Using modern information and communication technologies
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CTA. 2005. Using modern information and communication technologies. Rural Radio Resource Pack 2005. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57388
Use of the internet to communicate nutrition information, and overcoming problems of access.
Using modern information and communication technologies Suggested introduction: When did you last use a computer? What were you using it for? Maybe you have never used one and don?t feel you need to. For most people who have started using computers in the last ten years, probably the most popular service that computers offer is email. For sending messages to family, friends and colleagues, email can be the quickest and most reliable method. Computers can also be a valuable source of information, allowing users to search for up-to-date news, weather reports, health or even market information, through the internet. Interestingly however, research suggests that far fewer people use computers as a source of information, certainly compared to the number who use email. The reason? Perhaps the expense of paying for time online, or not knowing how to search for the right information. And many of us are simply unaware of what useful information might be available, and continue to rely on other sources, such as TV, radio, newspapers and friends. Faye Durrant, Professor of Library and Information studies at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica believes strongly that computer-based technologies have a lot to offer, not just to highly skilled professionals, but also to rural people making a living from agriculture and other local industries. At a recent conference in Belize, she, and other participants, discussed the power of these technologies for rural development; afterwards, they spoke to Susanna Thorp about their own experiences. IN: ?Well certainly in terms of the uptake? OUT: ?the information that they require. DUR?N 5?59? Back announcement: Thomas Burton ending that report on the current usage of ICTs - Information and Communication Technologies - for rural development in the Caribbean. Transcript Durrant Well certainly in terms of the uptake of the Internet that is increasing daily. So I think that is one of the ways in which we can get a large region like this, one point on the Internet can be accessible to everybody in the whole region. Thorp But for vulnerable groups this presumably is not something that they necessarily can access particularly on an individual level? Durrant What has been happening and certainly in Jamaica is the development of tele centres via the public library system where there are public access computers which people can go in and use for this kind of information without having to have their own dedicated computer. Thorp And what about the introduction of these things, these technologies in schools that the children are learning at the new generation? Durrant Yes certainly that is where the children are catching on very fast to the whole facility of email and searching for information on the web. What we want to ensure is that when they search they can find a spot where they have reliable information that will give them the basis for long term decision making on their diet and the way in which they develop their own personal nutrition strategies. Thorp Because there isn?t a lack of information, it is actually people knowing where to go to find it? Durrant Exactly and even having it in the form because now children want multimedia, they don?t want any ten pages of text telling them something. They want something that jumps out at them and says, ?Look at me!? So it is also the way in which information might be packaged for them at that age and stage. NARR It is not only in Jamaica that the use of computers is growing. Andrea Robbin, Head of the Nutrition Unit within the Ministry of Health and the Environment told me about the situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Robbin I think that the youth are embracing, for example, computer based technologies and older persons maybe a little more tentative and sometimes the policymakers are the older persons. But in St Vincent and the Grenadines we have a government Internet, a website and government Intranet as well as government email. So those are opportunities for sharing information that we really want to use and our nutrition unit in the Ministry of Health and Environment is already submitting information to the St Vincent and the Grenadines government website in terms of the newspaper articles and some of the radio scripts that we produce. But I think that there is a need for access for the consumers in terms of Internet access to that website and to maybe other websites related to food and nutrition security. Hardware in terms of actual computers. I think the government has programmes to introduce computers to maybe community resource centres and learning centres, but I do not know in terms of how far it reaches. Thorp So that people could go to that community resource centre and download information that they needed on recipes or good nutrition or breastfeeding for instance? Robbin Absolutely or backyard gardening best practices, or other aspects of food and nutrition security whether it is from an agricultural perspective, health perspective, nutrition perspective. NARR And while the use of computers to access information is starting to grow, they also have other uses. Thomas Burton, from Jamaica?s Rural Agricultural Development Authority, RADA, explains how his organisation is using them to record and analyse information, as well as provide it. Burton Well at the moment RADA is trying to implement an ICT based information system, which will benefit both the extension officers and the farmers. We are at the moment carrying out a national registration programme for all farmers, so that we can know the numbers with whom we are interacting and can make plans to satisfy their various demands. This information that is garnered will also give the size of the holdings that they are operating, their locations, what they are planting at the various times and what is expected, times of harvesting and output possible. It will also give a possibility on projected price so the farmers will know how much they can expect to earn from a given unit area of production. The extension officer will input this data on his computer system and then farmers can also come to the office and get information from him on what has been required in the different market centres at different times. Thorp And how do farmers feel, do you think farmers are willing to embrace new technologies in order to get the information that they require? Burton They are willing to embrace the technology but the older farmers are at a disadvantage in that they have not been trained in how to use these devices. So what we are hoping is that the children who are currently in school and are being afforded the opportunity to learn how to use the computers for example can now pass on information to their parents. The problem also is that many of these resource deficient farmers are not able to buy computer equipment so they will have to probably depend on what is at the library or what is in the community centre and this can slow down the process. So we are hoping that as the price of the equipment gets lower, then more persons will be able to access this. However if they cannot access it in their own homes we have 60 extension offices across the island which are being equipped with computers so the farmers can go to these centres and get the information that they require. End of track.