Blogs tagged as ICTs

  • GPS technology halts lagoon encroachment

    In the natural resource management arena common pool resources and open access are two aspects that are discussed at length. These topics continue to be challenging to researchers, practitioners, scientists and governments across the world. Sri Lanka is no exception.

    These challenges are clearly manifested in the small-scale lagoon fisheries sub-sector in Sri Lanka. About 116 lagoons and estuaries can be found around the island. Around 200,000 people are dependent on these intricate ecosystems for livelihoods. These lagoons and estuaries are very complex social ecological systems, posing different challenges in governing them. Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods Project (SLLP) has been jointly working with the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) to build sustainable governance of 18 lagoons in Sri Lanka. This is a really challenging project which has generated a host of lessons.

    As Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Prize winner in Economics in 2009 expressed it: “Clear property boundaries are a requirement for governing common properties”. This is the first requirement for building sustainable governance for natural resources. This process however, presents formidable challenges.

    Often, property boundaries of lagoon ecosystems are established by fixing concrete posts around their perimeters. Past lessons from Sri Lanka show that such physical demarcation of the lagoon ecosystem boundaries does not work, due to relentless illegal encroachments taking place which renders further steps in the process dysfunctional.  Landowners around lagoons possess old deeds, containing much ambiguity and lack of specific boundaries. This has been exploited by encroachers. How this happens is an interesting area for study. Often old deeds may include a clause such as; “eastern part of this land goes up to the lagoon”. This clause creates much ambiguity in defining the boundary between land and a lagoon. This ambiguity is used to advantage by encroachers by filling the edges of the lagoon and moving the concrete posts towards the lagoon. This has led to a situation where lagoon water surfaces are increasingly forced to shrink while the surrounding land is illegally extended. Finally, this gives rise to social conflicts among different users of the lagoon ecosystems resulting in small-scale lagoon fishers being victimized.

    Using GPS technology to halt lagoon encroachment in Sri Lanka

    The SLLP and DFAR began searching for alternatives, and innovatively introduced GPS technology to map-out the lagoon boundary catchment areas. This led to detailed maps being agreed upon for each lagoon for the first time. Because GPS points are indisputable and specific, the lagoons cannot be illegally encroached. Even if the concrete post are moved towards the lagoons, encroachments can be easily identified because established GPS points do not change. The process entails developing detailed maps with GPS points that will be legally declared as Lagoon Management Area. This is formalized by public Gazette notification. Subsequently, the Co-governance committee along with Lagoon Fisheries Management Committees (LFMCs) of a lagoon ecosystem can take legal action against violators in the event of illegal encroachment. This is a major deterrent to encroachers. Furthermore, these maps serve as indicators in the physical mapping of fish species and help as a monitoring tool for all stakeholders who are in the co-governance committee meetings.

    The first Gazette notification of this kind has been published for the Kokkilai lagoon. This lagoon spreads into two provinces; northern and eastern in Sri Lanka. Since this involves two different administrative divisions plus different social economic and political contexts, having clear proper boundaries has expedited the fisheries co-governance process, facilitating interactions between different stakeholders to develop a Kokkilai Lagoon governance plan. This process will further be replicated in other lagoons of the SLLP project while doubtlessly providing more lessons to improve demarcation work.

    The advantage here is that stakeholders such as fishers, farmers or extension workers can provide information to take legal action against encroachers and keep tabs on whether lagoon ecosystems are encroached by simply using of smart phones. This is an initiative that uses ICT to add value to fisheries governance.

    Using GPS technology to halt lagoon encroachment in Sri Lanka

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Mobile Data Collection System in Low Smoke Stoves Project

    Sara Eltigani Elsharif

    February 5th, 2015

     Using Mogli MRV+

    Over the years our Low Smoke Project in North Darfur has proven successes as well as meeting beneficiaries’ expectations. This project illustrates the fruitful partnership between Practical Action, Women Development Association Network (WDAN), and Carbon Clear Company to facilitate access to LPG for  poor households .We are using a revolving fund system to encourage using a clean energy source and reduce the consumption of fuel wood in urban Al-Fashir. This partnership has achieved great outcomes worth mentioning whenever the opportunity arises.

