Project grants for local implementation of APC’s strategic plan in 2020

These grants are for projects that contribute to the implementation of APC’s strategic outcomes for 2020-2023 at the national level and are meant to strengthen ongoing work of APC members. In their proposals, members should demonstrate how their projects contribute to one or more of these strategic outcomes at the local level.

List of selected projects for 2020

Summaries of selected project grants (2020)
Jokkolabs Banjul (Formerly YMCA Computer Training Centre and Digital Studio) - Digital Skills and Digital Inclusion Advocacy Programs for Women Groups in Rural Gambia 

This project intends to address rural women groups involved in various women empowerment programs in health education and agriculture either as advocacy groups or running small medium enterprises in four rural regions of the Gambia namely: North Bank Region (NBR), Lower River Region (LRR), Central River Region (CRR) and Upper River Region (URR).

The main purpose of this project covers two components namely providing prerequisite digital skills needed in the 21st century that will empower 400 women directly in these four regions and carrying out digital inclusion advocacy programs that will target 800 women in these four regions. So far in the Gambia when digital skills and digital inclusion programs are mentioned, the rural regions of The Gambia are usually left out in such programs hence the big digital divide between urban and rural communities in The Gambia. Our project intends to address that digital divide by empowering women in rural communities in The Gambia; focusing on women who are the biggest contributors to the Gambian economy from the informal sector.

Senegal ICT Users Association (ASUTIC) - Promoting sustainable e-waste management in Senegal (PSEMS)

The State of Senegal has been committed since 2000 to improving access to new information and communication technologies in order to reduce the digital divide by promoting the import of second-hand equipment. The consequence of such a policy is the massive arrival of electrical and electronic devices, whose lifespan is very short, or even sometimes unusable, thus causing the appearance of a new type of waste in Senegal: electronic and electrical equipment waste (WEEE) or e-waste. 20 years later, Senegal is not yet prepared to manage e-waste sustainably. Indeed, we note the absence of a specific legal and regulatory framework, an informal nature of the processing activities, actors who are poorly informed and trained in the profession, non-compliance with international norms and standards for the sustainable management of e-waste with the consequence of dangerous and polluting practices making them a problem of public health and the environment in Senegal. In addition, there is the lack of public awareness about the e-waste situation that is preventing the country from developing circular economies for electronic equipment. In view of the above, the need for a sustainable management strategy for e-waste structured around a specific legal framework and communication campaigns in order to make citizens and stakeholders in the sector aware of the danger of this waste while informing them on their economic opportunities through sustainable management. Without proper measures in Senegal it is likely that informal activities will increase and continue. Therefore, civil society’s organizations need to take actions to tackle the challenge. In response to the challenge related to the sustainable management of e-waste in Senegal, the Association of ICT Users "ASUTIC" developed the project «Promoting sustainable e-waste management in Senegal» whose objective is to contribute to the development and implementation of a viable strategy that can effectively address the need for ecological management of e-waste. 

The project will be carried in 10 months from September 1, 2020 to June, 30 2021. The indirect beneficiaries are ICT users and the direct ones e-waste informal workers namely the electronic equipment repairers and the recyclers. The project will be carried out by leveraging internet opportunities to foster solutions-oriented dialogue, cooperation, and an inclusive approach by providing a global platform for knowledge sharing and public awareness. We will work with a broad range of national and international partners to develop effective strategies to implement the three (3) main activities: research, advocacy and capacity building, communication and awareness raising. Three outcomes are expected: 

  • Specific legal and regulatory framework creation for e-waste;

  • Foster ecological attitudes towards e-waste and encourage user participation in their sustainable management;

  • Creation of a national coalition of Civil Society Organizations against e-waste.

