Davinder Kumar writes in The Guardian that InfoLadies are using netbooks, medical supplies and bicycles to improve the life chances of millions of poor people in Bangladesh, a country where according to the 2009 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report over 36% of the country's population lives on less than US$1 a day, and almost every second child under five is underweight. Kumar describes the scene as follows:
Practitioners and policy makers from India and some other South Asian countries met in Kochi, Kerala, India on 27-29 May, 2010 for the International Conference on 'Software in the Public Sector, with focus on Public Education', organised by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Government of Kerala. At the conclusion of these deliberations, the participants released the 'Kochi Declaration on Public Software', with the commitment to support the adoption of Public Software Principles in public agencies in India and other South Asian countries. The declaration recognises that the unique context of public software and its objectives of ensuring equity and social justice has implications for ensuring universal access to such software, as well as transparency and participation by the citizens in its design and use, and urges public institutions in these countries to adopt and promote Public Software. For more information, please see: The Hindu on May 26, The Hindu on May 29, The Indian Express, The Indian Express, Kerala IT News Portal, and Kaumudi Online.
A working group recently took place to help the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Secretariat in organizing the newest Main Session addition to the IGF2010 titled "IG4D - Internet Governance For Development". As you may know, the purpose of the working group is to support the United Nations Secretary-General in carrying out the mandate from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) with regard to convening a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue. During the recent open consultations, the group assembled as an open space to suggest and advise how the IG4D session should be carried forward and organized successfully. Below, Bill Drake summarizes Day 2 of the Open Consultation:
We had a fairly interesting and robust conversation. We talked about the challenge of trying to do a session on a sort of cross-cutting theme like this, which touches on some of the subjects being addressed in other topics, and we tried to focus in a way that would differentiate it from, say, the access and other sessions.
We decided -- we suggested the following:
Emeka Aginam and James Emejo write in AllAfrica.com and ThisDay, respectively, that the three-day eNigeria 2010 Conference themed "National ICT4D: Implications for Vision 20-2020" kicks off in Abuja next Tuesday. The event is organized by the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in collaboration with the United Nations's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). NITDA is a Federal Government agency created to among other things, ensure that Information Technology resources are readily available to promote efficient national development, stimulate the private sector to become the driving force for IT creativity and productivity and competitiveness as well as take on internet governance and supervision of the management of the country code top level doamain (cctld) “.ng” on behalf of Nigerians. With the event NITDA hopes to bring together leading researchers and practitioners from all over the world to brainstorm on how to leverage the latest developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote sustainable socio-economic development in Nigeria. The so-called "Oracle of the Nigerian IT industry," Chris Uwaje, also the President of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), will be present at the conference.
As mandated by the United Nations Secretary-General, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) established the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as a forum for stakeholders to air their views and exchange ideas. On May 11, 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland, the IGF held its annual planning meeting, the output of which was transcribed in real-time. All of their past meetings are also archived and may be accessed here.
The Poverty News Blog comments on a news article from the Global Post and The Telegraph that brings us a shocking statistic from the United Nations: "Half of India's population has a mobile phone while only a third has access to a toilet." As the Poverty News Blog notes, the statistic suggests that India has a long way to go on public health. Saritha Rai, author of the Global Post article, notes that one major problem seems to be the application of power- and resource-intensive Western sanitation ideas to India, a country with much lower energy and water usage and much more simplified waste disposal management practices than the Western world. Beyond the resource considerations, there are also cultural ones: "In many parts of rural India, a toilet is not just about the infrastructure but about age-old traditions. A poverty-stricken family would rather build a house or a shop and rent it out rather than have a toilet. And then they would continue going out to the fields for their daily rituals." The YouTube video below explores India's sanitation crisis in more detail:
The folks at Squeezed led by Mohammed Albow, a Ph.D. student at the University of Denver, are doing some very interesting work that should be of interest to liberation technology designers. Squeezed is a socially-conscious first-person picker video game about immigrant farm workers that attempts to spread social awareness through entertainment. A Newsweek article described their game as follows:
"You are a frog who happens to live on a farm. Your aim is to pick up as many grapes, oranges and other harvest fruit as you can in as little time as possible. But the fruit is quickly going rotten, and you've got to compete with worms, donkey and dragonflies. What's more, the farmer might decide to spray pesticides, which puts you in such a drunken stupor that picking up fruit off the ground is a challenge. Whoever grabs the most fresh fruit wins... aside from earning points... You may be just a frog, but you also have a family and community to support in a country far away. The "juice" you collect from the fruits you pick up is paying for schools and medical clinics back home. Without it, your family may starve."
The frogs, donkeys and dragonflies that work the farms in the game serve as proxies for migrant workers from Latin America. Why would they do this, you might ask? Those who developed the game say they wanted to enable the players to empathize with the immigrant experience in the United States: