Skip navigation
21comments
Share conversation: Share via:

Caesar Ogole

Feb 8, 2014
02:40

Member


1 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
Dear all, Your input to make this proposal better, or to make it a realization is very much welcome! Caesar

Lingaraj Jayaprakash

Mar 19, 2014
04:11

Fellow


2 |
Share via:
Thank you for submitting this comprehensive proposal. The key question on your proposal is -- How do you plan to engage the user groups on a sustainable basis, considering the socially complex and technologically backwards contexts such as the one in Africa? I believe, spending time on this aspect could help you going to the implementation stage of this project.

Caesar Ogole

Mar 21, 2014
10:00

Member


3 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
Lingaraj, thank you for the very good question. I am in the process of preparing a response to it. I will share the response with everyone right here shortly.

Caesar Ogole

Mar 24, 2014
11:15

Member


4 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
A response to Lingaraj: Lingaraj asks: "How do you plan to engage the user groups on a sustainable basis, considering the socially complex and technologically backwards contexts such as the one in Africa? " Background In Africa, communities sharing similar social characteristics such as language and culture often exist as clusters throughout the continent. For example, in Uganda, there are over 40 different ethnic groups and each group forms a cluster, living or occupying a particular sub-region or part of the country. Members of the different tribal groups speak different languages (or dialects) and members within a group share culture and other social interests. The (sub)regions occupied by a given social group is usually small enough in land area size and therefore it is fair to assume that a given grouping experiences same climate dynamics. Moreover, the occupants’ activities (land cover / land use activities) that could potentially impact (or be impacted by the climate) are a commonality in a given cluster. For example, Kenya neighbors Uganda to the East. (Both countries are part of East Africa). The Northern Western region of Kenya and the adjacent North Eastern region of Uganda, both semi-arid, are homes to two different tribal groups, Turkana and Karamojong respectively, each group speaking a different language. Indeed this example of diversity is merely a tip of the iceberg as far as the subtleties entangled in the social organization across Africa are concerned. In this illustrative example, it is to be noted that even if the two neighboring communities (average. population = one million people) share similar climatic patterns, by virtue of each having semi aridness as climate type, and even though both communities are nomadic pastoralists (both are cattle rustlers), there exist an important difference: language or dialect! And in addition to that, the two neighboring communities are subject to different environmental policies of their respective countries. And this type of social complexity is the defining characteristic of African continent as a whole, each of the 47 countries comprising multiple diverse groups. Contrary to what is believed by most people who have not bothered to visit or look up (in a balanced manner) information about Africa, Africa has some few impressively developed cities and infrastructures in the various countries of the continent. The urbanization and the advent of globalization have seen the urban areas of Africa growing to bear characteristics much less the same as the cities of developed countries such as USA, Europe or Asia. What is unique though about Africa is that these developments do not necessarily come without extra costs to climate. While the urban areas of Africa (e.g Johannesburg in South Africa, Kampala in Uganda, or Lagos in Nigeria) boast of an increasing number and sometimes impressive high rise buildings and many cars and flourishing automobile industry, (partly) evident by the mundane bumper-to-bumper traffic jams (in such cities), there is something that goes untold: most of these cars mostly imported from Asia and Europe are reconditioned and sometimes very old cars. These cars emit the gases at very environmentally unfriendly rates. Industrial towns in African countries, like their counterparts in the developed world emit slew of smoke (and sometimes a