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Monday, June 30, 2014

Supporting Women and children Affected by Congo Wars

Adopted from 
http://www.africaoffline.org/blog/interviews-with-victims-of.html by our Partner Ms. Allison Godwin Neumeister

I've been in western Uganda these past 10 days visitng a refugee transit center and working with the Ugandan-based information network, RIC-NET. (In the image below, the RIC-NET director and I are distributing clothes to Congolese refugees.)


RIC-NET operates an Information and E-Center network.

The centers are owned and operated in collaboration with advocacy groups that support:
  • Women and youth
  • Farmers and agriculture
  • Registered CBOs/NGOs
  • Learning/training institutions
  • District and local governments
Among the many projects that RIC-NET oversees is ICT training for victims of war.


Many young women affected by the Congo wars lost their opportunity to attend secondary school. RIC-NET provides them with vocational ICT training so they can earn a living through tech support (computer training, photocopying, Internet support, etc.) 



RIC-NET asked me to interview some of the girls. Hearing their stories is painful, and I'm in wonderment over how they've found the strength to smile and find a new beginning. 
  
Here's my first interview. Click the image below, or visit my Youtube link.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

RIC-NET DISCUSSION WITH PLANT CLINIC DOCTORS AND DISTRICT INFORMATION OFFICERS



Rwenzori Information Centers Network held an inception  and mapping of information needs meeting for the Access to and use of information project phase 11 on Friday 20th 2014 at St.Joseph’s inn virika. 
The one day meeting involved regional participants ranging from the District information officers, District Agricultural officers, Local Government, staff of Information centers, staff of RIC-NET and plant Clinic Doctors. 

While introducing the project, The Executive Director RIC-NET, Mr. Murugahara John Silco noted that the Access to information project is a short term project aimed at improving decision making about the allocation of Resources for poverty Eradication in the Rwenzori Region, through information documentation, repackaging, dissemination and use in decision making. 

The project targets 200 farmer households in the region and Through mapping of the different agricultural stakeholders, a data base will be developed with details of the Producers, Buyers, input suppliers, plant Doctors and  organizations in related  operating  outside Rwenzori Region.
The Executive Director also appreciated Development Research and training (DRT) a research Bas
ed NGO in Kampala that is technically supporting the project implementation with funding from Development Initiatives (DI), a UK based charity.
 
Project activities.
  • Mapping exercises of information needs for different agricultural enterprises or value chain in the region.
  • Design and deploy Agriculture information sharing platform for famers, extension workers, buyers and input suppliers- Agribridge.info
  • Disseminate farmer driven information on crop pests and diseases management through holding “Plant clinic”.
  • Hold symposium and think-tanks for linking Research organisation/ civil servants to farmer groups and community.
  • Advertise existing sms-web based platform to access and share information among citizens and civil servants i.e. M-trac, Edu-trac, U-report and Trac fm
  • Repackage and disseminate information on government budget resource   allocation to enable the citizens engage with their leaders.
  • Carry out a video documentary on access to information impact to poverty alleviation and civic engagement to better service delivery
 By the time the meeting ended the participants had clearly defined their roles in the project.
District Agricultural officers & plant Doctors


·      Coordinating and authenticating the information from plant clinics

·       Monitoring performance of the plant clinics

·       Early warnings of the crop pests and diseases

·        Contributing to the plant diseases and pests

·       Training in partnership with  plant wise

·       Coordination and extension services (  plant Doctor feeds into the  work of the Agricultural officer)
·       Enterprise selection the information from the plant Doctors informing the kind of enterprise to be selectedby the Farmers

Closing Remarks
While giving his closing remarks, the District  Agricultural officer kasese noted that one of the biggest factors of development is social capital which is built on   information sharing, "if we can't share information we cant go anywhere" 
 He noted that Every developed country started with agriculture giving an example of Ireland that started with irish potatoes growing
He finally  asked the participants to watch out for the   the different plant diseases & pests especially  in maize as it had been announced which was threatening farmers in the region .
He also appreciated RIC-NET for  bringing  the stakeholders to jointly plan for better resource allocation through a campaign of sourcing and diseminating reliable information.











Monday, June 16, 2014

U-reporter Enables RICNET to carry out action research about her sms platform



RIC-NET has been running sms platform since 2010 to send sms alerts, receive feedback on radio programmes, sensitize parents about their roles at schools,  sensitise citizens about their roles in the governance and electoral processes, provide weather information alerts, market information and preventive health alerts.
Every year RIC-NET sends out over 500,000 sms on these different issues to over 3,500 citizens in her database residents of Rwenzori region, therefore the organisation required a clear feedback on effectiveness of these sms in delivering the intended massage.
The organisation sample two District Kasese and Kabarole and send over 1,500 sms to users the following questions:
 1. Is SMS a useful way of informing parents on issues about their children at school? Yes/No, why?
2.       Have you or your parent ever taken action because of the SMS received about education from RIC-NET?

The results of these questions are as follows

836 people responded the first question and 510 responded to the 2nd question.

Out of 836 people, 497 disagreed with sms as effective channel for information to the parents with mostly giving reasons as most parents are illiterate, expensive to buy phones, not able to engage on phones. But this contradicted the fact the 836 out of 1,500 people had responded to the poll.


Responses based on Gender on 1st question

Sex
no
other
yes
Total
F
130
4
67
201
M
234
5
164
403
N/A
132
5
95
232
Total
496
14
326
836





It was observed that mostly people from Kasese responds to sms than Kabarole District.

Responses based on sex, category per district

Category
Sex
Kabarole
Kasese
Total

no
F
49
81
130


M
51
183
234


N/A
36
96
132

other
F
2
2
54


M
1
4
5


N/A
1
4
5

yes
F
27
40
67


M
49
115
164


N/A
21
74
95

Grand Total

237
599
836










Response on the 2nd question
 55%  (282 people out of  the 510) who responded to question 2 had taken action because of the our sms. This was positive compared to 33% who regarded sms as effective in sharing education information to parents.
This  can generally imply that, though only 326 people regard sms positive, at least  282 of these take action action.