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Kerala villages to find their own space in cyber world
Citizens of Kannur district (northern part of the Kerala state in India) at the click of the mouse or through a phone call will soon be able to access all kinds of local information. Anything from the sale of a cow, job vacancies or even find brides and grooms!

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Kerala villages to find their own space in cyber world

09-05-2007 (New Delhi)
Kerala villages to find their own space in cyber world
© UNESCO New Delhi
Citizens of Kannur district (northern part of the Kerala state in India) at the click of the mouse or through a phone call will soon be able to access all kinds of local information. Anything from the sale of a cow, job vacancies or even find brides and grooms!
Akshaya, (state wide ICT project by the Government of Kerala) with support from UNESCO has just operationalised an innovative initiative for the creation of community portals in local language (Malayalam). The primary objective is to create content in local language using free and open software at the various local bodies in Kannur district and for the local communities.

Initially, the project will develop community portals for the District Panchayat, one Municipality and nine Gram Panchayats from Kannur district. The portal will comprise vital information such as: history of the community; organizations; eminent personalities; places of interest; different services/schemes offered by the local self-government; information regarding agriculture; business ventures; products; local job vacancies; educational details; health information; legal rights; local events; interactive forums; e-newsletters providing information on new technological trends and innovations etc. Content will be produced on an ongoing basis by community reporters appointed in each of the chosen panchayats under the active leadership of Akshaya entrepreneurs and facilitated by the Akshaya District office in Kannur.

To address the issue of sustainability the portals would aim at local advertisements, web based yellow pages and e-business at the local level. In addition to having such database, an information-over-a-phone-call model is envisioned where community members could also call an Akshaya centre to get information.

One of the Akshaya entrepreneurs during an interview says he is confident that the community will make best use of these services because “community members already approach the [Akshaya] centre without any hesitation for their needs”.

As part of Finding a Voice project, Ethnographic Action Research (EAR) methodology is being used to understand issues and information needs of the target communities. It is envisaged that research will be able to strengthen the community portal initiative and adapt it to a scalable model.

Akshaya Director T.K. Manzoor said the project is being implemented with the objective of providing greater amount of information to the masses using new tools of information technology. The pilot project in Kannur would be extended to the rest of the State if found successful.

Emphasizing the need of local content and community portals, Mr. Bhaskaran, Assistant Coordinator of Akshaya project, Kannur District says: “local citizens do not have access to a portal where they can easily explore appropriate jobs and sell their products. Kerala in general is yet not familiar with e-business up to now”. And to make to this new portal accessible and useful to the community, he adds: “there must be sufficient amount of local content on an ongoing basis”.

Story contributed by Kiran Mulenahalli, Regional Research Coordinator, Finding a Voice, and Jancy Francis, local ethnographic action researcher working in Kannur, Kerala.

Related themes/countries

  • This item can be found in the following topics:
          · India
          · Access to Information: News Archives 2007
          · Content Development: News Archives 2007
          · E-Governance: News Archives 2007


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