    22862

    • 7000,+ stoves in use in El-Fashir
    • First carbon credit project in Sudan
    • First Gold Standard project to use LPG
    • Improved access to modern energy
    • Reduced indoor air pollution
    • Strengthened local delivery infrastructure
    • Strengthened communities
    • Reduced regional deforestation of approx 80 kg wood/ 30 kg charcoal per household each month
    • Cuts in carbon emissions of approx 4t/CO2e per stove-yr

    A key factor of success is good planning to monitor project activities and proper distribution of roles and responsibilities among partners. The following flow chart summarizes monitoring activities:

    Low smoke stoves (2)

    As seen above local networks are responsible for completing surveys for example (Kitchen Survey Questionnaire about 4\A4 papers for 40 households every 3 months – Usage Survey Questionnaire 1\A4 paper – Leakage Assessment Questionnaire 2\A4 papers for 100 households). Practical Action staff in Al-Fashir collect all the questionnaires, translating them from Arabic to English, scanning all hard copies, and using SPSS for analysis to prepare first draft report. Then the draft report is shared with Practical Action head office in Khartoum for comments. Finally, after Carbon Clear in UK performs its role as mentioned in flow chart, the report will be sent to the Gold Standard Foundation who will issue carbon credits.

    This monitoring mechanism is effective in a small project but it’s time consuming.  Our project now seems to be expanding to rural areas in North Darfur. That’s why it’s time for a technological platform through which monitoring activities can be done faster.

    Mobile Data Collection solution (MDC) works effectively in this case. In end of 2014 MOGLI MRV+ has been used by our staff in Darfur as system runs on Android mobile devices and tablets and functions Online or Offline. Allows our staff to collect, share, and visualize geographically tagged data in real-time “GPS CAPTURE”. It can be linked with Flicker and upload pictures at the moment captured. Moreover, it provides Mobile Signature and Multi-language function.

    To know more see this video on YouTube :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyVfKFstJWQ

    MOGLI MRV+ SAVES TIME, BRINGS TRANSPARENCY & INSTANT ACCESS TO DATA.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • What’s in a name?

    Sanjib Chaudhary

    December 18th, 2014

    As we left the narrow alleys of Cusco, the natural delights of country life awaited us. The extremely beautiful countryside kept me glued to the car window throughout the journey.

    Being new to the place, for me, the most notable things on the way to Pomacanchi from Cusco were graffiti and lakes. The houses and walls that were painted with election symbols and slogans for the recently held regional and municipal elections pose stark contrast to the surrounding – a sort of visual pollution.

    However, the lovely lakes dotting the stunning landscape never let me look away. The area is famous for lakes and springs – Pomacanchi, Pampamarca, Acopia and Mosoc Llacta being the biggest and most important lakes in the area.

    A beautiful lake on the way

    A beautiful lake on the way

    Crossing Pomacanchi, the picturesque and biggest lake in the district, we arrived at the Pomacanchi District Municipality after two hours. Facing the yellow municipality building with arches is a wide square housing restaurants, parking space, flag poles, statues, benches and a small garden. We took quick sips of coffee and few bites of bread in a restaurant at the square. The local products were refreshing!

    As we walked along the corridors of the building, we were led to the Civil Registration Office. The office registers the birth and other important dates for Pomacanchi residents.

    Pomacanchi Municipality Building

    Pomacanchi Municipality Building

    Antolin, the office Chief welcomed us and showed around his office. Amidst a rack of old registers were two computers, a scanner, photocopier and a printer. Novice to the modern technology, he learned to use computers with the help of Willay Programme and started keeping the correct birth dates.

    According to Antolin, earlier it was quite difficult to register the exact dates. People used to relate the dates with some major events happening around the date and the registration had to be done manually – noting down the details in thick registers.

    When the residents came to collect the certificates, it used to take hours to find their respective certificates among the stack of old files. Adding to the woe, the spittle applied to the index finger while rummaging through the pages dabbed the certificates. Sometimes, the certificates used to get ruined in the process.

    To tackle this, the programme has developed a reliable system. Now, the data can be easily searched in the system. With the system’s help, Antolin finds the details of a beneficiary in his computer within minutes and prints the certificate instantly. He has also started scanning old certificates and recording them in the system.

    In Pomacanchi, around 200 births take place in a year. According to the National Census of Population and Dwellings 2007, the population of Pomacanchi was 8,340.

    As the terrain is difficult and people reside in remote areas, they walk even for two days on foot to get to the registration office for registering births. Earlier, they had to wait for hours to get their work done. Now, Antolin takes no more than five minutes to register a birth date. And the beneficiaries no longer need to wait for hours.

    Showing us the system, Antolin said, “It is easier and efficient with the system on place.”

    The system feeds to the national data. The programme has also developed manuals to operate the system. The municipality has a support system in place to deal with system breakdowns and errors occurring during the process.