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) - Developing Rural Ecosystem Against Misinformation (DREAM) 

Over the past years India has seen some of the most adverse fallouts of online misinformation. Whether it is the form of offline violence, social panic, or targeted campaigns of harassment the problematics of misinformation in a complex and diverse society like India might be “more sophisticated and more challenging than they are in the West” . The years 2017 and 2018 saw an alarming rise in mob violence pan-India fueled by rumors circulated via social media and end-to-end messaging platforms driven by the high penetration of WhatsApp in the country. Fact-checking and media and information literacy (MIL) have emerged as potential strategies for countering misinformation. However, learnings from DEF’s implementation of MIL with local stakeholders have shown that sensitization and tools to counter misinformation are still yet to reach the community in a way that can make them resilient to misinformation. This requires a sustained approach that is rooted in the community practices and is able to respond to the recurring social dynamics that misinformation harnesses on to. Further, online fact-checking initiatives operate at the national level and are unable to respond to the hyper-local content cycle which is more directly linked to offline violence. 

In response to this, DEF plans to pilot 5 hyper-local fact-checking initiatives rooted in community radio stations. Community radios have a mandate to serve the information needs of the community and can be potential stakeholders in dealing with unintended consequences of an information dense ecosystem and increase penetration and adoption of mobile phones, internet, and social media platforms like WhatsApp. The social experience of COVID – 19 has shown how community radios have re-asserted their importance within the local information ecosystem by providing vital information to under-served communities on how to deal with COVID – 19 . The project aims to build the capacity of the 5 local community radio stations, to provide active fact-checking services to the community and provide sensitization and awareness services in dealing with misinformation fueled by prejudice. These 5 community radio stations will be Awaz Radio, Madhya Pradesh; Hamar Radio, Chhattisgarh; Radio Snehi, Bihar; Radio Vagad, Rajasthan; Ghazipur Radio, Uttar Pradesh. Further, the project will work to develop a call in number and chatbot for the community to report cases of misinformation that they are coming across which the radio can then respond to in a special program dedicated to countering misinformation content circulating in the community. DEF will work to build capacity of the community radios in fact-checking and media and information literacy, develop the call in number and chat-bot, monitor the implementation to take learnings for scaling up the work, and hold a community consultation with the 5 radio stations and other relevant stakeholders for knowledge-sharing and learning to consolidate the work for replication. The learning from this implementation aims to bring community-centric proof of concept to the conversation around Intermediary Guidelines and WhatsApp traceability case both of which aim to combat misinformation through State interventions without adequate judicial oversight and private delegation of censorship that can have significant impact on the state of fundamental freedoms and constitutional rights, particularly freedom of speech and expression. It also helps to highlight participatory processes of content regulation and governance that brings to the fore the citizen as a regulatory entity by de-centring models of self-regulation by businesses, co-regulation by businesses and the state, and command and control models. This helps highlight a proof of concept of how participatory processes can provide alternative and empowering solutions to key internet governance questions.

Point of View (POV) - Internet In My Hands (INMYHANDS)

There are many things uncertain about the world at present, but one thing is certain: today, digital access is a matter of survival. Lockdown has exacerbated inequalities of digital access in India where there is a 46% gender gap in Internet use. Without access to the mobile Internet, marginalized women in low-income communities are at threat of not having access to food, healthcare, state subsidies, education, critical information, employment, counseling, helplines and freedom from violence. 

The collaborative pilot project Internet In My Hands will empower and build the digital literacy, digital rights, and digital security knowledge and skills of women domestic workers in Kolkata, one of India’s biggest cities. The aim is to make these marginalized communities of informal workers more digitally resilient in the face of a continuing pandemic - and more future-proof than they currently are. The idea is to enable domestic workers to use digital devices (mobile phones) for information and organization, so that they have access to food security, healthcare, education and citizenship rights in a COVID-impacted world. The project will be carried out in partnership with Parichiti, a women’s organization working for the rights of women domestic workers and other marginalized women in low income urban slums and settlements of Kolkata and some villages in West Bengal. Parichiti works in 25 different locations spread across south and south east Kolkata, and with 20 Samadhan Dal or women domestic workers collectives. 

