Monday, April 30, 2007

Kenyan agro exports v. carbon miles

Kenyan cut flowers make up 32% Of the EU market, 90% of cut roses to the UK market, according to this story. Kenya supplies all of the green beans bought by UK supermarket chain Marks & Spencer, and 75% of runner beans.

However, due to concern about 'air miles', UK retailers have begun labeling produce flown in with an airplane sticker (though have not reduced imports). A study is cited, however, that Kenyan produce produces less carbon than European, because of the year-round sunshine in the former, vs. greenhouse-grown produce in the latter.

An NGO charges big Kenyan flower produces of worker exploitation and exposure to poisonous chemicals.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

sensors -> mobile phone

Mobile phone network looks like the best communication option for sending/receiving data in a remote location. This page describes interfacing a microcontroller with a Nokia phone. A challenge, however, would be keeping a battery charged via solar panel. Power requirements for the microcontroller/sensors will be low (~5V) and may be able to run off of the same panel used by the phone; microcontrollers can usually withstand up to 12VDC. Heat of course would be an issue...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Kew camera captures climate change

See BBC story here about a timelapse camera at Kew Gardens, London, which captures images over the long term which help to show evidence of climate change. Such a device could be solar powered, but would require continuous access to the Internet, or intermittent access with an image cache.

Friday, April 20, 2007

GIS mapping of Kenya schools

The project involves recording the names of the schools, their locations (latitudes and longitudes), and their primary physical features. This information will be integrated with attribute data including school enrollment, number of teachers, and the school's educational resources, which will be collected in the field. When the location data is merged with attribute data and other demographic information, it will assist policy makers in obtaining answers to questions such as, Where are new schools needed now and in the future? Where are educational facilities limited or duplicated? Where are new teachers needed? Where is in-service training needed? Where is the nearest location where students can obtain elementary or secondary education? Where is significant population growth or decline expected?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Technology 4 Social Change

A few links that may be worth following:

NetSquared - "Remixing the web for social change - Our mission is to spur responsible adoption of social web tools by social benefit organizations. There's a whole new generation of online tools available – tools that make it easier than ever before to collaborate, share information and mobilize support." NetSquared are brining together funders, thinkers, tech experts and social change projects at their 2007 conference.

Fahamu - "Networks for social justice - Fahamu has a vision of the world where people organise to emancipate themselves from all forms of oppression, recognise their social responsibilities, respect each other’s differences, and realise their full potential." Publishers of Pambazuka - weekly forum for social justice in Africa.

Mobiles4Good - who we mentioned before. n independent Kenyan company called Mobile for Good Kenya. - "A project designed to use mobile phone technology to help alleviate poverty and improve the lives of people in the developing world. It delivers vital health, employment and community content via SMS on mobile phones in order to inform and empower disadvantaged individuals."

Monday, April 16, 2007

MIT project in Rural Thailand

I was trying to find out more about and MIT project in rural Thailand the David Cavallo referred to in his Keynote at CAL 07. I couldn't find much online but this extract from ICT and Community Building in Rural Areas of Thailand seems to refer to the project and contains some guidelines about developing rural telecentres and making them sustainable. Also see Cavallo's thesis and Project Lighthouse in Logo newsletter.

"Another notable project was initiated and run by a joint-effort between Thailand and MIT (the Suksa-Pattana Foundation and the Thaicom Foundation). The project is located at a village called Ban Sam Kha in Lampang Province, about 100 km. South of Chiangmai. The project aimed at empowering the people in the community through project-based learning experience or the constructionism approach. At Ban Sam Kha School, practical working programs were tried with students and their parents. A number of workshops took place at Ban Sam Kha to solve the biggest problems of the community: their debts. Once knowing what is going on, the behaviour of the villagers changed rapidly. It was discovered that the total debts of all families combined were more than 18 million baht. Through a simple classification scheme, the debts were grouped by their financial costs and their relationship to the productivities, an amazing new knowledge was learned together. The villagers changed their behaviors quickly in order to get rid of less-performing and high-interest loans. At this moment, the villagers are trained to keep records of their income and expense, with the simple accounting tool training given to school kids at school. Parents are encouraged to join the evening classes to learn about computers where the kids are their teacher! The school has about 15 computers to teach students.

Developing telecenters and make them sustainable turned out to be harder and slower than originally planned, but this is not entirely unexpected. Here are a few things which we learned:

• Get to know the community well before putting ICT into the location
• Always encourage them to understand the linkage between ICT and their daily business
• Let them plan on what and how to do things by themselves. We only ask them relevant questions, which would help making decision.
• Send young staff or student volunteers to learn from the community and document their work.
• Never over-invest in the hardware/equipment as this will affect the sustainability of the centers, but never under-invest in putting a lot of attention to the learning process and technology adoption of the community.
• The winning telecenters are those where the machines are used heavily, and the main users are children. One way of inducing the adults to be literate about PCs is to ask the children to help.
• Always keep records of the users and income for analysis.
• Seek outside help to create useful software, information and news which are relevant to the community. Government agencies and universities are the main producers of the relevant contents such as farm prices, weather forecast/warning, and other knowledge. By enhancing the information quality, communities can learn more about the values of their telecenters."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Travel Awardsto Support New International Links

The British Council awards support new links between 'early stage' researchers in the UK and other countries (Appropriate research areas include ICT and Climate Change).


Namibian Technology and Education initiative (advised by The Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative gesci). Identified as exemplar by Astrid Dufborg (director of gesci) at CAL 07.

Google joins the technology push into sub-Saharan Africa

Guardian article about Google's interests and moves into Sub Saharan Africa


...are one of Kenya's highest sources of foreign exchange. In July 2007 Kenya Flower Council launched a campaign in the UK called 'Grown under the sun' to inform UK customers that 'purchasing fresh Kenyan produce helps sustain livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farming communities in Kenya who depend on trade with Britain' More details here.

An older article here.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

World Bank approves Sh8 Billion for Internet in Kenya

The World Bank has earmarked and agreed on $165 million (Sh12 billion) in financing for Kenya, Burundi and Madagascar for high-speed Internet connections.

Kenya is the largest beneficiary, getting about Sh8 billion under the proposed Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme for East and Southern Africa.