    Along with Pomacanchi, six municipalities in Acomayo and two municipalities in Cajamarca use the system.

    Antolin, Chief of the Civil Registration Office in Pomacanchi describes the importance of birth registration.

    Antolin, Chief of the Civil Registration Office in Pomacanchi describes the importance of birth registration. (c) Practical Action/Mehrab Ul Goni

    So, what’s in a name? And why do people flock to Antolin’s office to get the name, birth date and other details registered?

    Antolin says birth registration is children’s prime right as it provides them with legal identity opening doors to other rights ranging from health care and education to participation in polls and receiving protection from state.

    As we left his office, he was feeling proud of demonstrating the usefulness of the system to visitors from other parts of the world.

    (The team visiting the Civil Registration Office in Pomacanchi, Peru included Amanda Ross from the UK, Mehrab Ul Goni from Bangladesh, Sara Eltigani Elsharif from Sudan, and Upendra Shrestha and Sanjib Chaudhary from Nepal.)

    The Willay programme in Peru began in 2007 and until 2010 focussed on promoting ICT for governance, implementing demonstration projects in San Pablo (Cajamarca) and Acomayo (Cusco), deploying telecommunications network, improving information management systems and strengthening capacities of public officials in rural areas. The programme, implemented by Practical Action, is in its third phase and aimed towards the sustainability of the system.

    The programme has been funded by Ministry of External Affairs and Cooperation –Government of Spain, Municipality of Madrid and European Commission.

    To know more, read the brochure or visit the programme’s website.

    Comments Off on What’s in a name? | Comments Off on What’s in a name?
  • Technology Justice

    Lubna Taha

    December 23rd, 2013

    The word “technology” means many things to each of us. Who does not want to use mobiles or the internet to smooth her/his life and get the information required quickly?

    As we enjoy this life changing technology in towns, there are poor people in rural areas lacking all of these technological benefits. Those people do not even know about such technologies.

    ICT4D (Information Communication Technology for Development) is nowadays established in most western universities because of the important role that ICTs can play in the field of development and humanitarian aid.

    Picture1Within Practical Action many ICT projects have taken place to benefit of poor communities, such as the energy portal website in Practical Action Peru that allows access to Practical Action offices globally and the transfers knowledge to rural communities. Also the mobile real-time application introduced by Practical Action Kenya that uses smart phones to monitor what is actually happening in the field day by day.

    In Practical Action Sudan we contributed to information management software (IWG project) which assists in decision making on programmatic and geographical interventions across the Sudan. The project maps areas in Sudan covered by UN agencies, national and international NGOS, to identify interventions, gaps and facilitate sectoral programming.

    In addition Practical Action Sudan with the cooperation of experts and telecommunication companies planned the distribution of agriculture and pastoralism techniques to beneficiaries through mobile phones.

    We now have to decide – is it part of the government’s responsibility to handle technology justice and convince the commercial sector to contribute more to enhancing the lives of poor communities?  Or is it the responsibility of INGOs to convince governments at a strategic level to play a serious role in benefiting poor communities?

    I believe it is the responsibility of every one of us trying to push for technology justice throughout Sudan, especially in the rural areas that deserve better chances and choices of technology.

    This will offer the chance of giving a new generation a better way of life.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Climb every mountain to measure mudslide risk

    Kate Mulkern

    September 8th, 2013
    Me and the mudslide measuring equipment

    Me and the mudslide measuring equipment

    This Chair’s Circle visit to Peru is going from one disaster to another.

    After seeing how communities prepared for earthquakes in Lima yesterday, we moved to mudslides in the Cusco region where the small, rural town of zurite is facing terrible dangers. Heavy rains have weakened the structure of the hills above. In 2010, a whole chunk of mountain sheared off after a hard deluge, and tore a new river, complete with boulders, through the heart of Zurite. Buildings were damaged beyond repair, and it’s a miracle no-one died.

    I climbed up to see Practical Action’s early warning system, installed recently. It’s a perfect combination of simple technology and cutting edge computer design. A video monitors any increase in ground cracks, sensors pick up movement in the soil, and all the data is analysed in situ before being automatically relayed to the town’s environmental department. This means people can be evacuated to safe places in good time when the ground starts to slide down the mountain face towards their homes.

    Zurite’s residents won’t be caught unawares again. We are acting now to reduce the loss of life and livelihood when the next heavy rains come, and as I reflect on our visit, tending my achy knees and blistered feet, I think that’s a great use of time, effort, and money.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Social media and development – opportunity or threat?