The digital gender gap in India further widens as one looks at specific communities and brings in the intersections of class, literacy etc. Women are 46% less likely than men to own a mobile phone, and are only 29% of the users online. When looking at domestic workers, this gap widens further as a lot of them tend to own feature phones, or very basic smartphones. Even if there is a smartphone in the house, the men and boys in the house have access to it. This is also partly because of the lack of familiarity and hence a fear that women have around smartphones. This project will identify their technology and mobile phone needs and concerns, and then train them to build their knowledge and capacity on the same. We will begin with monthly trainings, hand-holding and mentoring of a few leaders from the Samadhan Dals, who will then work with the members of their collectives. This way, the leaders will become community trainers in their own standing and will be able to address any usage or digital security concerns that others in their community may have with their mobile phone. This is how this pilot project aims to make this community digitally resilient. This is an experimental first-of-its-kind pilot that aims to use relevant mobile phone technologies, including messenger apps, to create digital networks among marginalized women workers, who will be transformed step-by-step, month-by-month into grassroots digital trainers – starting from where they are and understanding their hyper-local needs and realities. If this succeeds, we will use the same model with diverse grassroots communities.

Unwanted Witness Uganda (UW) - Defending Human Rights by Challenging Data Intensive Systems of Power In Uganda (DHRDIS)

The twenty first century brought with it rapid development in the technological capacities of governments and corporate entities to intercept, extract, filter, store, analyze and disseminate the communications of whole populations. These technological advancements pose a direct threat to the safeguards protecting the right to privacy. The right to privacy is a fundamental right enshrined in many constitutions around the world, as well as in international human rights law. In Uganda, Article 27 of the 1995 Uganda Constitution confers the right to privacy for all citizens. In order to operationalize this constitutional provision, Uganda government adopted the Data Protection and Privacy Act early last year following concerted policy advocacy by Unwanted Witness Uganda and other actors of change. 

However, despite having a law in place for close to two years now, there is still lack of institutional framework, processes and infrastructure to support the protection of data and privacy rights in Uganda. Besides the increasing volume and use of personal data, together with the emergence of technologies enabling new ways of processing and using data, means that regulate an effective data protection framework is more important than ever. The absence of the institutional framework continues to provide a fertile ground for arbitrary and unlawful infringements of the right to privacy and human rights broadly. The current global health pandemic caused by the corona virus has further revealed unprecedented use of surveillance tools by government, negating international human rights law. Protecting privacy in the digital age is essential to effective and good democratic governance. 

Therefore based on the dire need for an effective data protection enforcement mechanism to safeguard human rights and democracy in Uganda, Unwanted Witness seeks to develop an evidential foundation on how data-intensive systems operate and their effect on human rights and democracy more generally. That body of evidence will help us develop key standards that will guide our collective strategic advocacy and communications. Jointly and independently we will generate debates and make the case for the data protection legal enforcement with key communities particularly in the legal sector, academia, private sector, policy makers, National Human Rights Institution and across civil society. The project will also check the powers of national private companies especially telecoms, involved in the collection and storage of citizens’ personal data. The companies will be encouraged to adopt periodic privacy reports as a means of fostering transparency and accountability as their core responsibility in respect to human rights.

Rhizomatica - Shortwave radio for digital communications in rural and indigenous communities (HERMES)

HERMES is a software system created by Rhizomatica to enable digital information sharing over shortwave radio and is an ideal technology for very remote, unconnected populations. This project is about making improvements to our HERMES (High-frequency Emergency and Rural Multimedia Exchange System) shortwave digital communication system to increase energy efficiency, performance (throughput, capacity), ease of use, portability, privacy and robustness to support unconnected rural and indigenous communities in the Amazon and northern Mexico.