plethora of it) every day. Unfortunately, the demands that come with the growth of towns have seen encroachment of surrounding wetlands, destabilizing the natural ecosystem. This trend is common in many, if not all towns across Africa. In brief, the environmental concerns in African cities are much similar to those concerns induced by those of the western world with some important differences: there is not as much being done to address the problems of climate change as a result of urbanization. Then, the rural community is where one sees a sharp difference in terms of cultural practices and community's attitudes towards natural phenomena such as climate (in comparison to the majority of urban residents). In general, the remote rural communities have poorly developed transportation and information and communications infrastructure - the key amenities required to facilitate connection of the communities to the outside world. A disconnected or isolated community cannot learn new things effectively, in the case- in terms of climate-related concerns. It is important to note that over 70 % of the poor live in the rural communities. Though, it is the case that a concerned number of citizens at local community strata often have in place initiatives to address climate/environmental issues. The rural communities employ rudimentary techniques for tackling issues relating to climate. In such cases, community actions take the form of local farmers getting sensitized (by resident trained personnel) on what kinds of crops to grow in order to sustain land in natural form. Or, it could be a case where the more primitive societies, through awareness creations, are simply getting to appreciate the fact that wild burning (e.g for hunting) comes with adversity on climate. The local communities in the rural areas do not have to know the name of the gas produced as a result of burning bushes. Of course, this presents a limitation in learning. Partly, widespread ignorance is due to high illiteracy rate in the rural community. Also, such a problem could be attributed to the limited vocabulary of the many dialects: languages that have not developed to the stage of having parallels (translations) of scientific recipes. Community dialects, in most cases, do not have equivalents of technical terms such as "global warming", "carbon dioxide", etc. (Some renown African scholars are gathering efforts to promote "enrichment" of African languages through incorporation of the technical jargons in the local dialect [1]. One gets to see this as a feasible plan for languages are never static. New words can always be coined.) That said, it helps a reader to understand that it's mostly the few educated people who can read, write or speak the international languages (because these languages are the ones used as languages of instruction at formal schools). NOTE: The following section is under development. Challenges (summary) ------ - lack of climate data (example remote sensing). For example, in a recent review of remote sensing applications, only one data was cited in the entire Africa[2] - languages and cultural diversity - few trained experts - poor or no infrastructure - corruption : diversion of donor resources, exploitation of tax payers Opportunity (light at the end of the tunnel) ------------ a) Internet and communications infrastructure - The internet grow rate is promising - the number of people with access is growing and the number of computer literate people is high now, even in the rural areas b) Africa broadband communications infrastructure : rapid groth c) growth if human capital - training and including software incubation centers exist across many countries in Africa. - literacy rate is rising. Solutions to address the problems posed by the social complex nature: Solutions will leverage the opportunities presented (in sketch above) as well as technology adaptation (e.g internationalization/customization) of software in local languages. (More on this later). In brief, the user groups will be organized around the cultural groups. This page will be updated to include discussion of sustainability issues. To be continued References: 1. http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/644569-african-scholars-still-enslaved-says-ngugi.html [Last accessed March 24 2014] 2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924271610001140 [Last accessed March 24 2014]

