By Débora PradoPublished on
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Have you ever stopped to wonder how no access to the internet affects one's work, studies, access to information and communication with friends and family? And how this can reflect and, at the same time, reinforce inequalities?
We are delighted to launch our new Routing for Communities podcast. With 12 episodes, this podcast will be a journey of listening to the life stories of those connecting themselves while defending the fundamental rights and well-being of their communities in remote, rural and urban areas across the globe.
Around 2.9 billion people – 37% of the world's population – have never used the internet, according to the publication “Measuring digital development: Facts and figures 2021”. The figures also show that the situation can be worse depending on the country and if we look at differences in gender, age, income or between urban and rural areas, for example. And it is to overcome such digital divides that community networks have been established out there.
During our season together, we will learn about community-led experiences of people who have come up with alternatives to overcome the challenges of digital inclusion in different places, such as South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Kenya, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, India and Colombia. We will get inspired by stories and voices that are intertwined, connected by a common thread: building internet and communication community networks. And we will learn more about the local realities and needs, and understand why a bottom-up approach is key to promoting connectivity to co-create a free, safe and worthwhile digital future, leaving no one behind.
Listen to the fist season:
In our first episode, we discover an inspiring experience from South Africa: the Mamaila Community Network, which is connecting a rural area that had been ignored by major service providers, while building digital skills. And we learn more about community networks with Kgopotso Magoro from South Africa and Claire Milne from the UK. Play.
The second episode takes us on a trip to Kenya to visit TunapandaNET, an initiative that combines digital networks with community-led action to enable communication, education and health in Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa. We will find out more about this initiative and the community networks movement through the voices of Risper Akinyi Arose, a young resident from Kibera who participates in many projects involving digital inclusion and communication, and Peter Bloom from Rhizomatica, which works to promote community networks and technical autonomy and training. Play.
This month we invite you to come with us on a journey to meet Wiki Katat, the first Indigenous virtual operator providing internet and mobile phone services in Mexico. In our third episode, you will get to know Flor Lino, who is part of Wiki Katat and also of an Indigenous community radio station in the country. You will also meet Lilian Chamorro, who works in many organisations related to the field of community networks in Latin America. Play.
In the fourth episode you will get to know the Amadiba Community Network, a project that has been strengthening the community in the defence of their land, the coast of their country and their people. Guiding us on this journey is Lungelo Mtwa, from Pondoland, a region on the coast of South Africa bathed by the Indian Ocean. Today, the region is one of the last vestiges of the country's untouched coastline, known as the Wild Coast. But Amadiba is known not only for its natural beauty and the preservation of its traditions, but also as a community that is threatened by a titanium mining project. In this episode we also interviewed Mike Jensen, an internet pioneer working at the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Play.
In this episode, you will travel to a rural area in Córdoba, Argentina. There we will get to know the Quintana Libre community network. With a strong community networks movement, in the last years, Argentina started to develop state programmes in support of community-led models for connectivity. For this story, we talked to Jessica Giudice, a Quintana Libre member and AlterMundi co-founder. We also talked to Natalia Vinelli, who is also in Argentina and deputy director of Special Projects at ENACOM – the country’s regulation authority for communication media and telecommunications. Play.
Let's go to Indonesia together to meet the Common Room Networks Foundation and its co-founder Gustaff Iskandar. This is an organisation that works with art, culture, communication and new technologies. They helped build the community network in Ciptagelar Traditional Village, in West Java. This inspiring initiative presents alternatives for community-led connectivity in a country where around 12,000 villages are still disconnected. In this episode, we also spoke with Carlos Rey-Moreno, from the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Play.
In this episode, we share a story from São Paulo, the largest city by population in Brazil. We talked to Daiane Araújo and learned more about her experience at “Casa dos Meninos”. She works on community networks projects and reflects on their intersection with gender, race and class. We also travel to a small Brazilian town called Monteiro Lobato, where Luísa Bagope lives. She is one of the creators of the project “Nodes that Bond”, which focuses on gender and feminist issues. Play.
In our eighth episode, we travel to the African continent once again! In Nigeria, we meet Harira Wakili and CITAD to learn more about their work on community networks and gender issues. We also hear from Josephine Miliza about the importance of women in building enabling policy and regulation for community networks. Play.
In our ninth episode, we’ll get to know an initiative that has already connected over 7,000 homes in England’s northwestern rural areas to the internet: the Broadband for the Rural North project, more commonly known as B4RN. To tell us this story, we interviewed Chris Conder, one of B4RN’s founders. We will also get to know Steve Song, an expert in the realm of community networks. We talked to him about the challenges faced by community networks in terms of sustainability. Play.
For this season’s 10th episode, we will get to know more about an experience in the countryside of Colombia, in an Indigenous community, where the Jxa'h Wejxia Casil Community Network is operating. To tell you more about this story, we talked to Edinson Camayo. He is a member of the Nasa Indigenous Nation and the project’s coordinator. We will also travel with us to Mexico, where our team interviewed Adriana Labardini Inzunza. For many years, she has analysed the role that regulators and policy makers have in increasing people’s well-being through access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) to promote human rights. Play.
The story we will hear in the 11th episode of our season takes place in Thailand. We are going to learn about Professor Kanchaná Kanchanásut’s pioneering venture, which took the internet to this Southeast Asian country. Nowadays, she is in charge of TakNet, Thailand’s first community network, which connects around 500 homes in 30 communities to broadband. Still in Asia, this time in the Philippines, we talked to John Garrity, a Filipino-American who works as policy advisor and chief of party for the USAID – Better Access and Connectivity project in this country. Play.
We’ve reached the last episode of our season together. And the story in it will inspire you, while showing how community networks are essential and possible when different people get involved. For that, we’ll travel to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to meet James Nguo from the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). This initiative shows how education, environmental justice and connectivity can be linked. You will also get to know Kathleen Diga, who works for the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and is the co-lead for the Local Networks initiative. Play.