SPACE Kerala (SPACE) - Open Data and Collective Action for Disaster Preparedness (ODCADP)

The biggest challenge facing humanity today is climate change, manifested as floods, droughts, heavy rainfall and high temperatures. We have moved way too far from the delicate balance of nature to quickly reverse its impacts. Improving our preparedness and reducing damage is our immediate priority. At the same time, increased awareness of the root causes of challenges we face will help us amend our ways and correct the damage in the long term. Kerala has started looking at what technology can do to mitigate the effects of climate change. Collecting geo-spatial data is recognized as necessary as it will enable the state to better prepare itself. Developing this dataset is costly and time-consuming. However, open data initiatives like OpenStreetMap offer us new ways to develop these data resources. Developing data through massive collaboration and crowdsourcing requires formal and informal partnership between the state and civil society. Tool chains for data generation and quality control along with capability to use those technologies will have to be developed. Thankfully, a lot of tools are available as free software; minor adaptation and capability development should enable the state to overcome those challenges. 

In this project, SPACE aims to work with other civil society organizations, local and regional governments to build a model for disaster preparedness in one or two local bodies in Kerala leveraging community-based open data repositories. The initiative shall start with developing detailed geospatial information of the area using OpenStreetMap platform and allied tool sets. The data generated will be analysed using free software GIS tool chains. Locally useful solutions such as flood modeling and alert mechanisms shall also be created. More than the data and solutions, the project will focus on engaging the community (the youth and students in particular), shaping the discourse on climate change and sensitising people on how human activities are aggravating the damage. Developing a replicable set of methodologies and resource materials is one of the objectives of this project. Replication within Kerala and India will be emphasised upon. The project will partner with a global community of technology developers to build capability in environmental and geo-spatial data generation and processing. Ranni, a village affected by the 2018 floods, has been identified as a potential site for the project.

Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE) - Strengthening environmental sustainability through safer e-waste management technologies (SESSTEMT)

The use of digital technologies has touched almost every aspect of modern life reaching around 50 percent of the developing world’s population in only two decades (UN nd). While the technologies have been developing for many years, however, they have shown unprecedented growth with its enhanced application in a wide range of social and economic activities like delivering trade and public services, harnessing financial inclusion and e-commerce, supporting marginalized groups and communities with free flow of information, etc. The wide-ranging use of digital technologies has essentially been triggered with the innovation of digital devices like mobiles, laptops, tablets, computers, etc., most of which used in developing countries are not quality products. The quality standard is often compromised to keep the price low for mass use. In most cases, the unregulated bi-lateral trade with the technologically advanced countries makes the domestic market of the poor countries over-saturated with the supply of cheap devices with a relatively shorter life-span that promotes ‘one-time-use’ culture leaving basically no option of re-reusing the devices and foreclosing the potentials of the circular economy. Though digital technologies have created the scope of an inclusive digital economy as well as achieving the flagship ambition of the SDGs, yet there are many challenges. The major challenge is the management of e-waste that is piling-up day by day. They contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, copper, cadmium, beryllium, barium, etc, that cause severe risk related to health and damage to the environment. They also contribute to climate change by releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) during combustion and recycling of e-waste. This has become a particular problem in Bangladesh. 

The government of Bangladesh literally opened-up imports of cheap digital devices to complement its political vision of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ to be achieved by 2021. The vision was set to make Bangladesh technologically advanced through the effective use of digital devices in its key development sectors like education, health, communication, etc. Inspired by that Vision, the private and public agencies have promoted mass utilization of digital devices, which also has increased the volume of e-waste roughly from 2.81 million tons in 2009 to around 12 million tons e-waste in 2019 ( Most of the e-wastes are collected informally from the sources, some reusable metals are taken out and the rest are dumped in to open landfills, farming land, and in the open water bodies. And unstructured, unskilled, and informal practices of e-waste recycling leave more than 30 million children, women, and non-formal workers exposed to hazardous substances like lead, mercury, cadmium, dioxin, etc. Unfortunately, the environmental consequence as well as the emission factors of millions of tons of e-waste is largely unknown. Bangladesh is yet to introduce a specific policy guideline on e-waste management. A draft regulation has been prepared and amended in 2017 but yet to enforce. 

Therefore, this is important to advocate for the policy framework through research, raising awareness, and building capacity through a multi-stakeholder approach.

