13 November 2007

Using ICTs to support Rural Livelihoods

Materials from a recent World Bank staff workshop on ICT's role in fighting rural poverty are available on the InfoDev web site.

The focus was on ways that a broad range of ICTs can be used to promote sustainable rural livelihoods by improving agricultural incomes, enhancing the efficiency and transparency of key rural institutions, increasing information flows, strengthening access to finance and reducing vulnerabilities.

Some of the topics covered:
  • Using ICT to Support Rural Livelihoods: What do we know?
  • Critical Success Factors in Harnessing ICT in Agriculture & Rural Development Projects
  • Using ICT to Support Rural Livelihoods: Extension, Market Information, Access to Finance, Access to Weather Information, Disaster Early Warning and Country Preparedness.
The report of the workshop synthesized the lessons and identified key issues still to be addressed, including:
  1. More work is needed on clarifying the conceptual framework for understanding, designing and assessing the impact of ICT interventions to promote rural development and sustainable agriculture.
  2. Better coordination/integration of various developmental interventions: Neither the Bank nor its client countries are fully successful in capturing the synergies among various interventions in the rural space (ICT, infrastructure, small business development, public sector reform).
  3. Particularly at the project level, we need better tools to evaluate the impact of ICT interventions in ARD projects.
  4. We need to understand better how a broad range of ICT can increase both the variety of and easy access to relevant content for rural populations (e.g. price information, weather information).
  5. We need to help traditional actors in agriculture and rural development (including, for example, extension agents, cooperatives, etc.) gain a better understanding of how they can successfully navigate the changes brought by ICTs, and how to respond to any opportunities.
  6. Two very promising retail models – rural kiosks and mobile-based systems – dominate the market. Which models – or combination of models – is suitable in particular contexts, and for particular services/clients?
  7. What are good models for increasing the advocacy and voice of rural stakeholders in national policy on ICT issues, including issues of rural access?

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