Inspired in Phnom Penh

Hanging with Samoeun Sothyro last week left me inspired and hopeful. Sothyro is is the communications manager at a small environmental NGO in Phnom Penh. He’s also the guy charged with building an online knowledge sharing network amongst IDRC-backed research organizations in Cambodia. These are groups working on everything from natural resource management to human rights law to community internet access. More Inspired in Phnom Penh

Village backbone

While in Cambodia last week, I spent two wonderful days visiting telecentres and network hubs run by the iReach project. The idea behind iReach is to create 10 telecentres in two rural areas all connected to each other by wireless broadband (10mb/sec). One of the sites has a mediumband satellite Internet connection which is then shared across all the sites. However, the Internet is not the main point. Rather, the idea is to do broadband sharing within the 10 villages, which can be up to 20 kilometres apart. More Village backbone

Telecentres, jobs … and movements

Barcelona, Spain. June 19+20. Earlier this week, about 40 people gathered in Barcelona to talk about ‘e-skills and employability’. In many ways, this was a typical meeting. Everyone attending – including host organization Fundación Esplai – was in the business of running telecentres or other community technology projects. The event helped them build new friendships, learn skills and practices from each other and, in some cases, surface opportunities to work together. However, one thing this meeting was different. The common touch point was not just the telecentres, but also a commitment to using technology to help people get jobs or start businesses. More Telecentres, jobs … and movements

A real team

Delhi, May 2007. This past week I had the pleasure to be at a Training Commons meeting in Delhi. The Training Commons started about 18 months ago as an effort to encourage telecentre organizations in India to share the material they use to train new managers and coordinators at the village level. In the end, it evolved to become a much simpler attempt to create Telecentre Management Training Materials in five areas: grassroots marketing; entrepreneurship; infomediary skills; grassroots communication; and community development. These materials are being developed by a consortium that include NASSCOM Foundation, TaraHaat, World Corps, MSSRF and Plan International. More A real team


Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 2007. While I was in Sri Lanka, Sarvodaya launched it’s new Fusion program at HQ in Moratuwa. Watching the Fusion powerpoint, it was tempting to ask: what is this? In some ways it comes across as a mishmash of telecentres, e-agriculture activities and everything else under the sun. While can be confusing at first, it makes sense. Much of Fusion’s basic logic is built around the idea of rationalizing and accelerating all of Sarvodaya’s existing ICT4D efforts (telecentres, community outreach, training, wireless, content). Over the years,these things have all spread apart with different teams, managers and offices all over the Colombo area. It was time to rope them all in and then head off in a single direction. At the most simple level, this is what Fusion is doing. More Fusing

Question-ware in rural Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, April 2007. Our main goal in going up to the Anuradhapura region of Sri Lanka was to visit a Village Information Centre (VIC). These Centres offer basic access to information through a collection of printed articles and brochures posted on a wall. Information focuses on health, education, government and, especially, agriculture. If a local person cannot find the information they need, the volunteers who staff the Centre can go into the telecentre 20 kilometres away (or make a mobile call?) to get additional information to be posted on the wall. The Centres themselves are built and financed by the local members of the Sarvodaya Society. More Question-ware in rural Sri Lanka