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Tools to combat drought and desertification

VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 1

									     V IRTUAL A CADEMY          FOR THE     S EMI -A RID T ROPICS (VASAT)


Tools to combat drought
and desertification
Rural areas have some typical characteristics       ble content that can be applied by rural               In India, a pilot information hub with
associated with huge limitations in terms of        stakeholders. Need-based content thus de-          connectivity to the Internet was established
communication and other infrastructural             veloped with national or international part-       in Addakal village, in partnership with And-
facilities. But if the rural areas, especially in   ners is uploaded at www.vasat.org. which           hra Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Programme.
the developing countries, are located in such       are then accessed and adapted by local part-       A 4,200-member federation of micro-cred-
a region which are by means of geographic           ners, intermediaries and rural farm commu-         it societies of rural women uses the hub for
location problematic, the problems associ-          nities. Trained community animators in             their information needs. It has a low-cost
ated with the rural community reciprocate.          partner organisations and multi-disciplinary       connectivity to the Internet. ICRISAT in
Such a situation can be solved by promot-           professionals act as field experts. In this way,   Hyderabad offers significant advice and
ing community awareness with the help of            VASAT turns scientific knowledge into prac-        feedback on content. VASAT extends
ICT. Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid              tical solutions to help mitigate the effects of    information/instruction support to
Tropics (VASAT) has shows the way.                  drought and desertification. It offers life-       organisations that have established
    International Crops Research Institute          long learning opportunity to the poor, less-       hundreds of rural ICT hubs. VASAT-WCA
for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), In-            educated and illiterate people of the              (West and Central Africa) uses low frequency
ternational Livestock Research Institute            semi-arid tropics (primary learners). VASAT        and solar powered community FM radio
(ILRI) and International Water Management           complements, supplements and builds on             stations interfaced with new digital radio
Institute (IWMI), with the support of the           existing agricultural extension-communica-         satellite (WorldSpace) technology for sharing
ICT-KM programme of the Consultative                tion initiatives, it designs content into          and accessing data/voice. A pilot hub was
Group on International Agricultural Re-             instructional modules which create a               established in Niger in partnership with the
search (CGIAR) and the Desert Margins               foundation for further learning, keeping in        local federation of farmers. Radio Kahé has
Programme in WCA, have initiated the                mind literacy levels. VASAT is sustained by        a 20 Km radius, reaching about 4,000
VASAT. It is a strategic information, com-          community involvement, local relevance             villagers. A broadcast program dedicated to
munication and non-formal distance                  and strategic partnerships among local,            VASAT and integrated with agricultural
education coalition for rural communities           national and international organisations.          broadcasts is aired six hours a week. The
and intermediaries led by ICRISAT.                                                                     other pilot station is located 300 Km from
                                                    VASAT in Asia and Africa                           Niamey in a village called Gabi.
What VASAT is all about?                            VASAT is operating as a virtual academy in
The aims of VASAT are -                             South Asia (SA) and West and Central Africa        Recent activities of VASAT
• to link rural farm communities with re-           (WCA), in partnership with the Deserts             VASAT is an active member of the National
   searchers, credible intermediaries and           Margins Programme. It is an innovative and         Alliance for Mission 2007, which organised
   markets through an interface of ICT and          cost-effective medium to inform, educate           the First National Virtual Congress of Farm-
   open and distance learning (ODL)                 and support a critical mass of rural women         ers, (NVC) a part event of the 93rd Indian
   methods                                          and men spread across vast geographical            Science Congress in Hyderabad (India). In
• to host a virtual college of experts through      areas about drought and desertification.           NVC, The President of India, APJ Abdul
   a web-based learning content manage-             It is a response to the need of the                Kalam met with drought stricken farm
   ment system (LCMS) and link them with            United Nations Convention to Combat                families of seven villages from across India
   various stakeholders                             Desertification (UNCCD) to implement a             via video link. He answered their questions
• to empower vulnerable rural communi-              communication strategy for combating               on drought management and improved ag-
   ties to collectively identify problems,          drought and desertification. The Seed              ricultural practices. An expert centre was
   articulate their needs and take up               support and technical advice are being pro-        organised at ICRISAT, Hyderabad for the
   informed action in relation to drought           vided by Commonwealth of Learning                  Virtual Congress. More information is avail-
   preparedness                                     (COL) while the Technical Partners are Sun         able at http://www.vasat.org, http://
   VASAT emphasizes creating demand-                Microsystems and US National Academy of            www.icrisat.org
driven easy-accessible, easily understanda-         Sciences.                                                     Source: ICRISAT, Hyderabad (India)


20                                                                                                                                  i4d | February 2006

								
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