ICTD2010 (XIV). From ICT to Impact?

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Paper Session: From ICT to Impact?

The Bank Account is not Enough: Examining Strategies for Financial Inclusion in India
Olga Morawczynski, David Hutchful, Nimmy Rangaswamy, Edward Cutrell

ICTs have been very successful at extending financial and transactional services.

NREGA is an Idian programme that guarantees 100 days of paid work, a payment that requires bank accounts, and which has raised the demand for them, and thus the need to manage them.

Notwithstanding, there is low usage of bank accounts, where 3/4 of them have almost no money and 1/5 are dormant / show no periodical movements.

Why is it so? A survey was performed to find the financial habits, the financial literacy and the technology-related issues with bank usage.

Usage was high among the high and middle earning groups. These informants exhibited the highest levels of financial literacy (while others e.g. were afraid of losing their money if put in the bank). They also used a more diverse set of financial instruments.

Usage was low among the low earning and NREGA dependent groups. These informants exhibited the lower levels of financial literacy. They also used a less diverse set of financial instruments.

Usage was higher among low earning informants who knew both services were available. These informants also had a more diverse portfolio than those who only knew about the disbursement service.

Discussion

Ismael Peña-López: did you control for the way people got their income (in kind, cash, transfer…)? A: In a first interview, people that had no interest (personal or objective) in banking were detected and separated from the rest of the interviewees. This project is aimed at people that potentially could benefit from a more intensive use of banking according to their profiles. Amongts those, though, there did not seem to be a major difference between the ways of getting the income and financial literacy, but on the exposure to financial information.

Understanding the Links Between ICT skills Training and Employability: An Analytical Framework
Maria Garrido, Joe Sullivan, Andrew Gordon

Understand the relationship between basic ICT skills training and employability; map the different roles that NGOs play in workforce development; build an analytical framework.

For 4 years 10 studies have been performed in 30 countries on a variety of NGO ICT training programmes.

Enter the employability factor: Employability helps us understand dynamic beyond jobs, the fact that you have greater skills may not translate into a job.

Narrowing the topic to immigrant women, ICT training and employability in the European Union. Women are migrating in greater numbers for the purpose of finding jobs. They account for more than 50% of the immigrant population in most European countries. They have double disadvantage in the labour market: as women and as migrants. Computer literacy is one of the assets that may make a change.

Interviews with women that had and had not taken part of ICT training in European NGOs. NGO traning matters: digital competences for immigrant women who did not participate in NGO training are lower. ICT training can encourage further training in other skills. Immigrant women with advanced skills are less likely to be unemployed, though no correlation between ICT skill level and employment status for women with non, basic or intermediate skills. The social space created b the training helped them to diversify their social networks.

Barriers: country of origin is a strong determinant of future sector of employment in host country, well above educational level. It is very difficult to get out of the socio-economic circle that the immigrant lands on when hitting the host country.

ICT skills training en employability framework:

  • NGO factors: organizational characteristics; training programme characteristics.
  • Personal factors: sense of self; workplace readiness; social networks.
  • Environmental factors: labour market; public policy; social dynamics.

Takeaweays:

  • From employment to employability.
  • The role of NGOs in workforce employment.
  • Three roles of ICT skills training: improves technical skills; catalyses the development of non-technical social and cultural skills.

Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)

Research Seminar. Beyond ICT access: what kind of integration for ‘connected migrants’?

Notes from the research seminar Beyond ICT access: what kind of integration for ‘connected migrants’?, held at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Barcelona, Spain, on October 14, 2010.

Beyond ICT access: what kind of integration for ‘connected migrants’?
Adela Ros

Why is there a proliferation of telecentres around which immigrants gather? In many places in the world, immigrants meet in telecentres, and not only to call home or use any kind of Internet service. Why is it so? Indeed, in the home countries of these immigrants (there emigrants) there is a symmetric reality that mirrors the telecentre as a gathering point in the host countries: telecentres in countries of origin have also a specific role that goes beyond just access to the Internet.

Migrants state that access to Internet or mobile telephony is changing their lives. Actually, most of them were non-users before they migrated to another country.

If you cannot see the video, please visit <a href="http://ictlogy.net/?p=3573">http://ictlogy.net/?p=3573

The research programme has gone from “Immigration and Information Society” to “Migration and Network Society”. It has shifted from analysing the casual relationships if ICTs and flows of migrations — very ICT centered — to a research more focused on the social implications of technology, seeing ICTs more as an intermediary, especifically to understand migration under the current conditions of networks of information and communication, seeing networks rather than migration itself as what is worth. This includes:

  • The organization of migration.
  • The experience of being dislocated.
  • The ways of establishing social capital in migrant contexts.
  • The everyday life of migrants.
  • The new mechanisms of power.
  • The influence of national and other traditional political-jurisdictional boundaries.

