Washington
Wishing to remain *anonymous* - so please do not post my email
address or name.... (I was gaining the impression that the lists'
participants were too volatile for any meaningful exchange, but I will
attempt to share my thoughts..
This discussion as I see it deals with local expert participation in
the context of rural development; without sidelining issues of
appropriate technology, technology adoption, and local ownership.
It applies to IT as it does to any other technology and I write from a
Southern Africa context.
Local expert participation is difficult to entice at times... I prefer
*not* to use the model of the tender process. Even local expert
participation comes with all the problems of the consulting industry
(in any country?)..lack of ownership etc..
In my experience, I feel that its best to develop fairly strong and
mutually beneficial relations in order to gain mutual trust. Sounds
ideal and painstakingly long...however, there is no rush (our planet
is not slated to die off until 2030 according to www.dieoff.org)...
Upon 'mutual' recognition and acknowledgement of motivations,-
usually assisted by offering (and delivering) to trade expertise for
services (e.g. offering formal training or networking the local expert
with more competitive regional suppliers and other local contacts),
a sense of project committment is fostered. (this is my personal
strategy that works for me - in my pocket of this context - it may
not serve as a model for anyone else)
Again the relationship between the local expert and the project
management must be developed - with the assumption that the
project management includes broad based representation from the
community involved. I see the main challenge here - little respect
is paid to the 'local community' by technical cooperants (either
foreign or local).
Much constructive discourse/propaganda has been written about
participatory methods in the context of appropriate technology (with
merits and challenges (for starters see The Critical Villager, Putting
Last First, Mastering the Machine)), but is there more than lip
service in practice?... and are such participatory methods effective
in fostering technical adoption/ local ownership to lead towards
effective and sustainable application? - perhaps the top-down
paternalistic do-all approach of a doctor/director from yesteryear is
Anyway Local expertise, as much as any foreign technical
cooperants, may be less effective as development pracititioners -
especially if they have been relatively urban based, *and*
trained/'socialised' in environments which belittle rural lifestyles.
Unfortunately, we have had some similiar problems where
communities, who had the confidence and 'empowerment' to lobby
for due services, were ignored... That was learning experience for
the planners (learning to place emphasis on relations with local
technical cooperants as well as developing an appropriate legal
contract) - as well as for the company when the community
obtained the services of a local legal resource centre to address
On the other hand, upon developing progressive relations with local
expertise - its more feasible to get them to buy into the process.
(Even a few technical gurus have borrowed my books on/by Friere
and Bond-Stewart and tell me that they have gained much
respect for rural lifestyles/peoples ).
In providing for the long term, when the foreign technical cooperants
left, its the contract as well as the relations between the
community and the local expertise that will be integral to the
sustaining whatever the program is. Its here where the 'local
money' plays a large role - the communities concerned must be
organised to channel funds procured from technology-enabled or
related income generating activities to the servicing agent. Its also
useful to conscientise other local experts on the programs - local
experts (as much as foreign experts) tend to: be very busy; switch
companies; leave for regional/overseas contracts; and die..
-voice from zim
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