    Simon Trace

    November 16th, 2012

    On Tuesday this week I attended a conference in London sponsored by DFID, the Omidyar Network (set up by the founder of the on line shopping empire eBay) and WIRED magazine. The topic of the conference was the use of new communications technology (social media, mobile phones and the web) to promote open government, transparency, participation and development. It was a high profile conference with a video message form the UK Prime Minister and a speech by the new UK Secretary of State for Development Justine Greening. More information on the conference itself can be found at www.openup12.org or on twitter at #OpenUp12 . DFID is clearly interested in this area and used the occasion to announce a new $50m fund created together with USAID and SIDA called Making All Voices Count to support the development of web and mobile technologies in developing countries that can empower citizens.

    At the conference there were some interesting examples of social media being used to promote transparency. The Ushahidi platform which was initially developed after the violence of the 2008 Kenyan elections was one. It allows individuals to post information by SMS, MMS or via the web about election irregularities, intimidation, violence etc. to create a real time map of problems that is available on line and which can be used to force government to take action. Ushadhidi has since been used in the Ugandan and Congo elections and in various disasters including the Haitian earthquake. The Ushadhidi platform (and another simpler version called crowdmap which can be set up and used in a few minutes) are open source and can be downloaded and used for free and have the potential to be used for non-emergency situations as well where you want large numbers of people to contribute to information that could be displayed on a map (for example – latest market prices for tomatoes at different town centres or the location of broken water points or villages without electricity connections).  There was also an interesting presentation on the use of Facebook and Twitter in Nigeria to co-ordinate political protest.

    One thing that struck me during the many presentations and discussions was that, just as in the real work, in the digital world there are many technology injustices. For example, depending on whose statistics you believe, in Africa, out of a population of over 1 billion people, somewhere between 400 and 750 million people have access to a mobile phone. But the cost of use, the level of connectivity, and the availability of electricity to recharge phones means that 90% of those people use less than 1 MB of data a month (in comparison the average data consumption in Europe and the US is between 150 and 400MB per person per month). This means most people are not really able to use the technology to access and exchange information beyond the most basic level.

    It also means that when we are talking about a new wave of political engagment through the use of social media, be it during  the “Arab Spring” or the co-ordination of political protests in Nigeria, we are talking essentially about political engagment by a relatively small ‘middle class’ urban group, who has the connectivity and who can afford the telephone bills.  There is a danger, as one participant of the conference noted during a question, that we overestimate the power of social media to change the balance of power and give voice to the marginsalised. Its use (at least at the moment) is just as likely to  simply accrue more power and voice to those who already have it.

    There is also a digital technology gender injustice to contend with as 300 million more men than women have access to mobile phones world-wide.

    Practical Action is certainly not Luddite in its approach to new technology. Around the world we are increasingly using social media and the web in our programme work, most obviously in Practical Answers, where we see the use of the web and  YouTube videos in Latin America to provide information to farmers, podcasting in Peru, Zimbabwe and Nepal to get recordings out beyond the reach of the internet, SMS messaging for agricultural help lines in Nepal and Bangladesh, and mobile phone networks being used to provide advanced warning of floods in Nepal.

    But we need to remeber that social media technology alone is no panecea and cannot, without other parallel action, overcome the more fundamental causes of poverty. You can’t join a twitter protest campaign if you live in a place that has no electricity to charge your phone!

    1 Comment » | Add your comment
  • Bad news from Zimbabwe

    Rob Cartridge

    August 2nd, 2012

    A new report published today suggests that up to 1.6 million people in Zimbabwe will require food aid next year. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/aug/01/zimbabwe-food-shortages-aid

    This is an appalling position to be in. Zimbabwe used to be Southern Africa’s breadbasket – producing and exporting food but a combination of poor rainfalls and political turmoil have reduced their output dramatically. The problems are exacerbated by a lack of skills, inputs and knowledge by farmers, all of which reduces productivity.

    The response form the international development world to Zimbabwe’s downfall has been slightly mixed. The big agencies like USAID, World Bank and others, who I met recently in Harare, want to see an emphasis on support to commercial farmers. They think that, if they can get the export market up and running, some of the income will trickle down to the 1.6 million – who have very few resources.

    Practical Action believes strongly in working with those in immediate need – who may own only one cow or a goat. Helping them to make twell in Gwandahe most of their meagre resources, gives them a safety net and an ability to take their own choices. This is what we mean by a hand up and not a hand out. Our podcasting work, for example, helps people to tackle disease and get the best form their livestock. We are also working to get people access to clean water and better sanitation.

    On reading the new report my thoughts are with the women I recently met. I wonder what their fate will be, come January and February next year when the problems are due to be at their worst.

    1 Comment » | Add your comment
  • Local solutions to local problems

    Rob Cartridge

    July 30th, 2012
    Gwanda community meeting

    Gwanda community meeting

    The Secretary General of the FAO came to Harare today. According to the papers his most important message was that Zimbabwe should be seeking local solutions to local problems.

    This echoes a meeting I had with the FAO just a couple of days back. FAO are excited about our podcasting work. They are currently funding the creation of a post-harvest handbook for farmers and extension workers in the local Nbele language. Now we are talking about breaking down that manual into audio chunks – podcasts – which can be played to the local communities.

    Our meeting got exciting as I started to think about the Practical Answers website becoming a repository for podcasts in local languages from throughout the Southern African region. Part of our project is to capture the local knowledge – in danger of being lost as older generations die out. If we could harness the power of all our partner NGOs to capture this knowledge – upload it and then share it we could reach hundreds of thousands of people. To make the project sustainable we could even create a subscription service where NGOs and others contribute to the costs of the service but the information is made freely available to the people who need it.

     We’ll see how this one develops but it’s another sign of how powerful our knowledge sharing service already is, but also what the potential for further growth is.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • ICT outreach in Zimbabwe

    Rob Cartridge

    July 26th, 2012

    Gwanda knowledge nodeThe Ministry of ICT in Zimbabwe have three digital programmes. They want to encourage e-government (improving their own webistes etc.), e-learning (equipping schools) and they are interested in setting up Community Information Centres, where people can gain one stop access to a whole heap of services and information. It is this last initiative which Practical Action is interested in partnering with.

    Fibre is a relatively recent arrival in Zimbabwe – previous the only connection to the internet was via satellite and microwave links. In the last couple of years two new companies have brought the internet through fibre cable – and now all the major roads seem to have a recently completed trench at the side deomnstrating the progress of the fibre cable to different towns.

    The idea of the Ministry is to use a handful of public buildings (possibly Post Offices) to host these community information centres. Our contribution would be to create a technical information point for our Practical Answers service where people could view our technical briefs, ask questions of trained staff, view “how to” videos and listen to podcasts.

    Working with the government in Zimbabwe is of course fraught with challenges – nothing in Zimbabwe is apolitical. But equally you can’t build any kind of communications infrastructure without government endorsement. So as we go forwards we will need to ensure that whatever partnership we come to, our independence is assured.

    1 Comment » | Add your comment
  • Technology everywhere…but will it reach the poor?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As dawn breaks in 2012 we enter the season of technology forecasting.   What will new technologies bring us in 2012 and beyond?  Most of these forecasts seem to dwell on the fortunes of the developed world.   What about the majority of humanity (4 billion people live on less than US$5 per day)?

    IBM put forward five forecasts for 2016, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16302566) one of these is that the digital divide will end.   Whilst it is likely that more people in Asia and Africa will be able to own a cell phone or connect to the Internet it would be stretching credulity to suggest that these same people will have a similar level of affordability of digital technologies as those living in the developed world.   Currently, in India there are 1.2 billion people who are not connected to the Internet.   Most of these people live in rural areas where there may be a lack of ability to pay and a lack of access to electricity.   So the digital divide in terms of affordable, accessible and appropriate devices is unlikely to be at an end by 2016.   More needs to be done on energy access and on education to build the capabilities needed to use the technology.

    In remote rural areas of developing countries few people have access to electricity.   So ownership of a mobile phone might be a measure of “connectedness” or even of “progress” but if the phone can only be charged after a walk of 10 kilometres we may argue that there is a lack of appropriate accessible technology.   A second important prediction relates to bio fuel cells (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15305579) reported by the BBC as “power from the people”.   Perhaps that could be re-phrased as “power to the people”.   Yet, in all likelyhood the applications of this new technology will be in medical appliances in developed countries.   What if resources were put into developing this technology as an alternative, local power supply for rural communities in developing countries?

    Technology will likely bring much that is new and exciting in 2012 and beyond.   What can we do to increase the probability that these technologies will be applied to real need in developing countries?   We need to work together with scientists to ensure that technologies are accessible, affordable and appropriate to the needs of people.   Only then can we approach a state of technology justice in the world.

     

    1 Comment » | Add your comment