Beyond ICT access: beyond access for disadvantages groups, beyond space and time for dislocated groups. Are groups of migrants more or less included in their host societies because of ICTs? Does access to ICTs affect their levels of inclusion (mind you: not e-inclusion)? What are the new elements that reinforce inequality and disadvantages also in the case of the connected migrant?

Project1: Mihaela Vancea

A bivariate analysis was performed to calculate the digital divide as referred to the distance between migrants and natives and taking into account the technological equipment of households by origin.

Concerning home availability of technology, there are differences between natives and migrants. For instance, desktops are more frequent between natives but Satellite TV is more frequent between migrants. In general, though, most homes (natives’ and migrants’) only differ in the lowest levels of technology at home, were natives’ are better off.

Big differences come in usage. Surprisingly, migrants are normally more intensive users of technology (Internet, mobiles) but are less likely to use it from home or workspace. On the contrary, they are much more likely to connect to the Internet in a telecentre.

Concerning the qualitative use of the Internet, communication-related uses are more likely to be performed by migrants, while information searches or access to online services are more likely to be performed by natives.

Running a multivariate analysis, the determinants of living in a technologically advanced household are being an immigrant (-), the level of education (+), age (-), gender (being a woman), having a job (+), the number of children at home (-), the household structure (+) and the habitat (+). Concerning Internet usage, findings are similar, though opposite for gender, and very strong for computer ownership. In general terms, we can state that being an immigrant conceals/hides a latent effect of social class.

Project2: Graciela De La Fuente

Project on Bolivian women in Catalonia.

In recent years, there has been an increase of female migration from Bolivia to Spain. This has had some consequences in the country of origin, as more dis-attended children and child abuse, higher rates of school drop-out, etc.

The project took a participatory action research approach, within the framework of a training context. The project also aimed at understanding how Bolivian immigrant women were managing the distance with their families, what challenges they had to deal with as a first generation of immigrant women.

The methodology, strictly qualitative, had a twofold approach: a training and a research methodology. The former centred in workshops, tutorial action and support groups; the latter based on discussion groups, questionnaires and in depth interviews.

Results showed that migrant women with limited educational levels and with literacy problems are not excluded from the use of ICTs; on the contrary, they make often use of them: they just make other kinds of use of them, appropriating technologies based on their specific needs.

Maintaining family ties and relationships at a distance is the key motivation for the use of ICTs. But this type of use also drives them to using the Internet as a source of information or recreation. ICTs are really central in their everyday lives in many different aspects (even one of the interviewees acknowledged having resigned from a job because there was no public Internet access point nearby). These Bolivian women fear no more technology and have it under their control and use it for their own purposes.

Discussion

An interesting debate ensues on the topic of the knowledge gap theory.

I state that we have evidence that sustains the knowledge gap theory in education (laptops do well in education for kids with higher socioeconomic status and do bad for those with lower SES), and more evidence sustaining the knowledge gap theory in e-participation and e-democracy (people with higher SES participate more online and get better results, people with lower SES are actually kicked out of the online debate).

So, my point is whether all this access to ICTs is, in the end, good or bad? What if, in a very cold and materialistic approach, migrants are “losing their time” chatting with their peers at home instead of levering the power of ICTs for their own (economic) benefit? What if they end up worse than they would be without ICTs (just recall the woman that left a job because it was far from the telecentre)? Is there a trade-off between getting home information and using ICTs for “productive” purposes? Is there a trade-off between time to maintain home bounds and time to improve their local lives? How does ICT affect these trade-offs? Do they actually worsen them migrants?

Graciela De La Fuente thinks otherwise: most migrants’ intention is getting back home the sooner the better. So, on the one hand, they are not very much interested in improving their lives in their host country, but earning some money, sent it back home and, when possible, be back with their beloved ones. On the other hand, and closely related to the previous point, it might indeed be a rational choice not to improve their lives in their host country but to maintain their social network in their home country: this way, when they’ll be back, they’ll still be a part of the community.

Graciela’s point is surely very relevant. But then, maybe governments should rethink their policies of integration and shape them as policies of “transition”. Graciela’s point of view is that, even if that might be true, it is also true that many migrants, despite their intentions, end up not getting back home, so integration policies still apply.

The open question then is: can we provide e-government services (one of the upcoming projects of the research group) both for the ones to be integrated and the ones in transition?

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (X). Inclusion and Remote Communities

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

Inclusion through e-Learning in remote Northern areas of Pakistan
Alamdar Khan Sahiar

Project focused in training teachers and trainers, raising awareness through ICT tools (i.e. e-Learning) about basic issues like Health, Education, Sanitation or Micro Credit.