Zenzeleni networks Not for Profit Company (NPC) - Collaboration to enhance the impact and sustainability of Community networks and the ICT Solar Learning Labs (SolarCNLab)

This joint member project seeks to support the deployment of a Computer Aid International (CAI) ( Solar Learning Lab (SLL) in rural South Africa, integrating it into the Zenzeleni Mankosi community network ( creating a safe space for community members to access devices, training and support to utilise ICTs and the internet. The SLL is a global initiative ( giving access to technology in marginalized and remote communities by reusing and converting shipping containers into solar powered computer classrooms. 

As Zenzeleni we recognise that while affordable, reliable connectivity is essential, the network cannot reach its full potential when people do not have access and skills to use ICT devices. This initiative is therefore an essential step towards making the network accessible and valuable to the whole community. We also see this as a valuable step to increase the sustainability of the network, as the SLL can offer new (affordable) services to the community and thus expand the local Zenzeleni cooperative business. Furthermore, we see the lab space as a valuable tool for local students and entrepreneurs to expand their capabilities and to develop the local economy within the community. Lastly, Zenzeleni is committed to increase its environmental sustainability, and as such this solar powered lab will also be an example, and space, where general awareness building about critical environmental (and social issues) can be addressed.  

For CAI, one of the biggest challenges when deploying SLL in underserviced areas is the cost and/or reliability of the network to provide the labs with connectivity. Another challenge for SLL deployment is that of ongoing sustainability after the initial support offered by CAI and Dell. The integration of the lab into a functioning business, with a complementary service and objective, therefore presents a solution to two of their major challenges.  

The experience and learning from this project are expected to be valuable for both Zenzeleni and CAI in their future work. The lessons may also be very valuable for other APC members; Community Networks, members working with ICTs and others. With this in mind one of the main outcomes of this project is a documented learning process evaluating how a combinations of a CN and a SLL can support each other to increase their positive impact and their sustainability. 

As shown by the activities and budget this proposal request support primarily to support the Zenzeleni team and community to participate in their first lab deployment and operations. This will comprise the design of an operations plan and training plan. It will also include the management, monitoring and evaluation of the lab initiative on two levels, that of impact and effectiveness of offering certified courses, and that of financial and operations sustainability of the lab within the Zenzeleni business. While the SLL capex is provided by CAI and Dell, without additional funding the Zenzeleni team would be severely strained, and we hope that this project will create the necessary foundation and start-up for the lab to operate sustainably. Both members also contribute time and other costs where possible to co-fund our request.

Asociación Colnodo (Colnodo) - Strengthening strategies of the Sustainable Development Network – RDS - to raise awareness among the population in concrete actions for sustainable development focused on ICTs (RDS)

This project seeks to inform the community on how to use ICT responsibly from the perspective of the final consumer, not only talking about energy savings, but also about the costs of emitting carbon from the devices we buy and use. The aim is to provide better information to train smarter consumers, influence their behavior when using technology, encourage them to take this type of discussion to the local level in the communities, to learn to identify if an electronic product is really green: Educate the community. In parallel, the project proposes the implementation of a real action to reduce the energy consumption of the Colnodo data center reducing its electricity consumption from 1,100 to 720 KW per month, that is, a 65% reduction in electricity consumption. Likewise, strengthen the “Donate a Tree” campaign that seeks to restore a tropical dry forest in the municipality of Agrado in the Department of Huila -

Nodo TAU - Right to (re)use (rt(r)u)

The reuse of electronic equipment is an increasingly valued activity, which brings numerous benefits to the environment and people. The extension of the life cycle of equipment reduces the generation of electronic waste and avoids the polluting extraction of materials from nature, promoting healthy cities and environments. At the same time, thanks to the low cost of reused equipment, people and institutions manage to obtain second-hand devices, which allow them to use technology, access to connectivity, knowledge and decent work. 

