Jan 28, 2010
As the Managing Director of IICD, I participated in the end of January in the World Bank’s “ ICT Sector Week: Enabling Develo...
As the Managing Director of IICD, I participated in the end of January in the World Bank’s “ICT Sector Week: Enabling Development” in Washington. This event was organised by the World Bank’s Global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department for the Bank’s staff and the staff of the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.
The purpose of the week was to engage IFC and WB staff, senior industry executives, and sector experts in discussion how to leverage ICT to scale up the development impact of the ICF and WB operations.
Strategy sessions were held on increasing the reach and impact of services in public sector management, education, health, agriculture and rural development.
IICD was involved as speaker in the ICT for Health session and contributed to the panel discussion of the agriculture and rural development session. I also presented IICD in the ICT for Education session.
Find below my personal findings on the Health and Education sessions.
Working towards innovative health services delivery
The workshop on health was very interesting and included participants with lots of experience and key positions. After a well-received presentation the participants discussed: What is e-health? What long term commitment do we need from the bank? What is the role of, amongst others, health insurance and privacy of data?
A much respected female senior advisor of the World Bank suggested that the World Bank thinks about new ways to deliver health services in developing countries. She pointed out that the WB should not be willing to finance projects that are just replicating what was done in the past in the ‘North’. From this point of view she considered that there was a bright future for telemedicine and distance learning education.
“ICT is giving the opportunity to review what is done and to explore what should be possible and what should be adapted to the context of the developing countries.”
My view and experience on this is that ICT create opportunities for institutions in developing countries to do health service delivery in an innovative way: not matching Northern traditions but to be answering institutions’ own specific challenges. IICD is working much in line with this. What IICD is doing in the health sector attracted positive attention in particular because of our integrated approach (guiding principles or what I call ‘true capacity building’). Examples of our work within health services delivery are the Teleradiology project in Mali and the Telemedicine project in Tanzania.
Moving towards smart use of ICT in Education
As is already the case in the area of health services delivery, ICT is creating opportunities for developing countries to do education delivery in an innovative way: not according to Northern approaches but responding to its own specific challenges. The World Bank staff has an advisory role to governments in developing countries and should be prepared for these opportunities.
For IICD, it is worth to think about: do we want to mainstream ICT in education (using ICT to help teachers in their traditional education approach to make their work more attractive for the students) or do we want to stand in a new education paradigm (providing opportunities for innovative approaches) and look at how ICTs can play a role for this purpose? At the moment we are involved in both ways of developing education.
The current education system is a product of the industrial revolution, from 200 years ago. How will today’s digital revolution shape the future’s education? Education should be designed to help students to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
Oct 31, 2007
This week is my first visit to the IICD country programme in Uganda . Within IICD, I am changing position and will be taking...
This week is my first visit to the IICD country programme in Uganda. Within IICD, I am changing position and will be taking over the responsibility for project management in Uganda. In this trip a colleague is introducing me to the programme. So far the projects are really exciting. It is impressive to see how committed people are towards the projects. This weekend we visited the Health Child project, a new project which we are implementing together with Cordaid. Last week the project coordinator identified two rural communities to start Information Centers where women can be trained on Health prevention. The coordinator was a young woman, like myself. She quit her job in Kampala to live in the rural area to set up the centres. During the visit she and the rest of the implementing staff took us to one of the communities. The people were really keen on meeting us. They raised interesting questions, like how we would make sure that the elderly women of the community wouldn’t be excluded from this ‘innovative’ project. This shows that, fortunately, our end-users dare to be critical towards IICD.
Jun 22, 2007
When visiting the Sahel desert during a road trip from Ouagadougou, Burkina faso, I noticed that the Sahel is looking greene...
When visiting the Sahel desert during a road trip from Ouagadougou, Burkina faso, I noticed that the Sahel is looking greener than I had imagined. Even at the end of the dry period in May, trees carried green leaves and some bushes even flowered. I wondered what the Sahel would look like in three months time, after the rain season.
I was travelling with a group of Burkina NTIC, the national network for advocacy, lobbying, knowledge sharing and awareness raising on the use of ICT for development that is supported by IICD. My IICD colleague Miep, who is supporting the network, and I were invited by the network to come along on a Road Trip to Bokin in the North Central of Burkina Faso. In Bokin the network was planning to visit several communities to explain and show how beneficiary the use of ICT can be.
Bokin, a place about 100 kilometres up north of Ouagadougou in the Sahel, is the administrative seat of the department of Bokin, an area covering about 50 square kilometres with over 50,000 people. Life expectancies are low and facilities are scarce. Most people are living completely isolated, struggling to produce enough food to feed their own families. In dry season temperature rises up to 45 degrees Celsius which makes life even more unbearable. Red dust is covering everything.
In this area resides Sahel Solidarité, partner of IICD and member of Burkina NTIC, which is working in the area of water sanitation and hygiene. An important part of their work is informing local communities about how they can prevent diseases and illnesses by taking care of their personal hygiene (e.g. washing hands before dinner) and organised places for washing and cooking. In their work they make use of multi-media to show good and bad examples of hygiene.