Goals are to create a community action plan through e-learning and awareness raising in a remote location, using local languages (i.e. neither English nor Urdu), ICT infrastructures and ICT awareness, and delivering content.

As even dial-up connections are difficult to attain, content is delivered offline through memory sticks.

The focus in e-learning — instead of face-to-face or traditional learning — is due to the difficulty for teachers to travel from small villages to the capital and the territorial dispersion of these teachers.

Analysis of ICT Policies and Plans in 23 Muslim countries — level of women considerations
Salma Abbasi

Main goal: Development framework for holistic inclusion of women in the Knowledge Society in Pakistan. “Women” and not “Gender” because there are many details that get obscured when talking about “gender” in general.

Research questions

  • How do women use ICTs and what’s the impact
  • What are the cultural and social barriers and constraing faced by Muslim women?
  • What recommendations from the field can we do?
  • What level of women considerations can be or are included in ICT policies?

The methodology followed was to conduct interviews to elite women in 23 Muslim countries + 72 focus groups in Pakistan. Then, a keyword search was performed to analyse texts on ICT policies and see, for instance, whether the word “woman/women” was used in these policies. For each policy that did considerate women, a second analysis was done by using 17 elements of considerations: employment in ICT, job opportunities, economic impact, remote tele-working… In other words: the idea was, in out of 17 “topics” or subjects dealt with in ICT policies, to find in which of them the woman factor was directly addressed.

Results show that the main elements with the woman factor are related to employment in ICT, education, economic impact, the values of social engagement, etc.

Then, 51 women specific barriers (identified in fieldwork, e.g. sexist language) were also identified in ICT policies. Most countries do not touch any of the barriers.

Third part of the research deals with the policy formulation process: the influence of the women’s involvement, the consultative process, the guidelines and toolkits, and the benchmarking.

In general, we see that there’s no focus in “women” in ICT policies, and no “ICT” focus in gender policies. Same with disabled people and most collectives in risk of exclusion.

Better integration of immigrants in Swedish local society through ICTs
Shakhawat Hossain Bhuiyan & Sayed Wakar Naqvi

Immigrants use Internet to search information, but information is limited in tghe municipality websitges, specially in Swedish, English and just sometimes other languages. The amount of information varies from language to language and there is a lack of information about the job market.

The aim of this research is to identify the communication gap and to maximize the usages of ICT for better integration.

Research questions:

  • What is the immigrant’s potential in terms of ICT usage, specially in Internet usage?
  • What is the immigrant’s desire towards Swedish culture and social values
  • What are the present facilities and resources for the immigrant?
  • How ICT could be used for better integration?

The theoretical framework is Hiller and Belanger’s (2001) e-Government Teleology to frame a survey to new immigrants learning Swedish language, and interviews to administrative staffs, teachers and students to know existing integration system and in what extent ICTs are used.

From the 61 persons that took part in the survey, we can see that most of them have computer and Internet at home, and more than half of them have a Bachelors degree or more and have a good level of English [this profile, along with the fact that they are following courses on Swedish language, makes us think that it is not the typical collective that comes to mind when thinking about “immigrants”, but instead, white collar high income immigrants].

One of the main conclusions is that these immigrants need awareness and support to cover their information needs, and it seems that there’s still room for improvement in how the government (state and local) fulfils these needs through their websites.

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Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)

Gender Evaluation for Social Change

Live notes at the research seminar Gender Evaluation for Social Change by Chat Garcia Ramilo, Coordinator of the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme, Manila (Philippines). Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Castelldefels (Barcelona), Spain, May 12th, 2009.

Gender Evaluation for Social Change
Chat Garcia Ramilo

Why gender evaluation? Evidence showed that ICT4D did not integrate gender considerations, though evidence also shows that effectiveness and impact of development projects increases if gender is integrated in design, planning and evaluation.

Gender Evaluation Methodology

Based on participatory action research.

  • Testing and development of a gender evaluation tool for ICT4D projects: teleworking, ICT training projects, telecenters, etc.
  • Capacity building in gender evaluation: telecenters, rural ICT projects, ICT policy processes and localization (of content)

Findings and challenges

  • a gap in capacity for analysis and evaluation of gender-based inequalities
  • weak focus on gender in project design, implementatoin and policy formulation
  • how to develop evaluative thinking about gender and ICT4D, and use it to shape new gender practices within the ICT4D sector? how to make it in a participatory action research framework?

How gender makes a difference in ICT4D and access to the Information Society:

  • Comparative access to infrastructures by women and men are determined by income levels
  • Capacity affected by literacy and education levels
  • Services affected by relevance of service, mobility, safety issues
  • Governance affected by opportunities for participation in policy processes

These aspects have to be taken into consideration if one is to design an ICT4D project in a specific place. The design of this project will sensibly be different depending on how gender is affecting the former issues.