With this project, Nodo Tau intends to enhance all its activities that are linked to the reuse of computer equipment, promoting with them the strengthening of the following rights: 

  • The right to access to internet and to ICTs

  • Access to information and knowledge

  • The right to enjoy healthy environments

On the one hand, Nodo TAU will work to improve the technology and procedures used in its Computer e-Waste Management Plant, in order to increase the annual rate of reused equipment, by using free software, certifying the traceability of devices and training the personnel from the plant, mainly composed of young people from vulnerable sectors who join the world of work by this, their first job. On the other hand, we will implement an innovative system of provision of equipment to people and social organizations, promoting digital inclusion as well as the culture of reuse, the circularity of materials and care of the environment. For the organizations that benefit from this system, we will develop training instances so that, together with the equipment, they could implement a strategic use of them, strengthening the actions developed in the territories, especially those carried out by women. In parallel, we will work with local schools and the provincial Ministry of Education, in the refurbishment of netbooks delivered in public schools by “Conectar Igualdad”, a programme for low-income students until 2015. These proposals will be completed with other dissemination activities, such as webinars and publications, to achieve greater knowledge, awareness and commitment of the entire community regarding the "right to repair" and reuse of equipment. The acronym we built illustrate these ideas. The right to use is enhanced –therefore the use of parentheses– by reuse.

Technologies should be conceived for re-use, adapting them to our own uses, using free software and working with our own networks. We use lowercase, because the use, reuse and appropriation of technologies should be present everyday, and not something that should be highlighted in capital letters.

Intervozes - Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social / Intervozes - Brazilian Collective of Social Communication - Free internet Project, Safe Communities: Mapping the Internet, Information and Communication Technologies and Socio-Environmental Justice in Quilombola and Rural Territories in Northeast Brazil

To face the challenges of the struggle for territory, for socio-environmental justice and the promotion of a free Internet, this project aims to produce a collective mapping of access, uses and conceptions on the Internet and ICTs by quilombola and rural communities in northeastern Brazil , starting from the preliminary mapping done by Intervozes and by the National Coordination of Articulation of Quilombola Communities (Conaq) in May 2020. Quilombolas are the inhabitants of the old quilombos, territories originally inhabited by black men and women who managed to escape from slavery and hide in sparsely populated regions, like northeastern semiarid region (known as Sertão) and lived also many times with the help or under the protection of indigenous communities.

The mapping will be based on a process of formation and exchange between the agendas of struggle in defense of the territories and for a free Internet. It is, therefore, the first stage of a process of articulation and formation that points to the construction of counter narratives and epistemological dispute over Internet and ICT - from a feminist, anti-racist and committed to socio-environmental justice. It also points to the production of inputs for advocacy with power centers for public policies on access and use of the Internet and ICTs, in addition to strengthening and building autonomous appropriations of these technologies in dialogue with ancestral technologies and traditional ways of life. 

In this context, women, who historically have the role of producing and reproducing life, and also for this reason, have a leading role in resisting and building autonomous alternatives to the proposed development model, will have a central role in the systematization of knowledge in this project.

7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media - Palestinian Digital Rights at the United Nations

This project is based on protecting Palestinian digital rights and ensuring that if Palestinians have the capacity to advocate at the united nations, and increase accessibility of decision makers to their human rights statements with the support of international allies, they will be able to better ensure sustainable protection of Palestinian digital rights and ensure local and international governments’ and social media companies’ policies and practices are aligned with Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.

The project spans one year and builds on 7amleh’s 2019 project with APC, which focused on introducing 7amleh to the United Nations Human rights Council. As we have tried to show in this proposal, we have learned tremendously from last years’ experience and have started to work to develop a positive, sustainable environment for 7amleh’s engagement in the future. Additionally, we are developing a more methodological and strategic approach to our international advocacy at the United Nations with this project, that we think will lead to increased achievement on our objectives and contribution to people facing discrimination having greater power and autonomy to exercise their human rights online and offline.