Lingaraj Jayaprakash

Mar 24, 2014
01:12

Fellow


5 |
Share via:
Thanks for the detail response. You could refer CORDEX Africa for climate data on Africa. Alternatively you could contact Prof Chris Lennard at University of Capetown who leads the CORDEX initiative in Africa. http://wcrp-cordex.ipsl.jussieu.fr/index.php/community/domain-africa-cordex For remote sensing data please download the landsat data, thats freely available from 1970s. Best wishes for your proposal.

Caesar Ogole

Mar 25, 2014
01:22

Member


6 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
Thank you Lingaraj for the invaluable information and the word of encouragement. Below, I provide the second part in response to the question about the technological backwardness of Africa, opportunities available and how we hope to leverage the opportunities to provide sustainable solutions. In this second part, I also expanded on how to address the complex social dynamics. Still, if there is any question or augmentation, feel free add it here and I will be glad to respond accordingly. Thank you again. Your question is what I get asked a lot of times, and I thought I had to provide these details for the benefit of other readers as well. I draw some of these details from my experience living in Africa. CHALLENGES UNIQUE TO AFRICA (a) The technological backwardness of Africa. The current US President, Barack Obama, in his book "The Audacity of Hope" (2006), wrote about his experience which, in my view, presents a compelling truth about the technological backwardness of Africa. Here is his recollection of his tour of Google Headquarters (sometime in 2004 - 2005): Obama writes: ------------- Toward the end of the tour, Larry led me to a room where a three-dimensional image of the earth rotated on a large flat-panel monitor. Larry asked the young Indian American engineer who was working nearby to explain what we were looking at. "These lights represent all the searches that are going on right now," the engineer said. "Each color is a different language. If you move the toggle this way" - he caused the screen to alter - "you can see the traffic patterns of the entire Internet system." The images was mesmerizing, more organic than mechanical, as if I were glimpsing the early stages of some accelerating evolutionary process, in which the boundaries between men - nationality, race, religion, wealth - were rendered invisible and irrelevant , so that the physicist in Cambridge, the bond trader in Tokyo, the student in a remote Indian village, and the manager of a Mexico City department store were drawn into a single, constant thrumming conversation, time and space giving way to a world spun entirely of light. Then I noticed the broad swaths of darkness as the globe spun on its axis - most of Africa, chunks of South Asia, even portions of the United States, where the thick cords of light dissolved into a few discrete strands. ----------------------------------------- Implications: [For such a widely read book from a credible author,] most readers around the world become aware of the technological backwardness of Africa. However, what most people don't realize is that by such information reaching to as many people as those who read the book and who ended up telling another person about the situation, who, in turn, told another person, who went on to tell another, and so on, an opportunity for growth (of businesses, government policies, etc) also spring up across Africa- which helps to reduce the extent of digital divide described in the book over the course of the time. As we read this proposal today (2014), almost a decade after Obama's publication (for example)- one will be amazed today by the pace at which some parts of Africa has developed both in technological infrastructure and human expertise- both ingredients for sustainable development in the technology front. It only makes sense that this (partial) narrative of the (now) US President falls under the category of "opportunities" in his book. He clearly had deep knowledge of what he wanted to achieve (ultimately). Indeed there are statistics gathered by other credible sources (World Bank data, International Telecommunications Union, etc) to support the claim that Africa has seen significant growth in information and communications technologies over the past decade. There are now a good number of young internet entrepreneurs across Africa as well as a number of software incubation centers as initiatives of educational initiatives to develop technologies tailored for African locale. It is important to note that (advanced) climate science is still lagging behind. A comprehensive survey on remote sensing (see reference 1 in part 1 "Background"), for example, reveals that while developed countries such as USA, China, India, France, etc have repositories for climate data, Africa, on the other hand has only a few datasets (only limited to a few areas). This means that scientific applications (eg change detection) can be carried out only to a limited extent. Although this proposal will not have much to do with the basic remote sensing applications, it helps to pinpoint this aspect (lack of adequate datasets) as the major context where the notion of technological backwardness lies. (Since this is outside the scope of this project, acknowledgement of the fact of matter suffices.) (b) Problems posed by diversity: language, culture and policies --------------------------------------------------------------- From the background information given before , one can infer that effective delivery of services to the diverse communities of Africa requires that each recipient community be supplied with tailored solutions. As an example, the labels of user interfaces or user prompts (in the context of software or electronic gadget) must be rendered in the language understandable by the local users. For this project, the local policies simply will have to be adapted to promote/embrace use of the technology. The key players will here will be the local authority and/or private sector. (c) Few trained experts ----------------------- We will have to be clear about the different categories of expertise that are needed. In the original context of the ultimate goal of this project, the term "domain experts" refers to trained environmentalists who are readily available to provide training and advisory services to the local community. These will also serve as the moderators for the user groups. Each community or user group will have a moderator. SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS (a) make the solution described in the proposal ubiquitous by providing flexibility through the conventional web, text and voice communications. And note that this integrated technological solution will also have group teleconferencing services therefore the few trained experts can engage user groups remotely. (Again, these features have ready been implemented and tested as prototypes). Most rural community members have cell phones (and they really enjoy using them for productive purposes – an incentive), and our proposed solution only requires one to have a minimum of a feature phone to take part in the teleconference (town-hall-time of meeting)! It is cheap, to start with but for sustainability purposes, activist/user groups will have to meet the costs through prepaid services. This only applies to telephone aspects, and it is quite cheap! (Perhaps local authorities could provide the funding support in the long term? How to achieve this is not yet fully thought out at this point). (b) localize/customize the solutions by translation into local languages. This will require partnership with local software incubation centers across Africa. In the past, such an approach of language translation was shown to work well (eg the Mozilla Firefox web browser was translated into at least three major languages of Uganda by a team of project undertakers at a software incubation center in at Makerere University Kampala, Uganda)[3]. References [3] http://cit.mak.ac.ug/projects/253-national-software-incubation-centre-nsic-changing-the-software-landscape-in-uganda.html [Last accessed March 25 2014 ]

