Hope remains forever... Tunis vignettes

Tunis, Tunisia

Have just gotten out of the Global Knowledge Partnership or GKP’s partnership building workshop at the El-Hana Hotel in Tunis City Centre. It indeed was a pleasant experience. Frankly, had no clue earlier that how GKP works and what kind of partnerships they have all around the world …
Have just gotten out of the Global Knowledge Partnership or GKP’s partnership building workshop at the El-Hana Hotel in Tunis City Centre. It indeed was a pleasant experience.

Frankly had no clue earlier that how GKP works and what kind of partnerships they have all around the world … but then gradually with the passage of about four hours and lunch meetings with different people, now I have fair bit of idea about the network and am particularly impressed with the diversity of organizations and networks involved with GKP.

I was representing APC and Bytesforall at this event. It indeed is a global multi-stakeholder network.

Check here for more about the Global Knowledge Partnership or GKP’s Tunis-based GKP Pavillion, or undertake a virtual visit to the GKP Forum. Meanwhile, here’s a link to the GKP evening (Nov 15), and other to the World Electronic Media Forum. Click here for the GKP publications, the GKP awards and GKD@Building Partnerships.

Today’s workshop was meant for members to get together and find out avenues to build partnerships to strengthen the on-going initiatives and get involved in collaborative projects. I found the process to be amazingly participatory and run by the members… of course there was “facilitation” as well.

Just to give you a feel of this workshop, members had to identify the topics, which they wanted to discuss in breakout groups. Everybody was allowed to post their choice of topics.

After rigorous discussions and amalgamating various choices with the consent of members, the few important topics emerged were:

* Upscaling innovative pilot projects

* Financial sustainability

* Content for development

* Microfinance projects and ICT4D

* Media and peace building

* Knowledge and resource mobilization in GIS, Education and Media

* Collaborations for action research to save resources

* Young ICT entrepreneurs for social change

* Wireless education networks for schools

* Technical sustainability, etc.

Due to my personal interest, I participated in the breakout group “content for development” discussing challenges, opportunities and solutions to the problems in generating, disseminating and using content for development.

Though the debate will continue the rest of the week the consensus emerging encircled the fact that it is necessary to build the capacity of ICT practitioners to help them document their stories, provide translation support for wider audience, provision of automatic translation tools involving computational linguistic techniques, efficient distribution via digital means, and especially acquiring more space in mainstream media for development stories.

Also discussed was the need to harness the potential of public-private partnerships to sustain such initiatives. I will post the details of a wiki later where all these discussions will be posted for dissemination.

Have been very depressed on Monday due to this unfortunate incident happened at the Goethe Institute in the morning. Beating up journalists and refusing civil society to hold a parallel event in Tunis… frankly I just can’t imagine that Tunisian authorities could choose to do this. It will only harm their credibility.

Our colleague from APC Jac from Malaysia was saying on Monday evening that if someone has to paint Tunis, they would need only two colors, white and blue. Yes, Tunis is a beautiful, scenic city with lots of blue waterscape. Don’t know why, but most of the houses and buildings in Tunis are painted with white walls and blue windows and doors.

Well, I would love to come back and enjoy this city when there is no UN summit happening here. The Tunis we are seeing currently is not the original really. One thing I really dislike is security in various layers, not only at the venue but the surroundings, and barricades everywhere with countless policemen.

The route I travel via shuttle every morning and evening leads through residential area and I feel sick looking at houses enroute, guarded by policemen… must be making the life of inhabitants miserable…

I would say that nearby residential area around the venue is all hostage to security these days… There’s all thisl sick “VIP crap” to stop the traffic and normal routine life of Tunisians because “WSIS delegates” are passing by.

Luckily found this English-speaking girl at the restaurant, who was very kind to talk to us. Frankly, it is difficult to find English speaking people and, above all, someone willing to talk to WSIS delegates.

Any ways, she studied English and doing a degree from a local university. She also shared the view that the WSIS has badly affected their normal routine life.

Their university will also be closed for three days of the summit. I had thought that the aggressive media campaign of Tunisian authorities around WSIS would have resulted in some better understanding of the process for Tunisians, but still this girl sounded indifferent… and wore a who-could-care attitude.

Am particularly concerned about the local human rights groups, as to what will happen with them when all the international civil society and international media packs their bags after the summit.

But, hope remains forever…

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