Together with them we visited several communities in the department of Bokin. One of the stops was in Bokin itself where we met health care prevention workers and local officials. Sahel Solidarité showed them how ICT could help to make people more aware of dangerous health situations by using digital cameras to register ‘good and ‘bad’ hygienic situations which were shown on a large screen in the evenings in different communities. How effective using multi-media is for their work we could see with our own eyes later that evening. Just a few kilometres outside of Bokin Sahel Solidarité had set up a film screen made out of two poles and a white sheet on which they projected images. People living in villages nearby were invited to attend this presentation. It was pitch black and for me it would have been impossible to find my way, but around 8 pm we saw lights glowing up in the dark, coming closer and closer, announcing the arrival of many a person on bike. From far and near they had come. They were impressed with what they saw. Perhaps it was just the magic of a ‘son et lumière’ show outdoors, but the pictures showed them what simple measures they could take to avoid risks of infection. Amazing how a simple presentation of pictures can make a difference, especially for people in areas like Bokin, who have difficulties with reading and writing.
More striking though was our visit to the community of Pourra where a local entrepreneur had started to broadcast news and information on water hygiene, vaccination programmes and other relevant activities in the area. He had been inspired by the work of Sahel Solidarité to start using radio to improve the information to and communication with local people. People could even call during the programme to ask questions or announce something. The radio station resided in his shop, but in the midst of the dust, dryness and immense heat that what was done in that small building made all the difference to the people. Having access to information and being able to communicate, to ask questions about how and when, gave people the opportunity to change something for their own good.
For the first time I witnessed what information and communication can do to people living in isolated areas like the Sahel. Like the first green leaf on the emergence of spring, it gave them hope. Hope and trust in the fact that something would change, that they could do something. The Sahel is getting greener day by day.
Today we concluded a two-day focus group. It brought together 18 participants from the Health sector in Tanzania. Most of th...
Today we concluded a two-day focus group. It brought together 18 participants from the Health sector in Tanzania. Most of them were team members of projects that experiment with putting ICT to proper use in Health. This included initiatives for e-learning, creating a web portal for knowledge sharing, but most are involved in health information systems. The other participants were end users from the health centres and hospitals that the projects serve. A consultant responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation in Tanzania summed up the findings of a survey among the end users of the ICT services on their quality and impact.
It was a cheerful session. All participants worked quite hard, but the atmosphere was nice. The workshop started on Monday with some 'brown paper sessions' on project goals, target groups and the project environment, looking at which factors in the environment of the project push it forward and which factors inhibit the project from reaching its goals. Many of the projects discovered that they had many challenges in common, immediately sparking discussions among them.
Following the brown paper sessions, the participants split into smaller groups to look more closely at the outcomes of the surveys, in discussions on the possibilities and necessities to lower patient fees, the impact of the project on different groups of users and the difficulties and advantages of linking the information from the health information systems to a reporting system that the hospitals use to report to the government.
Having all these different "minds" together helped to make a good analysis; the end users giving the on-the-ground perspective, making it possible for the projects team members to put their finger on the problems and their causes and to formulate practical action points. Next to these practical outcomes, the participants were patient and understanding, helping those who took longer and genuinely building a group feeling.
Below: One of the participants presents the outcomes
of a brainstorm session on the added value of using
ICT within their organisation
On some days, goals you have set foryourself, match perfectly yet mysteriously with those others have set forthemselves...
On some days, goals you have set for yourself, match perfectly yet mysteriously with those others have set for themselves. There is no better feeding ground for cooperation. Today is a day where the circle is completed, or is a higher power at work?
With the office of Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) in Bamako, I have agreed to explore possible synergies between our activities and those of SNV-Mali. In previous years I have subconsciously avoided Dutch development organizations in Mali. I expect the reason for this was twofold. On the one hand because I wanted our programme to develop and find it’s own way, and on the other because for us at IICD, our local partners are our main focus. I felt it more important, on my trips to Mali, to spend time with local partners. However, now that our programme has matured, I see a growing need to create strategic alliances with development partners who have a higher level of sectoral expertise than we do. In that regard, the longstanding track record of SNV in Mali, and the fact that their methodology lies in line with ours, offers many opportunities.
But the turning point for following up talk with action, is a recently published article in Capacity.org by Elsbeth Lodenstein and others about a health project by SNV and KIT in Mali. Through an action research project in the region of Koulikoro they have developed a methodology which helps the communication between local policy makers and basic health services to improve in previous years. One of the keys for improving communication and understanding turned out to be to make data more transparent and accessible. This allowed policy makers to feed their decision making processes with simple indicators. IICD partners are currently formulating a project proposal for “informatiseren van de data collectie” in the same region. Therefore it is self evident that it would be beneficial to bring the two teams together. With SNV staff I agreed to convene a meeting in six weeks time, during which both trajectories will be presented and discussed by the parties involved. Our partners can probably reap lessons learned from the experiences of SNV staff, and in turn, SNV staff can gain greater insight into the advantages of ICT in a similar process. In this way, both our partners and SNV have a concrete issue around which a first cooperation and collaboration can be formalized. Small scale and concrete, just the way I like it.
In the evening I visited Hugo Verkuijl, an old associate of mine who worked at KIT for many years and who just like me married a Malian. In cooperation with KIT he is now setting up the first biodiesel company in Mali. A very nice project making use of the seed of the Jatropha plant. In this project not only the environmental benefits are gained but also income generated for farmers by selling biodiesel and carbon credits. When we sit down for a drink on the beautiful terrace of hotel Mandé which spans over the Niger river, who do we bump into but a KIT-colleague of Hugo’s. He tells us that he has worked with SNV on a very nice programme in the health sector in the Koulikoro region. And we could read all about it in an article published recently with Elsbeth Lodenstein on Capacity.org….
Below: François Laureys(left) with Mr Joachim Tanoano, Minister for Post and ICT, and Mr Michèl Pepin, Programme Manager for ADEN in Burkina Faso