Now in our third round of GenARDIS, this morning’s workshop session was opened as the group was welcomed by exploring the question why – Why GenARDIS? Oumy Ndiaye of the CTA began the discussion by sharing her personal interest in the small grants fun, but also elaborated on its importance on a greater scale. “GenARDIS,” she explained, “is an opportunity to see things move, and seeing the good ideas being implemented on the ground.” APC Executive Director Anriette Esterhuisen continued that GenARDIS also brings together the work that organisations do at national policy and international levels, that can sometimes lose their sense without knowing how it is being reflected on the ground.
A village level awareness workshop was conducted for one day in the village of Abrha-Atsbha. Participants were represented from the surrounding sub-villages and composed of men and women of different age groups. Most of the participants were decision makers actively participating at different levels of development and social committees
The project coordinator Dr. Fetien Abay explained the objective of the project, to provide more access to women through the support of women. The Distirct ICT officer presented the importance of ICT for marketing and young farmers of the village. The village chairperson explained that internet had been in existence in the village for more than a year. However, people were not able to access it because of lack of knowledge on how to do it.
The project is called Majalisar Mata Manoma and it’s about meeting spaces for women farmers connecting with radio and mobile phones in rural zones of Nigeria. The implementing organisation is the African Radio Drama Association (ARDA), and the methodology they use is called Theatre for development (TFD), where theatre serves as a means for mobilisation and awareness of community members, particularly women.
What’s the reality on the ground?
Before starting the project ARDA carried out a baseline research in order to identify the needs of the beneficiaries. It was revealed that women had much less access to mobile phones; justifying the grant of a phone to the all-female listener club. The baseline also drew out the issues, including gender inequality, that were priorities to be addressed by the radio programme.
In the region of Uvira, Congo, women farmers are now using ICTs to learn about gender and agriculture. Through the SISSI project, local organisation IFDAP (Initiative des femmes pour le développement de l’autopromotion et la paix) formed a support group for women farmers. In early 2009, SISSI built a foundation for increased access to agricultural information by facilitating internet access to small rural women farmers. Through this and their recently launched information centre, so far, up to 150 men and women have received information on agriculture they need. SISSI also matched 60 small women farmers with mentors from other local communities to reinforce their support networks. It has been exciting to watch these women become proud citizens of our communities.
The SISSI project used a four-step approach. The four levels of intervention used were:
1) Control – Rural women farmers in Uvira gain control of the ICTs for economic sustainability.
In Ghana, the livelihood of rural women is being improved through radio and other ICTs. At the time of writing the proposal, the initial was to train some women to act as radio hosts. However, further discussions revealed that this might not be sustainable after the project funding is over. Therefore, we liaised with Nabiina FM to partner and introduce the programme with funding from the CIC for the first 30 shows. A female professional DJ, Ms Philomena Aboko, would be the host of the programme.
During the second meeting, Ms Philomena was present. She took time to train the women leaders on how to serve as panellists in a radio discussion. The weekly show comes on every Thursday, from 7 to 8pm and is dubbed “Gender Focus”.
Arulogun Ehin is a community in Lagelu Local Government Area in Oyo State, Southwestern Nigeria is a typical rural community and consists of 20 hamlets. Arulogun is not just a rural area; it is continuously ‘ruralising’ in a manner that possibly suggests that the community might not be in existence in the next few decades, as people move to the city. The community lacks all the modern amenities –there is no running water or electricity and road access is extremely poor for this farming community. Lack of ICT skill and facilities in the community means that Arulogun and its dwellers are disconnected from potential buyers of their produce and higher income for the community. Generally, the level of socio-economic activities in the community is very poor and people living in the community are predominantly illiterate and poor. An ICT project in Arulogun would require literate people to intermediate between buyers and producers.
In Zambia, the Ndola resource centre is training women on ICTs. The project aims at providing both individual and institutional capacity building to women and women based organisation in information and communication technologies (ICTs), it further builds capacity in both individuals and institutions on how to address gender issues in ICTs. Main activities carried out were surveys and needs assessments, as well as workshop and training evaluations after the sessions.
The assessment questionnaires were filled in by the participants and later analysed. Based on the analysis of the Training needs assessment, participants were grouped and a training program was prepared and distributed to the various organisations concerned. The Ndola Resource Centre team received training in open source software (i.e.
Au Burkina Faso, la FEPPASI forme présentement 30 femmes responsables de groupements féminins en l’informatique et aux multimédias. La formation de ces femmes leaders a débuté en février et des sessions de formations ont été réalisées au courant de 2009.
Pour sa mise en œuvre, dans un premier temps, une fiche d’identification des femmes participantes à la formation a été conçue et remise aux groupements membres des unions de la fédération. Après une identification des femmes par les groupements de base, les fiches sont remontées au niveau de la FEPPASI. La phase d’identification achevée, les fiches ont été traitées et transmises à Sulga Concept, la structure chargée de la formation.
Johnstone Baguma, from GenARDIS grantee ToroDev based in Uganda, attended the International Conference on Social innovations for a Better World in Our Time held, in Rome Italy, in early October 2009. There, he presented a paper on the role of ICTs in improving the economic standard of the rural poor, especially women and young people in Uganda and Africa at large. His presentation highlighted the experiences of the ICT Research & Resource Centre (Kabarole Information Centre) co-run by ToroDev and the GenARDIS project.
ToroDev was also announced winner of the Global Junior Challenge on Social Innovations 2009, for its exemplary use of ICT in rural development of the poor in the Rwenzori region of western Uganda.