Michael Brown

May 4, 2014
01:14

Catalyst


7 |
Share via:
May I suggest different terminology than 'technologically backwards'? This kind of language in English carries a connotation that I think is best avoided. The reason is that technological 'backwardness' is not defined. Are we discussing access to electricity? Literacy rates? Carbon emissions? Anything quantifiable? There are many social and physical technology criteria that could be examined in a quantitative fashion. 'Backwardness' also begs the question in the classic sense of the term. Is technological progress uni-directional? Is it always a good thing? What are the negative implications (social, economic, environmental) of technological progress? How do we compare different kinds of technology? Let us be as precise as we can and avoid having readers 'fill in the blanks' based on their biases and pre-conceptions, which we all carry with us. @cogole, I look forward to reviewing your proposal in greater detail over the next few days. -MB

Caesar Ogole

May 5, 2014
09:02

Member


8 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
Dear MB, thank you for your input. My opinion is that your questions probably carry merits but in different contexts (outside the scope of this project proposal). It would have helped a lot if you had read fully the proposal itself as well as the previous comments first in order to appreciate the context in which gjlraj used the term 'technologically backwards'. It was aptly applied, at least to me the proposal creator- and it helped elicit very useful information that are aiding in the refinement and continued implementation. All the other questions you posed, in my view, are thus out of context as well. I will be glad to respond to any other questions after you review the proposal. Thank you.

Darian Leyer

May 15, 2014
03:36

Member


9 |
Share via:
What about creating "Logging Forests" on the cleared areas and cutting down the lumber taken from the wild?

Anna Förster

May 19, 2014
04:07

Member


10 |
Share via:
I greatly support your idea and I believe you could be very successful. What you need, I believe, is some more work on the technological part. When relying on services such as Amazon or Google, costs will always be your enemy, as well as access to the Internet. As you are talking about local African communities, it is very improbable that a community will be able to invest money for this. Thus, you need some sort of a novel solution, which does not require constant internet access and no paid services. Juts one example comes from my own work in opportunistic networks. We have written a paper about the so called "massively distributed clouds", where data is exchanged directly between devices (any kind of devices) and where applications can be written by end users and do not need any further services. Here is the reference: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258449355_DICE_A_Novel_Platform_to_Support_Massively_Distributed_Clouds?ev=prf_pub One of our envisioned applications (even if not described in the paper) was exactly third-country low-income communities. It is already known, that they often get hold of old devices from developed countries, but they do not have access to paid services such as GPRS. This could be a solution to the problem. I am very enthusiastic about your proposal and I would be happy to support you. In case you are interested in this tech solution or you would like simply to discuss others let me know.

Osero Shadrack Tengeya

Jun 13, 2014
07:35

Fellow


11 |
Share via:
@Cogole, you have a nice proposal, but i suggest you to update the information you are giving in your proposal. I guess it will help. Colab member.

Caesar Ogole

Jun 13, 2014
09:09

Member


12 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
@Tengeya, do you have in mind, anything in particular that would like to see an update made on, and that would contribute to improvement, no matter how small, the quality of the proposal. If you do, be specific about it and I/we will make reviews on any specific suggestions you will make accordingly. Otherwise, I see no need for making further updates at this time. Except I have to make it known to you and to others that the development team is making progress (in parallel) with the implementation phase (i.e refining the prototype). Thank you for your interest in the proposal!

