ICTs for Development

February 10, 2008

The People’s Impact

Filed under: Uncategorized — htone @ 1:17 pm
Tags: , , , ,

In doing the reading for tomorrow’s class, the section that struck me as most interesting and worthy of further research was in the Grace, Kenny and Qiang article on the Internet’s impact on governance. This notion of “bringing the government closer to people” is something that has always interested me, and the stories of local grassroots organizations as well as more developed networks are absolutely inspiring, to see what people are capable of when they are even remotely connected, especially those in LDCs. The article cited a few examples from the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), including a women’s NGO in Mexico city, “EcoNews” in Tanzania and most interesting to me, the NGO “Sakshi” in India that lobbied for sexual harassment legislation. I went to the source on APC’s wesbite, and found multiple other examples of networking over the internet to better different types of civil society, including some in Canada, Yugosalvia, Hungary and Colombia.

One example in particular, and one that anyone with a journalism background can appreciate, is “Ensuring Freedom of Expression for Journalists World-Wide.” A group was established in Toronto, Canada called IFEX (International Freedom of Expression Exchange), and via email, it provides information regarding attacks on journalists and writers , as well as tracking censorship and press laws. And it was established back in 1992! Before most of us even knew what email was! (Well, before I knew what it was anyway – I was only 7 at the time.) This is IFEX’s website now.

I highly encourage you to check out these other examples of networking and civil society, to see how people can effect change using ICTs at the local, regional and even global level. The only thing that concerns me after reading through these examples, and a concern that has been raised in some of my other courses, is the issue of an over-population of NGOs. Clearly, in most environments, their presence contributes to and facilitates growth, and helps people gain a voice especially at the grassroots level. But given their growth exponentially over the past decade or so, I can only hope that at some point, the needs of developing countries can be folded into a more centralized format where they can have an even greater impact. Ultimately, as we’ve seen from the readings for this week, you need the government’s cooperation, and hopefully these network examples are the vehicle for attracting attention and bringing about needed change.

Blog at WordPress.com.