AGFUND INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
FOR PIONEERING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
First Category Prize 2010
For projects by UN, international and regional organizations.
||US$ 200,000 |
|The Winning Project
||Integrated program to develop Siwa oasis, using ICT. (Selected winner from 7 projects). |
||Egypt ICT Trust Fund. www.ictfund.org.eg|
||Egypt ICT Trust Fund. |
Egypt Information and Communication Technology Trust Fund (ICT-TF) was jointly established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and in January 2002.
The ICT-TF is a mechanism that aims to investigate the different means by which ICTs can enrich the livelihood of Egyptian citizens, as well as to foster socio-economic development by creating public-private partnerships to support the use of ICTs.
The Fund currently sponsors several projects, in six main sectors; [Community Development, Agriculture, Education, Health, ICT 4 Disabilities, and ICT for Micro, Small, and Medium enterprises (M/SMEs)]; Aiming to furthering development in Egypt through increasing awareness of ICT and its benefits as well as making it more accessible and affordable to all citizens.
Furthermore, by empowering communities with access to valuable tools, skills, training and information, the ICT Trust Fund hopes to broaden the horizons of Egyptian citizens and increase their competitive advantage in a modern technological society. Integrated Program to develop Siwa Oasis, using ICT
This project outlines a model for supporting Siwa’s women community in developing that will have an outstanding impact on the community at large. In addition, It will facilitate collaboration between concerned parties in matters of common interest and establish essential arrangements for the continuation of a local CAC, Siwa Community Access Center for women. Such collaboration will support developmental activities in eradicating illiteracy through training the community -via the Tabluter-, conducting health awareness campaigns as well as enhancing local clinics, and promoting the SME portal services to the community.
A particular focus area for the project is the use of ICT to increase access, learning, and equity to enhance capacity development opportunities for women, youth and marginalized groups.
The project attempts to tackle ICT-Access and ICT-for-Development content for a marginalized group of a remote community, Oasis of Siwa. The ICT Trust Fund (ICT-TF) has a long extensive experience facilitating access of knowledge and information to rural and remote communities. Public-private partnership is a basic approach in the ICT-TF’s interventions to ensure the sustainability and community ownership at the grassroots level. ICT has been used in several remote and rural communities nationwide to create knowledgeable societies and help citizens to build their capacity through better access to information. Many success stories have been documented on how ICT can enhance women’s participation, young people’s learning, employment and many other developmental goals. The intervention will ensure the proper use of technologies in tackling the knowledge deficiencies in Siwa with special focus on women.
The two-year project will emphasize the positive role of ICTs in assisting social development as well as gender balance in remote areas, Oasis of Siwa. It will highlight the role of technology in providing deprived areas with access to information and knowledge. Also, building the capacity of local young people is a major part of the intervention’s developmental goals. Further more, the planed Community Learning Center (CLC) will facilitate the inclusion and participation of local people in developing their communities.
This project outlines a model for supporting Siwa’s women community in developing that will have an outstanding impact on the community at large. In addition, It will facilitate collaboration between concerned parties in matters of common interest and establish essential arrangements for the continuation of a local CAC, Siwa Community Access Center for women. Such collaboration will support developmental activities in eradicating illiteracy through training the community -via the Tabluter-, conducting health awareness campaigns as well as enhancing local clinics, and promoting the SME portal services to the community. Goals:
Empowering the local community in areas of literacy, education, health and SMEs through small, integrated, and focused interventions using ICT. Objectives:
- Support the illiteracy eradication, using ICT, through enlarging the scale of the Tabluter.
- Utilize ICT tools in promoting health care awareness, providing advices and remote assistance to local community in Siwa.
- Support education via equipping 6 schools with computer labs focusing on creative education technologies.
- Promote Siwan agricultural and cultural handicrafts, which is famous, through a mini SMEs portal.
- Create a network between the above 4 interventions to ensure integration and impact on the socio-economic development of the local community.
