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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ACCESS TO DATA AND INFORMATION FOR POVERTY ERADICATION

It’s approximately more than ten years since Uganda passed the Access to Information Act and following the United Nations new program of upholding to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) End poverty in all its forms everywhere,End hunger,achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture,Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages among others, Development Research and Training in conjunction with Rwenzori Information Centres Network have completely indulged in using information for poverty eradication platform under the umbrella of involving organizations and individuals in producing, processing, disseminating and sharing information for development. To implement this, the dual organized a half day workshop on 6th/October/2015 at St. Josephs Inn, Virika in Fort portal town on the role of information in development and the role and responsibilities of each stakeholder in ensuring an effective role of information in realizing Sustainable Development Goals.
Among those who attended the workshop were District Information Officers from the districts of Kabarole, Kasese, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo. Farmers and plant doctors were also present who discussed and shared a lot of information in regard to the primary objective of the workshop which was "to evaluate the impact of information in poverty eradication". Issues like technical people like the CAOs and LCVs should be involved in the ICT working world, information being something intangible, political leaders always do not take it as priority, access to information leads to an informed and empowered citizenry willing and able to make right decisions, media has played a significant role in information dissemination among others discussed. It was such an interactive exercise where farmers and plant doctors shared their experiences with the rest of the participants where they applauded the information centres like RIC-NET and BIC for supporting and empowering them with the ICT skills and gadgets which has enabled them to reach greater heights in their day to day farming activities. This was evident when Mr. Alex Thabulenga a beekeeper proudly exhibited his produce from bees and their products such as honey, propolise and bee venom among others. In his exhibition, he explained the prices of different bee products on both local and international market, their uses among others which knowledge he attributed to the use of internet and information centres from where he gets more information on how to carry on his farming whereas another one form Semuliki cooperative union in Bundibugyo that deals in cocoa shared his experience through which they have used ICT to connect their smaller cocoa growing primary units and so reach international Market.  
Mr. Thabulenga exhibiting his products from bees.
Threats and challenges such as competition, costly internet, limited knowledge on how to operate ICT tools such as smart phones, illiteracy, mobilization being difficult, inadequate tools and skills for capacity building, the law sometimes prohibits the giving of some information among others were all raised. The workshop was closed by the District Information Officer of Kabarole District who called upon the people to embrace change putting in mind the law, asked the CAOs to be involved in the ICT working environment and requested for registries in districts for more information dissemination.