But gender is not only about “women issues”, but also about social and cultural variables, how do the interplay of these variables impact on women and men.

The Pallitathya model

The Pallitathya help line Blangladesh center is a help desk service which consists in five basic components:

  • local content
  • multiple channels of information and knowledge sharing
  • intermediation or infomediation, human interface between information and knowledge-base
  • ownership
  • mobilisation and marketing

This project’s desing helped women with specific queries (related to gender) or with lower literacy rates to reach a knowledge that, had the ICt4D project been designed in a different way, they would most probably have missed.

Philippine Community e-Centers

Telecenters in peri-urban areas. Though in absolute terms there were not much difference in usage rates amongst women and men, difference could be seen in how the telecenters were used and what values they assigned to them. For instance, women used the telecenters as ways to meet people, as ways to socialize. There were also differences in patterns of access and utilization in relation to age, education and income.

Fantsuam’s Zittnet Service — Nigeria’s first Community Wireless Network

To increase female uptake of the Internet, especially in rural areas.

Coverage of signal was not the issue, but hardware and high costs of bandwidth. Still, even if coverage was good, women had to travel to the centers, and this was a barrier for uptake, as also was low literacy levels.

Maybe it’s not about a wireless network, but embedding this project into a wider one aimed to reduce poverty by supporting rural female farmers. Besides, there is a clear preference towards voice communication over written, and SMS over the Internet.

SOS SMS

In distressful situations, women can send an SMS that is received by 5 institutions. Besides reporting of harassment and direct action by the authorities, these messages can be aggregated and thus infer patterns and profiles where harassment and distress are more likely to happen.

Why ICT4D (for women)?

  • ICTs can provide access to resources and contribution to income, knowledge, etc.
  • Indirect impact of ICT4D and access to income, knowledge, education, etc. on self-confidence and self-esteem. ICT4Ds have an impact on empowerment, in changing relationships, in agency.
  • Emergence of new roles (of women).
  • Changes in relationships

Why gender evaluation in ICT4D?

  • Evidence of change in gender roles and relations can be used for more gender sensitive policies and programmes.
  • Evaluations contribute to developing benchmarks and indicators for gender equality in ICT
  • Developing capacity in gender evaluation (and gender planning) is a key contributing factor in mainstreaming gender in ICT for development

Q & A

Q: What’s the general procedure for such projects? A: There are mentors that capacitate evaluation facilitators through workshops, and then an evaluation plan is developed together with all the members of the partnership working on the project. Online spaces are created (e.g. with Ning) to support interaction and network creation.

Assumpció Guasch: It’s easier to work about gender evaluation if the promoters — especially governments — of ICT4D projects already have some gender awareness. Another issue is knowing the ICT Sector and the Industry, what’s the legal framework they’re facing. And it is also important knowing what are the technological issues that are crucial in these projects.

Q: How important is the role of capacity building? How is sustainability dealt with in gender projects? A: To be able to have some impact, capacity has to be built. As part of the capacity building strategy, handbooks and toolkits are built so that a certain levels of capacity and impact can be achieved quickly. Empowerment is, arguably, a measure of sustainability, as the more empowered the people the more self-replicable the model. But projects are not that easy to translate from one place to another.

Cecilia Castaño: Besides direct, action and empowerment, a gender focus has also some other derivatives: a sense of listening to “unheard” people, creating community and raising awareness about gender.

Comment: mobiles vs. Internet? People like Barry Wellman state that mobile phones help strengthening the strong ties (e.g. family), while the Internet helps broadening your network of weak ties.

Ismael Peña-López: can the Gender Evaluation Methodology be transposed to other collectives (e.g. immigrants, lower income collectives, etc.) so that to better design ICT4D projects? I guess that in gender-based projects there is a part that is strictly related to gender, but another part that deals with identifying and managing inequality and difference. Inasmuch there is a “managing the difference” issue, I wonder whether some gender-based projects could be just slightly adapted to identify and improve other projects aimed to bride other “differences”: educational, income, etc. Methodology, handbooks and toolkits, etc. could be then split in two parts: identifying, managing and evaluating the differential factor; and then focusing in the specific differential factor: gender, education, age, income, disabilities…

A: Gender is not only man vs. men but is much more complex: education, income, etc. So, it really makes sense to address the gender issue in itself. A gender approach does not mean that the project is focused towards the e-development of women, but just trying to include a new variable in the project. And there’s gender everywhere, so it maybe does not make a lot of sense thinking about “taking gender out” of the equation.

Assumpció Guasch: some projects in Extremadura (Spain) have tried to apply gender methodologies into e.g. age issues. The difference between gender and other issues is the pervasiveness of the former.

More information

About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.