Friday, December 12, 2008

Field work in Kabale

After a few days in Kampala, Christine and I jumped on the Post Bus (slowest bus ever) to Kabale, 434km from Kampala. We started off by meeting the two telecentre managers from Kabale and Kachwekano. Formerly under IDRC’s African Highlands Initiative (AHI), the telecentres have been taken over to the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs). The NAADs coordinator responsible for the district’s telecenters, had strong interest in expanding the idea of village information centres (VICE: currently piloted in Rubaya sub-county) to the rest of their 20 sub-countries.

Six focus group discussions were conducted and 24 key informants were interviewed within the 3 weeks. Our focus groups consisted of the displaced Batwa community, craft women, volunteer youth radio presenters, women and men farmers groups. Some of the key informants we met were: Red Cross, religious organizations, anti-corruption NGO, Kabale hospital / health centre staff, tow truck services, police, fire department, NAADS, and all the available wireless network nodes.

From preliminary observations, this rural area utilized a mix of traditional and mobile phone techniques for communication during an emergency. This research results will attempt to draw the before and after effects of ICTs in addressing emergencies in the region. Lastly, the CWRC have a great case study set up in Kabale for exploring sustainable business models and the telecentres are keen to see wireless internet be more affordable and reliable in their area.

It was a great research trip and now the transcripts sit on my desk for analysis and write up. Oh boy.

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