MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, 18 December 2005
Projects from Brazil and Chile that seek to include the disadvantaged in the realm of benefits brought about by information and communication technologies (ICTs) have emerged as joint winners of the APC Betinho Communications Prize 2005. APC termed these "two remarkable projects… that are improving the lives of people and communities in Latin America and deriving real economic benefits," in an announcement made from Montevideo, Uruguay.
Joint-winner "Radio-telecentre: technology for social inclusion" has its activities mainly from the disempowered Brazilian northeast, a region home to 15% of the entire poor of Latin America, with a total of 20.4 million people living in poverty. Its objective is capacity building for income generation, encouraging local entrepreneurs.
This project’s long-term goal is to train people in these areas in computer maintenance techniques, offering training on income generation, and to get the equipment maintained in return.
From Chile, the other joint-winner is the Redes Programme – Community Telecentres. The Redes Programme gives empoverished communities access to the benefits derived from the use of information technologies.
This programme was conceived as part of the "Generating Networks to Overcome Poverty" project, implemented since 1997 by the National Foundation to Overcome Poverty and financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The programme created 25 networks, among children, women, people with disabilities, and traditional fisherpeople
For the Brazilian joint-winner, the project came about in an interesting manner. After ten years of promoting women’s rights through radio, the scenario created by new-generation ICTs "presented a big challenge: either women become part of this process, or they will once again be excluded from equal participation in society", explain the project promoters.
In 2002, the Fala Mulher (Women Speak) Programme, attained the status of an internet radio station, broadcasting content with a focus on gender and human rights.
Technology used was previously developed for community radio, and counts on the involvement of a women communicator, and local female leadership.
In Colombia, the other joint-winner
the Community Telecentres of the Redes Programme are based on a participatory community methodology.
Organisations and networks "breathe life into these telecentres day-to-day independently" – from locating and fitting out a place where a telecentre will operate, the preparation of the headquarters, the reception area and the equipment, making it functional, and opening and its daily operations, say the project promoters.
Two other projects received honourable mentions – MetaReciclagem, Brazil; and Cultural audiovisual production and promotion, Colombia.
Four more projects which ended up among the finalists were GTP Chaski Programme of Bolivia; Digital Synergy Project in Brazil; Sensitive and Accesible Colombia ; and the Challhuahuacho Rural Telecentre in Peru.
Stories from the eight finalists and the winners have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese and English so that more people can find out about these outstanding ICT initiatives.
The Betinho Prize in 2005 was open to civil society organisations, community-based groups, networks, and social movements anywhere in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Betinho Prize 2005 is supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA) based at IDRC.
The Association for Progressive Communications is an international network of civil society organisations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals through the strategic use of information and communication technologies, especially internet-technologies.