Climate Colab

Aug 5, 2014
08:28

Member


13 |
Share via:
It is a good idea, and there are some platforms that already do some of this. So a key missing ingredient is a market analysis.It is quite expensive, so a much bigger risk... This proposal clearly fits the crowdsourcing aspect of this contest. What needs to be clarified in your proposal is whether you are interested in climate adaptation strategies in general, or disaster risk management. If you are interested in gathering information about the various measures undertaken at the community level, e.g. to mitigate the effects of natural hazards, it should be made clearer.

Monika Dos Santos

Aug 7, 2014
12:57

Fellow


14 |
Share via:
Congrats Caesar !

Caesar Ogole

Aug 16, 2014
12:23

Member


15 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
Thank you judges for the useful feedback!

Caesar Ogole

Aug 16, 2014
12:21

Member


16 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
Thank you Monika! I found the ideas in your 2013 winning proposal very useful in informing me about the developments in Africa! Will continue to keep in touch!

Victor Blanco

Aug 26, 2014
03:08

Member


17 |
Share via:
I wish you the best! Please, check my proposal in Waste Management Contest, named "REACC: Recycled Debris for Adaptation to Climate Change"; and I would apreciate your support as I supported your proposal.

Climate Colab

Sep 3, 2014
12:22

Member


18 |
Share via:
The proposal cites "make available to the users ..."; but it doesn't clearly define who these users are! Is there a demand, on part of the population, for this kind of tool? There's somewhat a contradiction and paradox in this proposal. While on the one hand it puts a lot of emphasis on the digital divide, it's a sophisticated system that will only be accessible and available to those who already have access and know how to use this technology. The system in itself wont bring onboard or include new users unless they are already in the: "literate, educated, can afford or have access to not only a computer but the Internet, which also implies electricity and the rest of it". So, any mention of inclusive and collaborative is and will be limited to that group not the vast majority of the public in Africa, which are still predominantly rural. This is a system for specialists not "crowd" per se...

Monika Dos Santos

Sep 4, 2014
11:45

Fellow


19 |
Share via:
I see synergy with this proposal and the one I submitted last year - in that one of the critiques from the panelists at the conference was 'what is our communication strategy for the healthcare/system strengthening concept for Africa.' I had no answer for the panel last year and was caught off guard with that question (as I am not IT/communications clued up - and we hadn't thought this aspect through at all). I think this proposal fills this gap - Caesar I am guessing you were in the audience. One of the consortium members of the project I am involved in, Africa Health Placements, specifically focusses on rural areas in South Africa/Africa - and we are starting to network for implementation next year in a rural area in the Limpopo Province (Kruger to Canyons biosphere). My quick thoughts raised to the query above its that yes - rural areas due to lack general resources - although almost all are linked to rural hospitals that have an infrastructure (internet connectivity etc) - public health/medical related organisations such as Africa Health Placements could play a significant role in setting up this infrastructure. Also I think there may be something to learn from how the HIV/AIDS epidemic is currently been managed from a public health perspective across Africa in rural areas - a strategy that is working in rural South Africa, for example, it the use of cell phones - sms reminders for example for patient ARV followups. Im just bouncing ideas here for the IT savvy ones in our midst - but I think that when speaking specifically from an African perspective - one can piggy back on lessons learnt from the HIV public health management perspective - in terms of reaching those in rural areas and linking them to communication networks. Almost everyone in rural areas has a cell phone. I hope the above makes sense..

Caesar Ogole

Sep 4, 2014
12:57

Member


20 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
Yes Monika, I was in the audience, and that particular question to you about the communication strategy as integral part of your project reinforced the idea that I already had to focus on the information technology part as a way of complementing the efforts you described in your proposal. I talked about your input (2013 proposal) and how it aligns with my proposal.

Caesar Ogole

Sep 4, 2014
02:11

Member


21 |
Share via:
Proposal
contributor
I will address the feedback from the judges soon.