Mobiles, computers, radio and other Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can assist developing countries in moving towards sustainable development. IICD presents ten recommendations about the role of ICT in achieving greener economies and reducing poverty in developing countries.
These recommendations serve as a guideline forthe United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
, taking place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012.
Scroll through the recommendations to see a more thorough explanation or download the brochure for more information.
1. Use ICT to enhance sustainable agricultural practices.
The above can be achieved by:
- Making small-scale farmers more productive, innovative and responsive to social, environmental and market changes.
- Supporting ecological and organic production by small-scale producers' and traders' organisations.
- Supporting a better domestic exchange of production and market information.
Project: Agrecol Andes (Bolivia)
ICTs were used to support and facilitate the exchange of information, knowledge and experiences on sustainable and ecological agriculture, among remote, small scale farmer communities.
Another example of ICT in the use of sustainable agricultural practices is the internal control system for the inspectors of the the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ), helping farmers in Zambia obtain international certification.
2. Use ICT to accelerate economic development while maintaining biodiversity.
ICT can strengthen inclusive economic development by providing opportunities for rural communities to generate enhanced sources of income and create alternative economic options. At the same time, community actors can use ICT to ensure that their environmental assets are protected and remain a sustainable source of income for the future.
Project: C-Condem (Ecuador): Conserving Mangroves with ICTs and Community Production
C-CONDEM promotes community production initiatives in the mangrove ecosystem for increased economic sustainability of the marginalised population of the mangrove swamp. ICT is used by poor fishermen's communities dealing with ecotourism in Muisne and for the repopulation of fish and shellfish in Limones, both in the coastal province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
The local knowledge and capacities of organisations and local communities strengthens and their management of production initiatives related to conserving the ecosystem, are improved.
3. Transform governance, economic and social structures with ICT.
ICT tools are powerful instruments to support people's conversations with their peers, reflections on the social norms and examples from others. Individuals and organisations working to influence existing structures harness ICT to influence opinions, collaborate with others, and recruit people to their cause.
Project: Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)
ICTs are used to:
- Strengthen the dissemination of information and increase awareness about the importance of the enormous environmental challenges in Ecuador, by creating training courses on how to mobilise and empower small-scale farmers, hosting online discussion forums, and facilitating an elearning platform.
- To develop food security strategies for small and medium scale farmers to help them decide on the sustainable use of natural resources.
A different example of the use of ICT to accelerate economic development while conserving the environment and maintaining biodiversity, is the FEPTCE project in Ecuador, which promotes community tourism.
4. Connect smallholder farmers
In order to make the transition to a greener economy, smallholder farmers should be given the assistance they need to become more productive, innovative and responsive to changing markets and social and environmental conditions. Appropriate ICT support should be used to make relevant knowledge available to this underserved group, in order to improve their agricultural practices and innovation systems.
Project: Rural Women's Information Network (Burkina Faso)
A community radio station and an internet connection are installed at Pag-La-Yiri women's association in the information-deprived area of Zabré, in the southeast of Burkina Faso. Email helps to exchange information quickly, the radio to distribute it to a wide audience. The main objective is to broadcast information to boost the development of the region. As a result, farmers have been able to increase their produce and sell it at better prices.
5. Honour local roots by promoting participatory approaches.
ICT programmes should be developed and implemented on a demand-driven basis by involving local stakeholders at different stages to ensure maximum local ownership of the tools and services from the start. This has proven to be essential for long term sustainability of changed practices and new organisational forms.
Project: Market and Production Information for farmers (Ghana)
Internet, video and mobile phones are used to spread market and production information to 15,000 mainly women farmers in the Volta region in Ghana. This information helps them earn more money from their produce. The project also provides training in marketing and ICT skills.
6. Link action and experience to policy
Local ICT-for Greener Economy initiatives should be brought together in national networks to share experiences, build on each others knowledge, stimulate local research and influence related policies. ICT supported networks have an even broader outreach in terms of participants, information, and knowledge exchange potential and influence.
Project: GINKS (Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing)
GINKS is a platform for institutions and individuals to dialogue and share experiences in ICT4D and to support the potential of ICT tools for socio-economic development.
7. Secure optimal technical usage
Combining different ICTs can provide solutions for reaching out to wider networks of poor users. Information from computer-based databases can be more widely diffused by using other ICTs such as mobile phones or community radio. Technology combinations illustrate that mobile telephony, radio, PCs and the Internet can act as complementary solutions, rather than competing solutions, for the supply of valuable information and communications.
Project: ECAMIC (Ghana)
The Eastern Corridor Agro-Market Information Centre (ECAMIC) project already uses a broad range of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote market access and equity for farming communities in the Eastern Corridor of the Northern Region of Ghana. The project reaches a number of rural communities through technology that can work with the needs and capabilities of its target users.
Nathan, Maize farmer, Salaga: "I can see the price of Maize is high. I am able to get a better price.So I can make more profit".
8. Limit energy usage
Preference should be given to energy-efficient technological devices and solutions, and energy-efficient computing should be promoted to avoid further increasing energy demand in countries where energy production is not aligned with demand.Such energy solutions required to power ICT use, should be based on renewable energy sources, e.g. solar power.
Project: Solar Chargers for farmers (Ghana)
Farmers of Ghana are using solar energy to charge their mobile phones. This saves them costs and valuable time. Farmers use their mobile phones to look up crop price information so they see how much their crops are worth and when they can best sell it, but often do not have any way to charge their phones when they are in the field.
The solar chargers offer a quick solution and are also cost-free to use.
9. Improve affordability of ICTs in rural areas
In order for poor people to benefit from greater access to ICT tools and services, these services have to be affordable and in many situations this is not the case. The contribution of ICTs to poverty reduction lies in their power to enable poor men and women to build "livelihood assets" or more secure employment opportunities. Using ICT can become more affordable for organisations in remote areas by generating workable and sustainable shared connectivity models, for example. This allows for infrastructure investments, internet service costs, and maintenance costs to be shared among multiple actors, thereby significantly reducing the cost per organisation.
Project: Shared satellite connectivity as an option for the community (Bolivia)
The shared connectivity model has shown to provide a community access model that can be sustainable from an organisational, technical, financial and ownership perspective.
Non-governmental ACLO (Accion Loyala) started experimenting with VSAT connections ranging from download 128 and upload 32 kbps and in best cases download 512 and upload 128 kbps with costs ranging from 350 to 450 us$ per month. Other interested users in the community were connected by Wireless Wifi links so costs could be shared with local governments, other NGOs and grass-root organisations in the community.
10. Tackle e-Waste
Integrated e-Waste management solutions need to be created to enable controlled and appropriate dismantling processes without the toxic impact on health and environment associated with improper handling.Dismantling and recycling computers should be promoted and supported in the countries where these devices are used. This creates a win-win situation by developing local businesses and solving the e-Waste problems. E-waste that cannot be treated locally should be exported to specialized plants. Some positive experiences already exist and should be scaled up.
Project: Action to Prevent E-waste (Uganda)
PProcessing electronic waste, or 'e-waste' in developing countries can be very dangerous. Electronic equipment contains lead and other contaminants that can cause health and environmental problems. That's why IICD and Close The Gap ensure the decommissioned computers are dismantled as much as possible. Parts that cannot be dismantled will be shipped to recycling plants.
This process is guided by Computers For Schools Kenya which specialises in deploying refurbished computers.