Feb 25, 2008
During my business trip to Tanzania, I planned to visit Magu for a Focus Group meeting with farmers. However, getting to Magu...
During my business trip to Tanzania, I planned to visit Magu for a Focus Group meeting with farmers. However, getting to Magu was a slight challenge...
Part of the reason was the visit of “the esteemed president of the United States” to Tanzania. Days before the visit, from all road corners in Dar es Salaam, his grin would look at you from billboards with backdrops of the Kilimanjaro or the Tanzanian flag.
When he finally arrived, his visit turned into a practical problem: three out of probably five major roads in the city closed down, which made it hard to get around, and more specifically, to get to the airport. A day before my flight to Mwanza (in the Northwest of Tanzania, about 1,5 hour drive from Magu) we received word that the flight was moved two hours back because of this. Add to this: five more delayed and two cancelled flights at the airport, no luggage allowed on the plane because of fuel problems, boarding and then having to go back because of engine troubles, 300 waiting Tanzanians, 35 degrees centigrade, sticky airport food, incomprehensible messages over the airport intercom, wailing children, and 20 people hanging out of the airport bus taking pictures of Air force One. We waited for 5 hours, but - to my surprise - in the end the plane did leave. My biggest challenge was not to show my slight frustration, as the Tanzanians surrounding me remained their happy self, thanking God for finding the engine trouble before we left.
The value of the Cromabu information centre
The following morning we left early from Mwanza for Magu. Together with Dr. Ngaiza, one of the Tanzanian partners for Monitoring and Evaluation, to be part of the end user Focus Group meeting. Our intention was to reflect with a group of end users from Cromabu, a price information project for farmers, on the data that the project collected over 2007. From the data we already knew that there were very little complaints from their side: the information that Cromabu disseminates was highly valued, both for its quality and for the service given in the information centre and the different farmer groups felt very much connected to all aspects of the centre. Apart from farmers, there were other people using the (paid) services of the centre. A local representative of the Salvation Army explained how he used the Internet service of the centre to stay in contact with his organisation’s headquarters in Dar es Salaam.
Several groups of farmers had prepared a role play, explaining the daily process of getting the price information together, and disseminating it to the various communities in the Magu area. Impersonations of Cromabu’s manager and the mime of how bicycles are used to visit the communities were received with laughter and loud applause by the other participants. As was a sung poem on IICD’s assistance to the centre. Afterwards, we asked them to discuss some additional aspects found in the data analysis. Why did some people for instance not – or no longer - visit the centre and what could be done to remedy this? Or: would women also like to be involved in the use of the electronic media de project offers and if so: what impedes them to do this right now? Nobody seemed to feel shy getting into the discussion; everybody contributed and gave suggestions and ideas.
The meeting started, ended and was paused with a great number of speeches: we were welcomed, thanked for being there and for our assistance and many farmers took the opportunity to tell in detail about the impact the project had had on their life.
One of the things I learned working for IICD (apart from, for instance, eating a complete guinea fowl with just my right hand) is to come up with opening and closing speeches on the spot, a skill that came in handy during this visit.
The impact of Cromabu on farmers' daily lives
As usual, I did feel somewhat uncomfortable with the speeches of gratitude. I feel I have a wonderful job working together with dedicated and professional local partners. Not something that I should particularly receive praise for, the way I see it. That said, it was amazing to hear from first hand all those stories that we confirm by means of formal questionnaires on a yearly basis: the impact Cromabu has on the daily lives of the farmers. In the open answers in the questionnaires collected by Cromabu and during the meeting users described that with the extra income they’ve earned from the information received, they send their children to school, buy cows, repair their roof or buy a bed. Statements that make it very clear that information for development is far from a luxury!
Looking back on the day, one of the participants indicated that he was happy and proud that no issues were left out of the discussion. According to him, this showed that “it was both possible and necessary to have farmers be part of a process like this”. In my opinion a great compliment for our evaluation process and for the involvement of Cromabu with their user group. It’s very much worth coming to Magu for, despite all roadblocks and delays. Before we left, the users sang one more song. It was based on a well-know song for the emancipation of women, but with a spontaneous and small adaptation of the lyrics, they all sang: “Don’t go to sleep yet, Cromabu, there is still so much to do!”
Officer Monitoring and Evaluation Tanzania, Ghana and Ecuador
Feb 08, 2008
It is not easy to give a training on Web 2.0 tools for development, when the internet connection is slower than Sylvestre’s ...
It is not easy to give a training on Web 2.0 tools for development, when the internet connection is slower than Sylvestre’s 2CV and power cuts paralyse the whole network. It is a daily reality in Ouagadougou nowadays. Whereas the internet connection in most countries is getting faster, the connection in Burkina is getting even slower.
Still, Mohamed Ag Acharom of Afriklinks managed to inspire more than thirty members of Burkina NTIC, the IICD supported national ICT4D network in Burkina Faso. He was invited by IICD to follow a web 2.0 course at the international conference Web2forDev in Rome in September. Since the national ICT4D networks in Mali and Burkina Faso had Web 2.0 training high on their priority list, IICD asked Mohamed to train both networks in Bamako and Ouagadougou.
Burkina NTIC made a film on Burkina blogs, which served as a perfect kick-off for the training. Participant Ibaranté Momo, manager of the Telecentre ADEN in Gaoua, commented: ‘I have always wanted to publish on the web, but I did not know how. Now I have seen the film on Burkina blogs, I want to know how to start my own blog.’
Apart from creating a blog, participants discovered how to use free, online tools to share bookmarks, documents, photos and videos, and to make free, online phone calls. Mohamed: ‘This is how you can create a wiki, for example titled ‘The Slow Connection’.’
Blogs captured the attention of the participants. Burkinabe bloggers in the film receive up to 2000 visitors per month. The blog provides ‘an exit door’ according to one blogger. They get reactions from all over the world, especially from the Burkinabe Diaspora. For them, blogs are a way to stay up to date and get unorthodox views on the developments in their home country. If the internet connection allows for it, the blogosphere will soon be besieged by Burkinabe blogs.
Participant Herman Ouedraogo, here with his grandmother in front of her house.
He now knows how to share this picture with the world using flickr.