Announcing the finalists for GenARDIS round 3

Information is power. Accessing updated information on market prices though a mobile phone or a telecentre can helpsmall scale farmers to sell their products at better prices and can thus potentially increase the income for their whole families. There are some development initiatives trying to make information and commmunication technologies (ICTs) more accesible to rural and remote areas but women are being left out of this empowering process. In order to address this gap, taking into account how men and women use these tools differently, the Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development in the Information Society (GenARDIS) small grants fund is supporting fifteen initiatives from African, Pacific and Caribbean countries.

But GenARDIS is more than a small grants fund: it’s becoming a community of people committed to empowering rural women through ICTs and challenging the gender relations that are marginalising them. Twenty finalists got together in September 2008 to share knowledge and experiences. “We were able to realise our strengths and weaknesses and how to improve on our approaches to integrating gender issues to development,” wrote a GenARDIS grantee on the website. “It’s a wonderful team and I think all of us will continue networking,” posted another grantee to the active GenARDIS mailing list, where useful resources on training, project formulation and gender are shared.

After the workshop all the proposals were reworked, and new learnigs were incorporated. The jury faced a tough task when selecting the fifteen final grantees. They will be all working hard during 2009, the year in which their projects will be implemented The final list is:

  • Benin, Use of ICTs for popularising agricultural information and building production and management capacity with two groups of women producers and product transformers
  • Burkina Faso, Initiating 30 women in charge of 15 women groups (members of FEPPASI) to computing

  • Burundi, Setting up a rural women’s network in order to increase information exchange, to sensitise people to appropriate agro-pastoral technologies and for advocacy
  • Cameroon, Promoting the use of ICTs for market information exchange among women producers in Cameroon
  • Democratic Republic of Congo, Sisters Informing and Supporting Sisters Initiative (SISSI): Increasing the agricultural productivity and profitability through ICT and partnerships in Small-Scale Rural Women Farmers of Uvira
  • Dominican Republic, Empowering women in managing rural cooperatives with relevant ICTs and e-business tools
  • Ethiopia, Women innovators document their own innovation and experimentation in Tigray Region of northern Ethiopia
  • Ghana, eWomen in Development Leadership
  • Ghana, Gender Issues and Women’s Livelihoods Improvement Project
  • Nigeria, Building the ICT capacity of women teachers in a rural community in Nigeria to communicate agricultural information
  • Nigeria, “Majelissa yan Mata Manoma!”: A meeting place for Hausa Women Farmers on FM Radio
  • Tanzania, ICT and women empowerment in crop marketing in Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania
  • Togo, Strengthening rural women’s access to ICTs in Kpélé-Akata, where ICTs are understood as tools for economic and community education development
  • Uganda, Increasing Small-Scale Women Farmers’ Revenues in Kabarole and Kyenjojo Districts of Western Uganda by Using Sustainable ICT4D-Enabled Production and Marketing Tools
  • Zambia, ICT Women Co-operative Group
  • Comment by Appolinaire Tagne, another GenARDIS grantee

    To my opinion information is remaining an important tool to fight again poverty in rural community. Consequently The relevance and usefulness of information are keys of poverty alleviation.
    In a rural community, we should not thing far to what is in the internet. I believe strongly that what is in the internet is serving the world community.

    In the Onlanla village there should be a system of information related to cassava using the accessible ICT not necessarily the internet..

    What will be important is how best this will help and serve the needs of local population to the best of their knowledge…

    Tomorow we might found information on cassava from the Onlanla village on the internet but presently it may need sometimes….. Yet have to think about an information system adapted to the Onlanla village agriculture may be for the availability of input such as cassava stem for planting, Gari from cassava and it prices, fresh cassava tubers.

    I wish to invite colleagues

    I wish to invite colleagues in this project to make the most use of this space to create knowlegde that could influence policies and actions regarding deployment of information and communication technologies for the improvemnet of rural livelihoods. We need to go beyond merely recycling what is known. Based on practical experiences we are having in the filed, we should test hypotheses, querry existing belifs and provide new opinions about stereotypic and blanket statements.

    After all the powers of darkness also have access to information and its technologies!

    Comment by Willie Nwagwu

    Information is power but access is strenght

    The linkage between poverty and information is actually very hazy, and sometimes beclouded in enthusiasm. The linkages often focus on the accesse of poor people or poor communities to ICTs: that is, on connectivity, as it were. But the discussion raises the important related point of what kind of knowledge is accessed by being connected: is the knowledge currently being disseminated relevant to the needs of the poor? The Internet, for instance, is full of information. But which of the information in the Internet is useful to a cassava farmer in Olanla village in Oyo State? If a rural woman is connected to the Internet in the village, how will the connection make her richer than another woman who is not connected? We should ask fundamental questions:

    a) to what degree, and in what ways, is lack of knowledge an important determinant of poverty in a rural community; and

    b) to what degree, and in what ways, does the digital divide contribute to the lack of relevant knowledge.

    Lack of knowledge and the digital divide more specifically – are only partial explanations of rural poverty. Knowledge of is not enough to eradicate poverty. For many communities, knowledge of can trigger off crises. The major explanation of the Niger Delta Crises is that the people know that the government of Nigeria is making a huge money from the oil explored from the area, and that they get just a pittance of the lot. So they pick up arms. Beyond knowledge of, the poor need access to appropriate technology, markets, workers’ rights, and worker organizations. Knowledge alone, especially if acquired digitally, will not necessarily lead to access. Very interestingly, a large share of the working poor will continue lagging behind in required knowledge so long as ICTs are require English as a working language. The process of learning a new language distorts reason, uproots cultures, and change cosmologies. For instance, acquiring English language literacy often means, in my community, that a person should go and work in the urban areas. This negates the critical expectation that informing the rural dweller will equip him or her with required information to make sufficient living where he or she is.

    Message from Yacine, form Fundación Taigüey, Dominican Republic

    Rarding the first sentence (“information is power”) It can be true in certain cases but it may also arise false expectations and later disillusions. Experience is that there is a lot more that is needed to be able to sell at a better price than just the knowing price. For example in our case coffee growers, have the information but don’t have transportation, nor the
    scale to negotiate, nor access to credit and they already committed the harvest to the intermediaries (buyers) who advance funding paying the for harvest etc. But indeed ICT can help strengthen framers through better capacity for peasant groups, coops or associations, to do all this (finance, technology, scale, logistics, organisation, alliances etc) to able to increase their income.