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Visioning digital information hubs in remote villages

Speaking of television, children in King’ori Ward do not watch television as their villages are not connected to the national electricity grid.

Now there is hope for these children as World Vision Tanzania (WVT), a faith-based, humanitarian, relief and advocacy organisation has embarked on a new initiative to set up digital media and information centres in remote villages; even where there is no electricity.

Already one such establishment, known as the ‘Community Knowledge Centre (CKC)’ built at the cost of 1.5 billion/- was opened in King’ori and 17 villages stand to be benefit in accessing timely information on farming, crop pricing and market outlets as well as other agriculture-related services. Powerful standby generators will keep the centre running.

Young Sharifa and other children in King’ori area, will at last, get to see, touch and actually use computers and many children in the area can leap-frog straight into the computer world, by-passing television watching. Not strictly child’s play; Mr Emmanuel Peter Nanyaro for instance, is one of the farmers in King’ori who stand to benefit from the project.

“We are told that the centre will be a place where farmers like me will get timely information on agriculture, crop marketing and loans outlets, I look forward to that, but computer training? That can be left for young ones,” he said. Mr Nanyaro, a keen newspaper reader had no idea that once the 20 computers sets at the centre are clicked on, he will no longer have to wait for news from newspapers that are delivered two days late. He will be able to read some of the publications online, and better still free of charge.

Ms Tumaini Pokeaeli is among the first computer tutors recruited to train the residents, impacting a knowledge that will usher the remote villages into the digital world. “The centre has just opened, we are encouraging people to come and learn information technology,” said Ms Pokeaeli adding that she started out in the digital world almost in the same way, at a vocational training centre at Usa-River Township.

World Vision Tanzania hatched this new initiative that will enable farmers residing in remote villages connect globally through community information centres. The project, funded by Ms Karen Schick and Jurgen Hinderer of Germany through the King’ori Area development programme of World Vision Tanzania aims at providing free internet services, library facilities and secretarial amenities to villages located on the slopes of Mount Meru.

“Through Information Communication Technology (ICT) King’ori farmers will be able to use the centre as a meteorological hub from which they can receive regular weather updates through weather forecasting sites,” said Ms Schick. “We shall be happy if the centre will make a difference in improving production and livelihoods resilience through the power of instant information,” added Ms Schick.

The establishment of the centre is the brainchild of Mr Lou August who in addition to the centre, he has more ideas up his sleeve, regarding IT development in Meru District. The National Director of World Vision Tanzania, Mr Tim Andrews, said the organisation is dedicated to working with children, families and communities in helping the society to overcome poverty. It operates in 13 regions of Tanzania, clustered in six zones and runs 62 area development programmes.

“We work in 36 districts of Tanzania serving a population of 4.5 million people, including one million children,” said Mr Andrews adding that the Community Knowledge Centre is a new approach aimed at improving household income and well-being of children through enhanced access and effective utilisation of appropriate information technologies.

THE first day I came into close proximity ...


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