Leveraging information and communications technologies

Rural communities in Peru look toward technology and competition as a catalyst for rural development
What happens when you combine information and communication technology with grassroots development initiatives and good old fashioned free-market competition? For poor rural people in Peru, this winning combination is changing lives, one virtual network (and one computer) at a time.

The story goes back to 2007, when the Andean Regional Studies Centre Bartolome de Las Casas (CBC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) began carrying out a project to facilitate access to information and communication technologies in the rural areas of Cusco and Puno, Peru.

“By building rural internet centres in various municipalities throughout Peru, this program is working to integrate families living in the remote corners of the country into the society as whole,” says IFAD’s Country Program Manager for Peru, Roberto Haudry. “These primarily indigenous communities have centuries of traditions, know-how and wisdom, but lacked the platforms to share this information freely – or to be part of the national discourse - so we began creating community information centres and grassroots networks to share these experiences.”

Taking advantage of the experience accumulated by IFAD in the Puno – Cusco Corredor and through the KUTIPAY trade promotion system, the program is being adapted and expanded within the IFAD-backed Sierra Sur and Sierra Norte projects in Peru.

“Overall, the experience developed by the project shows that the creation of information centres in these rural communities is a powerful tool to promote rural development and social inclusion,” Haudry says.

Competitive processes
But simply building a community centre does little to develop the ‘software’ that powers this information exchange. And in order to spur demand-driven development, the project looked toward the free-market.

This July, they hosted a competition designed to streamline information and communication technologies by providing co-financing to winning proposals. “The winning programs will enhance access to internet technologies, promote digital literacy, serve as an instrument for municipal transparency, and will facilitate learning and sharing between various groups,” Haudry says.

A look at the winning innovations

First Place: Innovation Audio-Visual Centre. A pilot project to develop a methodology for the strengthening of the Aymara identity within virtual spaces, presented by the Municipality of Socca Acora.

Second Place (tie):
Wireless Municipal Networks. Implementing a wireless network between educational institutions and the municipality, this project seeks to strengthen classroom teaching innovations with the implementation of computers and educational software, presented by the Municipality of Macari.

Second Place (tie):
Information Management. This project looked toward capacity building in information and communications technologies in the district of Pucyura.

Third Place: Community ITC. This will strengthen information and communication technologies in the community of Patabamba, district of Coya, Calca Province.

To see how these new initiatives are working throughout Peru, check out their new website at www.ticsurandino.net.

Speak Spanish? See how information systems are being leveraged throughout Peru in this CEPES study.

Graph It!

This graph from World Bank data shows how internet access has grown in Latin America over the past two decades.