Changed Initiatives: Bringing together women's groups and enabling a virtual interaction on sustainable development

Author: 
Mondira Dutta

Change Initiatives is an NGO based in West Bengal. Its major focus has been to explore the role of ICT to promote development with a strong focus on research. Among other initiatives their aim has been to bring together women’s groups and help in virtual interaction and work towards sustainable development with the help of communication tools such as ICTs, videos and print.

Assumption

Better access to ICT tools would speed up development. However a lack of electricity and connectivity in the remote areas of India made it simply impossible for people to access ICT.

Action

Initiatives established contact with West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA), which had developed a solar-rickshaw van for selling diesel in villages. This solar van opened up an avenue for mobile telecentres and it became possible to take ICT tools to the grassroots, overcoming the hurdle of irregular power supply. Thus the innovative concept of Telecentre on Wheels (TOW) was born.

Outcomes

The access to electricity and software helped to answer queries of farmers, train youths, impart knowledge in areas of health, education, and human rights etc. It also built a group of e-literate volunteers in villages who could respond to questions on the forum.

Therefore, with the help of this innovation, information is reached to the grass roots without any problem of electricity, connectivity and road network.

Lessons Learned

In order to activate a community the livelihood skills need to address a need based approach.

Existing issues such as illiteracy and major bottlenecks are to be kept in mind and how these can be overcome need to be deliberated upon.

Since this is one of the ethnographic action research initiative for development of the poor especially women, it has become a flagship attempt to participatory program implementation. When women were asked to write
diaries and share their experiences , they developed like a community and their bonds strengthened. This helped to generate a loyalty to who wants the program to be implemented.

In a left governed State like West Bengal where roots of local governance and people’s campaigns are quite old the BP has revealed that a form of bonding facilitates and accelerates implementation.

Year of publication: 
2008
Collection: 
Other collections
Country: 
INDIA
Themes and sectors: 
Gender
Themes and sectors: 
Information and communications technology
Case story length: 
6 pages

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