Jan 22, 2008
At first glance Apac town looks like a roundabout surrounded by a few blocks of houses and some dusty tracks, though ther...
At first glance Apac town looks like a
roundabout surrounded by a few blocks of houses and some dusty tracks, though
there is more to it then that.
Over 26 CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) and the district headquarter are established in the village. They tended to have contrary interests, however in the E-Society project they work side by side to promote civil services for the Apac society. After a handover of a day, my colleague left me with the partners to do some hands-on work. The first steps to link CSOs and the district government in a structural way were achieved in the in the first stage of the project. This visit more clearly ironed out the shared roles of the different entities. Through meetings with a couple of CSOs a pool was created, which could provide content for civil services, as for example Child Health Information for women, Market Price Information for farmers or Information on grant possibilities for youth. While at the same time the district would facilitate the process of digitisation of their accounting system and operational processes, so that the civil society will have better access to the district expenditures. It was good to see that despite the differences between the district government and the CSOs there is willingness to create openness and work more closely together.
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.
Sep 25, 2007
On Wednesday September 19 th 2007 I attended the first Dutch Plone users day in Amsterdam. One of the presentations was abou...
On Wednesday September 19th 2007 I attended the first Dutch Plone users day in Amsterdam. One of the presentations was about the new features of Plone 3.0, which is, amongst other things, OpenID compatible!
The first time I heard about OpenID was about 2,5 years ago. A colleague of mine, who helps keeping me up to date on all sorts of things including web developments, showed this movie during a break in the web2.0 writeshop held at IICD.
OpenID is a sort of online passport. If you’re registered there, any other website which is compatible with OpenID, allows you to sign in with the OpenID profile. You don’t have to create another username and password combination for that specific website! For all the people like me, making use of web services like blogger, flickr, facebook, linkedIn, gmail, surveymonkey, etc. on top of your official accounts like email, network, ftp, cms’es, etc. it is such a hassle to have to remember all of those unique combinations of different usernames and passwords. Thank goodness someone out there is trying to find a solution to this problem, and thank goodness it seems to be catching on!
It was truly a feeling of “the future is here”, sitting there listening to the presentation, and seeing that Plone has now become OpenID compatible, something I had heard about once within the context of “this is what the future will bring”.
Another fun thing of that day was learning that Plone is becoming more Web 2.0. For example, without being a programmer, you can ensure that the content in your website is automatically pushed towards web 2.0 tools like delicious and reddit. Also, users can design their own member profile pages with widget-like portlets filled with content or RSS feeds of their choice. Besides the increased web 2.0 characteristics, Plone 3.0 also has great improvements in user interface functionalities and easing the task of content management through inline editing, OpenID, and link integrity. And of course, all the strengths of 2.5 remain, such as the use of resolveUID, RSS feeds and smart folders remains.
I also learned about Bungeni: “ It is a Parliamentary and Legislative Information System that aims at making Parliaments more open and accessible to citizens ... virtually allowing them "inside Parliament" or "Bungeni" the Kiswahili word for "inside Parliament". (Source: http://www.bungeni.org/)
It is based on open source standards and applications including Plone and is being developed in collaboration with eight national parliaments in Africa, including three countries IICD works in, namely Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda. I hadn’t heard of Plone being applied in such a high profile project in Africa before.
It just goes to show, days like this Plone users day can lead to many unexpected new sources of inspiration and possibilities for finding synergies! Thank you to the “Stichting Zope & Plone” for organizing this day!
Sep 14, 2007
Once in a while suggestions come in to improve IICD's online Monitoring and Evaluation tool ( http://demosurvey.iicd.org ). J...
Once in a while suggestions come in to improve IICD's online Monitoring and Evaluation tool (http://demosurvey.iicd.org). Just last week, my direct colleagues Hanna, Anne-Marijke and myself have been working on a new feature: an easy-to-download analysis. This came as a request from the project partners in Uganda. Until now, the download contained only the raw data which was not directly accessible for our partners. Project partners were already able to collect data online, by asking their end-users to fill in a questionnaire in the online tool, and now they will also be able to download the results directly from the tool. This will truly make ‘local ownership’ work in practice!
Monitoring and evaluation is key to understanding how and why modern technology exactly works for development. IICD has designed a way to measure how ICT projects impact people's lives and that has enabled our partners and us to learn a lot! Partners have improved their services to better reach their target groups and training sessions have been tailored to better fit the local needs.
The wide use of the online M&E tool resulted in 15,000 questionnaires from end-users in IICD's nine focal countries. In Bolivia the project partners have been empowered to continue Monitoring and Evaluation themselves without much support. The same trend is now happening in Uganda where the project owners of 16 projects with 65 up-country centres will be empowered to use the online M&E tool for their own benefit.
As officer Monitoring and Evaluation I have been involved in the design and development of the online learning tool since the beginning. This tool is up and running since 2005 as the open source software application WebEnq (http://www.webenq.org/), which is developed and maintained by Nivocer (firstname.lastname@example.org). Even though the tool is functioning well … “the development of the tool is never finished!” This remark was made by my colleague Anne-Marijke, after she implemented some changes in the questionnaire at the beginning of the year. It turns out many new suggestions come continuously from our partners in the countries. Next on the agenda is the improvement of measuring the longer term impact of our partner's training efforts. And surely this is not the last improvement that will be made… I will keep you posted!
Aug 27, 2007
In 2002, the IICD-supported project ‘ICT Basic Training’ (IBAT) was launched at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda. Throu...
In 2002, the IICD-supported project ‘ICT Basic Training’ (IBAT) was launched at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda. Through this project, an ICT training centre equipped with 42 computers was set up to train student-teachers and lecturers for the duration of a full semester course. Aside from being taught basic computer skills they were also shown how to use ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in the standard curriculum.
In July 2007, after five years, the project was successfully integrated into the University’s curriculum. During the final stage of this process, a discussion took place about the number of students and lecturers who had been introduced to ICTs via this project. A chaotic and protracted debate ensued in which various figures were bandied about, ranging from 6,000 to about 25,000. This discrepancy did not arise from the fact that it was impossible to say how many participants actually took part in the training courses (according to the registration figures, this was 6,200), but rather because it was difficult to estimate with any accuracy the total number of people who had benefited, both directly and indirectly, from the project. First of all, it is not known which percentage of the student-teachers actually uses these skills once they become a teacher. A short survey revealed that 65% of the participants are reaching out to an average of 50 students a year. Secondly, at any university the average computer is not being used by just one student at a time: students who are entitled to go for training have been taking along their friends, brothers, nephews, etc...
In sub-Saharan Africa there is a concept called “Ubuntu”. This concept is difficult to translate: it means something like ‘an individual only exists because of others’.
Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows: “A traveller through our country would stop at a village, and he didn't have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but Ubuntu has various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: “Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to improve?”
In other words, Ubuntu when applied to telecentres or computer labs could be taken to mean: ‘If you are entitled to use a computer, you should also take your friends and family to this new world’. Therefore, every time I walk into such a centre and see that the ratio computers:users is 1:3 (or worse) I think two things: “More computers are needed” and “Ubuntu in practice”.