- Illiteracy eradication; public-private partnerships; multi-stakeholder approach enabled creation of a shared vision, addressed cultural resistance; e-commerce enabled SMES to market products, higher income; use of creative educational technologies to improve learning; child mortality reduced through ICT for health care, accessible and affordable ICT solutions for Tabuluters education , SMART schools, health telemedicine and commerce SMEs portal. Pioneering by preparing most active NGO to ensure successful transfer. Flexibility in management structure; applied cost-recovery model; online services connected all stakeholders; substituted books and traditional materials with electronic books, e-mail, etc.; focus on women empowerment; cooperative venture with UN and local partners; effective M&E; case study approach and e-content raised awareness of social and development issues; sustainable and replicable – 3 phases for 3 years.
- The project was designed to serve the needs of the rural, secluded population of the Siwa Oasis, particularly women and children. The aims of the project are in line with AGFUND’s priorities as it seeks to provide the community with services in areas of:
The two aspects of the project that were seen as most innovative were a specially designed computer for the women’s literacy programme, the “Tabluter”, and the integrated character of the project. The project partners had tried to take into account the needs of the targeted population and deliver solutions tailored to the area’s cultural specificities and infrastructural requirements.
- Education (by using information technology to teach women to read and write and by improving the IT infrastructure in schools).
- Health (by setting up a telemedicine programme that sought to improve the professional development of Siwa’s medical personnel and improve the standards of health care through tele-consultations with experts from the university of Alexandria).
- A third area that the project addressed was e-commerce, through the creation of a portal for marketing and selling local produce and delicacies.
Although some of the results of the project are impressive, such as the success of the literacy programme among women, I found that many of its aspects were under-documented. There was very little information on the e-commerce portal (such as what is it’s electronic address, how many people have been using it, who is supporting them). More information could also have been provided on how the telemedicine system was used by local staff, i.e. what they found as particularly helpful or challenging. Similarly it would have been useful to learn more about how the women’s educational programme was set up, such as who the women were meant to turn to for help and support. Another point that I felt required more explanation related to the “integrated” nature of the project. It is unclear to me in what the way the different services connect up.
- The main aims of this scheme, running since 2006, are to empower the Siwa community in areas of literacy, education, health and SMEs through the use of ICTs. It places specific emphasis on mobilizing women to be proactive citizens through enhancement to their literacy. Phase I of the project finished in 2007 and Phase II in 2009. The project designed a “Tabluter” – a traditional Tablya table with an embedded computer in it, running 4 screens, mice keyboards and headphones. Schools were modernized to join the Smart Schools programme, and experimentation was undertaken in telemedicine. The proposal is very honest about the challenges faced – which is very positive. They noted in particular difficulties in delivering telemedicine in low connectivity circumstances such as are found in Siwa. Siwa’s population of some 23,000 people was the target group. Partners included UNDP, Vodafone, Egypt ICT Trust Fund, WHO, Siwa Community Development and Environment Conservation Association, as well as a number of other local organizations. Some successes have been achieved – particularly in engaging a small number of women, but it is quite difficult to gain detailed evidence of outcomes from the report.
Uniqueness claims are exaggerated. Care and attention have been paid to management issues. Evidence of claims is not clear – proposal suggest that as a result of this scheme, illiteracy rates fell to only 2%. Six schools were equipped with computer labs and internet connectivity. 41 teachers and 1128 pupils had improved ICT skills. 7 doctors were trained on ICT aspects of telemed; 50 children has consultations in the first 2 months These numbers are not large. Some attempts at sustainability: cost recovery model, training of teachers using the Tabluter, portal… Some evidence of replication elsewhere.
There is little real evidence of external validation of the project – so quite difficult to judge its success. However, it is indeed explicitly related to ICTs, and it does aim to deliver on the AGFUND objectives. I found an interesting video on YouTube - www.youtube.com - this does give some positive evidence. There are also some other reports on the Web that would appear to support this case study.