Foundation for Media Alternatives - WeAponization of Surveillance amid a Pandemic (WASP)

WASP is a two-phased project that zeroes in on the different privacy-intrusive measures of the Philippine government during this current COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase involves the drafting of a comprehensive report that documents and analyses the various government initiatives introduced during this public health crisis, particularly those that significantly impact privacy and data protection. The second phase shall consist of a public campaign to disseminate the results of the report, while promoting individual privacy rights, as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and the country’s data protection law. The campaign also aims to empower Filipinos by guiding them how to properly exercise their rights, specifically through the submission of data access requests to key government agencies acting as primary custodians of their personal data. 

The research component will consist of a thorough, rights-based assessment of several government initiatives, including contact-tracing applications, databases, and even new policies, either as a direct response to the COVID-19 crisis, or as a complementary measure meant to address one or more related concerns. It will highlight the privacy implications of these initiatives and propose policy recommendations that will allow the government to implement its programs in a manner consistent with Constitutional and data protection standards. 

The public campaign component will disseminate the results of the study using a targeted communications and advocacy plan. It will also involve the production and distribution of informative and instructional materials on how individuals, as data subjects, can exercise their rights under the country’s Data Privacy Act. Instructional guides and templates for submitting data access requests to government entities acting as personal data controllers will be made available. 

By the end of the project, civil society partners and individual data subjects are expected to be more knowledgeable about the human rights ramifications of new technologies and projects introduced by the Philippine government, and empowered to hold both government and private actors (i.e., third-party contractors collaborating in government projects) to account for possible human rights or data protection violations. The project also seeks to effect substantial policy changes by proposing rights-respecting alternatives to state actors operating as personal information controllers.

Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) - Advocacy for Access (ADAC)

The COVID crisis has brought to light one of the most fundamental issues with the Internet in Pakistan - the lack of infrastructure and access to ICTs. Over the last four months, the lack of Internet access has disenfranchised people from marginalised communities, those living outside urban centers, and those living in areas where Internet shutdowns are more frequent. Majority of Pakistan’s population (nearly 65%) in non-urban and rural areas, making access to the internet the problem of the majority of the country's population. In some regions, the Internet is simply not available, while in others, the speed is controlled (for example shifting to 2G from 3G & 4G to limit the flow of information). As a pattern, we see that mostly the population of the conflict-ridden and vulnerable areas (i.e. areas with a history of religious, political, and gender-based violence, and militarisation) remain deprived of quality Internet Access. During the last four months, as all educational institutes have shifted to online and remote learning models, we have witnessed multiple protests across the country by students who are disconnected and are unable to access online classes and learning modules. Other student bodies have taken to the Internet to protest for their disconnected peers, and hashtags like #SayNoToOnlineClasses. In addition to highlighting the lack of access, the situation has also highlighted a gaping flaw in civil society interventions for the Internet. There are only four civil society organisations focused on Internet and digital rights in Pakistan, and none of them (including MMfD), have initiated any sustained intervention specifically on the area of Access. 

In 2019, MMfD led an initiative Human Kaisa Internet Chahiye -- what kind of Internet do I want and access to cheap -- safe & fast Internet came out to be the biggest demand in a Public Charter for Digital Democracy, created after a series of national consultations. The proposed project has a simple objective - initiation of a discourse on the issue of access & initiation of collective efforts to work towards policy objectives. 

The project starts at a very basic level, as there has 

  1. Development of knowledge around challenges to access & its impact - exploratory research would be conducted to map infrastructural and other challenges hindering access and impact of resulting digital divide.

  2. Reviewing current policies & recommending policy changes for enabling universal access - A policy paper would be written to review digital policies & procedures aimed at universal access and identification of gaps within these policies.

  3. Creating journalistic features on impact of inaccessibility of the Internet to initiate public discourse - A series of journalistic features would be commissioned for Digital Rights Monitor, MMfD’s news website, to explore the issue of the digital divide.

  4. Engaging with civil society, the private sector for policy advocacy - A collective of civil society and private sector stakeholders would be created to take the agenda for universal access forward.

