ICT & Poverty Conference Report

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  • Subject: ICT & Poverty Conference Report
  • From: "Irfan Khan" <KhanIA@super.net.pk>
  • Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 11:18:59 +0500
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      Date sent:      	Mon, 18 Dec 2000 11:12:32 -0500
      From:           	"Dr. Bhausaheb Ubale" <bubale at pathcom dot com>
      Organized by International Centre for Poverty Eradication, a
      consortium of Canadian NGOs and local Toronto community groups and
      international experts discussed "how to use Information and
      Communication Technologies to Eradicate Poverty in Developing
      countries" especially in India and China, at the conference held
      recently in Toronto, Canada.
      "The technological revolution has created unprecedented economic
      growth in recent years yet the world has witnessed enormous
      disparities between rich and poor. In the case of India, this income
      gap is alarming due to lack of Human Development, especially
      education, health, and skills development particularly in rural
      areas," argues Dr. Bhausaheb Ubale, a British trained Development
      Economist; former Canadian Human Rights Commissioner, and the driving
      force behind this event.
      Thus, to accelerate the speed of human resource development, the
      Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are being used. They
      serve as a powerful tool to give equal access to poorest of the poor
      and thereby help to create Sustainable Human Development. ICT empower
      people through knowledge. With such a pro-poor agenda of
      technology-improved access to education, health care and information--
      it is increasingly possible for poor to integrate into economic life,
      and thereby break the cycle of poverty.
      With this in mind and recognition of our moral responsibilities to
      help those whom we have left behind and who are struggling to get out
      of poverty trap, we had organized the above conference. This
      conference was last part of the series of activities organized by the
      International Centre for Poverty Eradication to commemorate UN
      International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The first function
      was held on October 17, 2000 with the speeches on various aspects of
      poverty by The Honorable Chief Justice of Ontario, Roy McMurtry,
      well-known Canadian author, broadcaster and social activist, June
      Callwood and Dr, Bhausaheb Ubale
      Dr. Ubale presented the action plan at the conference to set up a
      pilot project on how to use Information and Communication Technologies
      to Eradicate Poverty in District Satara in Maharashtra State Speaking
      about the plan at the conference, Dr. Ubale said: “Our main mission
      and objective are to eradicate poverty through Integrated Rural
      Development. This means all front line grassroots agencies engaged in
      different areas such as education, health, income generation,
      agriculture and rural development would work together in integrated
      way in the cluster of villages. ICT will be used as tool or powerhouse
      of information to provide continuous information to those agencies and
      communities to accelerate the process of development.
      The main focus of the project is to establish a ICT Centre to provide
      poor rural and and remote communities with affordable public assess
      and connectivity to Information and Communication and other
      Technologies. The targeted beneficiaries would include poorest of the
      poor, youth, women, and unemployed youth. Small rural enterprises,
      farmers, village traders, and craftsmen/women.
      Explaining about the structure of the centre, Dr. Ubale said, "it will
      be located in village high school servicing Khatav Taluka and
      sub-centre in another village servicing adjoining Taluka of Khanapur
      in Sangli district. We have decided to use schools for sustainability,
      and to get young people involved in poverty eradication."
      The Centre will be divided into two sections: 1 Computer lab. for
      training trainers, computer literacy training to students and others
      in villages; and also training in hardware maintainance.  2)
      Information and Communication /Technologies Centre and Community
      Resource Centre which will provide diverse information services in
      response to community needs: public telephone and fax, government
      service directories, regional employment listings, agricultural prices
      from brokers in several cities, posting crop and pest observations for
      the agricultural extension agent, electronics mail for distance
      education radio courses, and self-placed training, and information
      about appropriate technology and its applications.
      The Centre is to be supported by donations, grants and in some cases
      user fees and subscriptions, provider charges for some postings,
      sectoral support for education and agricultural activities. "Some
      resources will be raised locally in India and others in North America.
      This centre will work as hub serving adjoining villages. Once
      successful this will be replicated in other parts of India," Dr. Ubale
      To undertake follow up work,  working committees are being set up to
      deal with issues of Infrastructure set up for the centre, and sectoral
      applications in each areas such as: education, health, income
      generation activities, agriculture and rural development. The project
      will be implemented by local NGO’s in India and  in cooperation with
      the International Centre for Eradication of Poverty.
      During his concluding, remarks Mr. Chandra Mohan Bhandari, Consul
      General of India, who was present throughout this workshop, strongly
      supported the approach of using ICT for Integrated Rural Development
      and explained Government of India policies on poverty eradications and
      Information Technology. He also assured delegates of Government of
      India’s support for this project for the eradication of poverty.
      Former Indian Ambassador, and the former Secretary –General of  South
      Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC) Kant Bhargava  strongly supported
      the pilot project
      In his Keynote Address by Rafal Rohozinski  designated speaker of
      United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) gave an overview of ICT
      and Poverty eradication. He said: “Developing Countries have always
      suffered from an information gap; reduced communication costs, and the
      potential for capacity development, training, professional upgrading.
      Explaining importance of ICT as a communication tool, he added "It
      took radio broadcaster 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million;
      television 13 years and the internet just four." Referring to
      Development Priorities for Information, ICTs and Poverty, he said:
      "The poor need knowledge to access, assess and apply existing
      information and resources for action. They need skills, knowledge and
      money. They need access to new local context information more than
      access to foreign context; they need voice and intelligent
      intermediaries to use ICTs." Mr.Rohozinski currently is at Cambridge
      University working with Nobel Laureate Prof.A.K. Sen.
      Other speakers included: Branislav Bajovic (Baya), Manager,
      Information System, Foundation for International Training. Speaker
      -Luis Guillermo Barnola Award Associate/Investigador Adjunto
      International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and Roger Dumelie,
      Director of NGO Division, Canadian International Development Agency
      At the end Dr.Ubale requested people of Indian origin settled in the
      West to donate their skills and expertise in every field. He added
      that "our efforts are not charity driven; they are designed to empower
      poor people. It is a fact that a large number of people in India are
      caught up in the poverty trap. Hence, it is particularly important for
      us ( people from India settled in the West) to recognize that we have
      a moral responsibility to help those whom we have left behind and who
      are struggling to break the cycle of poverty".
      He also urged non Indians who are knowledgeable interested in
      eradication of poverty in India in general to assist his group. He
      also requested other NGOs working or intend to work in India in
      various fields such as education, health, environment etc. to
      eradicate poverty, to join hands to make this pilot project as
      demonstration model. This then could be replicated in other parts of
      "We need volunteers to work on implementation of this project both in
      North America and in India. We also need used computers (Pentium or
      equivalent) other hardware and funds", he said.
      Those who are interested should contact: 
      Dr. Bhausaheb Ubale,
      M.A.Eco.,Ph.D. Eco.(U.K.)
      President of International Centre for Poverty Eradication, 
      83 Kingslake Rd, Toronto, ON, Canada, M2J 3E6  
      Tel. (416) 494-4763, Fax (416) 494 2185
      E-mail: bubale at pathcom dot com   Website: www.eradicatepoverty.com
      Dr. Bhausaheb Ubale
      Dr. Bhausaheb Ubale
      Former Commissioner: Canadian Human Rights Commission, Ontario Human
      Rights Commission and First Race Relations Commissioner, Province of
      Ontario President International Center for Eradication of Poverty 83
      Kingslake Road Toronto (ON) M2J 3E6 Tel.(416)494 4763 Fax.(416)494
      2185 Email: bubale at pathcom dot com www.eradicatepoverty.com