New technology spreading appropriate technology

November 16th, 2009

Technological advancement is not always a good thing. It often excludes the poorest people. But yesterday I found a really innovative use of new technology. As I have mentioned before, at Practical Action we like to share our knowledge with people who can gain benefit from it. One of the main ways that we do this is through our technical enquiries service – Practical Answers.

Practical Answers is based on a number of different ways of working. We put lots of materials on our English language website, and we have sister websites in Spanish, Tamil and Sinhala. Materials in Bangla are due to be added soon, but internet access is still very limited in rural Bangaldesh and there is still a great preference for the spoken word.

So yesterday I visited a Gyaner Hat (literally “knowledge bazaar”) which we run in a High School in Barakhata. The school give us a room for free, and we supply a set up grant and pay the staff for a year to measure demand. From this centre a network of extension workers (mobile agricultural advisors) work, giving out advice to farmers far and wide. The extension workers earn money by offering services like pruning. The farmers gain invaluable knowledge. In this way up to 150 enquiries are answered every month.  I was able to visit one particular garden that had been created largely with the support of our team and was certainly looking very productive!

The technology comes in because an internet connection helps the extension workers to research their topic and keep up to date. And a series of videos have been produced and shown to more than 1000 farmers, giving them advice on everything from urinary problems in cows to mango tree pruning. One particularly gory video showed how to safely remove a cyst from a cow – personally I thought it was a bit of video nasty but it seems to have been popular with its target audience!

One response to “New technology spreading appropriate technology”


    I have been working for Practical Action Bangladesh for one year. And I am very much pleased to see that we have done so many thing , that is really useful for people. Practical Answers is also a nice project. It contains so many useful thing at the door of the rural people. Rob, you have visied just one, but there is still another 3, 2 of them are older, they have done excellent thing 4 rural people. The project is finished but, the RTE(Rural Technology Extetionist) is doing their work because of the r getting benifits. Lockal knowledge node has created thousand of example for others. Thanks a lot for your write-up.

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