  5. Public campaigning to raise awareness about inaccessibility - To generate public discourse on access and digital divide, MMfD would be creating a series of multimedia products including a documentary and other creative content highlighting the impact on digital divide on different segments of the society.

Cooperativa Sulá Batsú - No digital transformation without environmental responsibility: advocacy campaign to integrate environment sustainability in the National Telecommunication Policy (2022-2027) in Costa Rica (ENVRES)

The year 2022 should start with a new Costa Rica National Telecommunications Plan (PNDT 2022-2027). The country guidelines require that the policies and plans be built from participatory multi-stakeholder processes that are convened one year in advance. For the PNDT, the call for participatory construction begins in November 2020. This is an extraordinary opportunity for civil society to incorporate its interests and concerns into the strategies, budgets and action plans related to telecommunications for the next five-year period. There is a strong tendency to look at digital transformation as one of the most relevant options to face the consequences of the crisis generated by the pandemic worldwide. As many times, technology appears again in the speeches as the magic solution, where the digital transformation of small and medium-sized companies is the option for the economic reactivation of the most vulnerable, the transformation of public services for the efficiency of the State, that of schools to satisfy access to education or telemedicine as the option for access to health. These will undoubtedly be strategies that will be strongly integrated into the PNDT 2022-2027 in Costa Rica. 

The digital transformation will not only increase the consumption of devices and therefore the electronic waste that is not known how to handle in the country, but will also imply an increase in the contribution of the digital sector to the carbon footprint of energy consumption, the increase in the digital industry that is already very important in the country and that is located in free zones with special privileges, as well as the increase in the purchase of supplies without guarantee that they have been produced with clean work. Also, the precariousness of work will be stimulated with the digital transformation if business models based on the hegemonic platforming of the economy are used. 

Our cooperative would like to lead an advocacy process in the construction of the new telecommunications development plan for Costa Rica 2022-2027 in such a way that the environmental responsibility of the digital sector is included as one of the strategies for this new five-year period. To do this, it would seek to: 

  • Develop a campaign and training process on the subject aimed at multiple actors

  • Actively participate in the construction of the new public policy by carrying the flag of this issue in such a way that it is defined as one of the strategies of the next five-year period

  • Generate alliances for joint work in civil society between actors in the digital, environmental, and women's sectors.

  • Generate female leadership that promotes, guarantees, investigates, and acts so that there is environmental responsibility in the digital sector. 

Rudi International – Haki Conference: The Conference on Human Rights in the Digital Age in the DRC

This project will be implemented around a conference discussing human rights in the digital age in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the countries in Africa where many human rights violations occur. Participants will have the opportunity to understand the concept of human rights and the way they are affected by the evolution of the internet. For two days, topics such as internet freedom, access to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, protection of women and children against online violations, and other human rights aspects will be discussed. The Haki Conference will bring together, for the third year in a row, various stakeholders from the main cities of the country as well as participants from outside the DRC to share best practices on how we can unite together and ensure human rights defenders (as well as activists) are protected online and offline. Having participants come from outside will help better inform the discussions, bringing new perspectives into the debate. This third edition of the Haki Conference will be built on the success of the two previous editions that took place successively in November 2018 and 2019 in the city of Goma, where Rudi International is based, and were also supported through APC member subgrants.

Fantsuam Foundation - Reactivating critical communication infrastructure and rural ICT services at Fantsuam

For five years now, Fantsuam, a non-profit organisation that is working with unconnected and remote rural communities, has been unsuccessful in its efforts to gain access to cable on the grounds of corporate social responsibility. Fantsuam has now engaged the services of a consultant to develop a proposal for access to the MTN backbone. This access will provide the much needed relief for Fantsuam to reconnect with its students, continue its work with the proposed rural community networks, and continue its support for its host rural communities. This proposal includes a one-year subscription to C-band; this period will be long enough for Fantsuam to activate its resilience strategy for sustainable funding at the expiration of the grant. The primary aim of the subgrant funding is to enable Fantsuam's access to the backbone so that it can resume its critical services in education and healthcare.

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