ICT Villages

Solar Villages in Honduras

In 1999, the first ICT village project was implemented in Honduras after the region had been affected by Hurricane Mitch. With the support of the local government and main international organizations, like UNESCO, it was possible to implement two projects of development by the means of ICT technologies in the middle of Honduras, specifically in the villages of San Ramon and San Francisco de Lempira.The first action was to provide electricity through fuel cell panels: it was chosen to use solar energy because it is cleaner and, with the help of accumulators, able to constantly supply alimentation for several electronic devices, like satellite tubes, computers, fridges to store vaccines and other medical drugs. Moreover, solar energy was also employed to provide street lighting at night. After electricity was brought, a bidirectional satellite connection hub was installed so that the two villages, that used to be completely isolated, could be linked with the rest of the world.

This project is a perfect example of the way local traditions can be combined with new technologies. The computers, initially carried on the mules’ backs, became efficient devices to digitalize and store memories and wisdom of the village community, making it possible to continue to keep and protect the local cultural heritage. After the successful equipment installation, computer courses were introduced for both young and aged people. In this way, the whole community started learning how to apply new technologies for different activities, such as word-processing and e-learning.

Moreover, the project also offered job perspectives, since several young people, who were the keenest in adopting and learning the usage of the new technologies and were chosen to hold online Spanish courses for the students of Oklahoma University. This is the perfect example of how the ICT village international cooperation plan implies direct participation of the local community in the projects aimed at improving people’s lives.

Portal for indigenous people at the Navajo Nation

In his intervention to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis in 2005, the President of the Navajo Nation John Shirley announced the creation of an internet portal for indigenous people to make them capable not only to share their cultural heritage with the rest of the World, but also to make others aware of the matters related to the local economy and to social growth.

To achieve these goals, President Shirley signed a memorandum of understanding with the ITU and OCCAM for the creation of a digital platform able to support local indigenous people in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Navajo Nation was recognised as a key player in the field of ICT for Development thanks to the great results that were achieved in its activities in this area.

The priorities encompassed in the projects are: the respect of human rights, the safeguard of environment, and the glamorization of local traditions. The project is oriented to improve the living conditions of Navajo people, mainly dependent on textile industry and ceramic handicrafts, and make their lives more comfortable and prosperous thanks to the wise use of Information and Communication Technologies, which have already proved to be a crucial instrument to promote the communitarian development within the Navajo Nation.

Thanks to the ICT Plan in Navajo Nation, over a four years span, broadband connection was provided over a wide territory embracing four US states: part of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

The provision of e-services, like e-health, e-learning, and e-commerce, through the satellite and radio connections contributed to economic growth and also to the improvement of the government capacity to deal with emergencies and to ensure public security. Indeed, seven Navajo Police stations were supplied with satellite connection in collaboration with the US Minister of Justice. For what concerns education, during the first years of implementation the Department of education established wireless internet connection with more than 200 classes.

ICT Village in Southern Lebanon

At the beginning of the 2000s, South Lebanon was a wide region bordered by the line traced by UN blue helmets and counting for 70 000 thousands inhabitants in the need of tranquillity, peace, and political stability.

In 2003, OCCAM, in collaboration with Staffan de Mistura, the High representative of the UN General Secretary in South of Lebanon at that time, launched the support action for the community of Meiss al-Jabal. As a result, two digital classrooms were introduced, enabling the students to free themselves from the condition of refugees in the attempt to improve their future.

Unfortunately, the tragic events of 2006 worsened the situation: lots of villages were destroyed, including Meiss al-Jabal.

Besides the activities in Meiss al-Jabal, OCCAM also opened a collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Culture for the revivification of the Cinémateque National (that was created thanks to OCCAM and the International Council for Film and Television of UNESCO) as a way to give new hope to Lebanese culture. The reconstruction of the Cinémateque National is another initiative to protect and share the local cultural heritage. As a matter of fact, cinema and audiovisual culture had a very strong role in Lebanon and helped the creation of a shared cultural background among the different souls of the Country.

Despite the recent war and the subsequent political turmoil that slowed our activities in the Country, the rebuilding process is ongoing and the projects keep on supporting and encouraging people, especially new generations, to develop those skills necessary to create a better future for the country.

ICT Village in Madagascar

After the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and to follow upon the proposal to support the Alliance of the United Nations for the Rural Development in two pilot countries, Madagascar and the Dominican Republic, OCCAM proposed to start activities in the African island. The very first step was the organization of an exploration mission to identify the location in which an ICT Village project could be carried out.

After an accurate analysis and meetings with the local authorities and population, held in collaboration with Marc Ravalomanna, the President of the Republic of Madagascar, the community of Sambaina was selected.

The village is near the road leading to Antananarivo and has 7000 inhabitants who mainly live on agriculture and craft industry.

After the assessment of the local needs, the community’s buildings (elementary school, health presidium, community access center) were provided with computers and other devices, and basic digital alphabetization activities started. The great interest expressed by the local population and the immediate support by the Government made possible the inauguration of:

  1. a digital classroom that served the more than 600 students of the community, in order to accelerate the digital alphabetization of the community and create new jobs;
  2. a new community area accessible to all;
  3. a refurbished health presidium equipped for pregnant women and newborn children.

In June 2006, in the occasion of the second mission to Sambaina, Jeffrey Sachs, head of the Millennium Project of the United Nations, and Special Advisor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, visited the village together with Pierpaolo Saporito, President of OCCAM, Zina Andrianarivelo-Rafazy, Permanent Representative of Madagascar to the UN in New York and the Malagasy authorities. The model of intervention implemented in Sambaina, which exploits the ICTs as instruments to fight poverty and promote development also through the deployment of services such as e-learning, telemedicine, e-governance, was hailed as a success. On that occasion, Sambaina was proclaimed Millennium Village by the United Nations.

Thanks to the agreement with the satellite provider Skylogic, in July 2008 broadband connectivity was provided to the community of Sambaina, opening new perspectives in the delivery of broadband e-services for development, including innovative use of ultrasound technology and e-phytopathology, to be exploited by Sambaina and neighboring villages as well.  

The Ville Village Project

OCCAM launched the Ville Village Project on the occasion of the Summit of Local Powers in 2005, to favour the direct collaboration between communities in developing countries and cities in industrialized countries, in order to promote economic, cultural and social mutual growth and to optimize resources of local powers and NGOs in their cooperation for development initiatives.

The first realization of Ville Village was achieved with the MoU signed on December 4th 2008 between Lodi and Sambaina. In the framework of this activity, Lodi was chosen to exploit the excellences of its territory, such as the Parco Tecnologico Padano (specialised in Agriculture), the Hospital (already active in the field of ultrasound telemedicine) and the NGO based on its area. Innovative centres of e-services for development (such as   e-phytopathology and e-veterinary) were created in Lodi.

This initiative, that applies the potentials of the digital revolution to the traditional principle of twinnings at the roots of the European Union, represents an extraordinary tool, as it activates concrete development dynamics on an egalitarian basis between  developed and developing countries, favouring a real interexchange, also from the economic perspective, in a win-win approach that can also lead to the creation of new markets.

ICT Village in Peru

Similar to the ICT Village in Sambaina, the ICT Village in Villa El Salvador was commissioned by the ONG “Fepomueves”, and aimed at promoting the development of the conditions of women in this community within the metropolitan area of Lima.

The community was endowed with 10 computers and high speed connectivity to boost the productivity and digital literacy of the project’s beneficiaries. Besides, specific training on the use of e-commerce was conducted thanks to the collaboration with REDTienda, specialized in the creation of web portals for micro and small enterprises.