Sustainable and Integrated Rural Economic Development

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Project E3 - Sustainable and Integrated Rural Economic Development Summary: 

Project E3 is a Public, Private and Community Partnership Project for creating a sustainable Rural Economic Development Telecentre Network to help grass root youth women farmers and micro businessmen to improve their quality of life through economic inclusion through innovative use of ICT. Project E3 used ICT for effective addressing of rural Telecentre economic problems implementing a local language based e business development program across 6o Telecentres in Uva province, Sri Lanka.

60 Telecentres in Uva Province established by the government had faced a critical sustainability risk as they were not able to generate adequate income, lack community participation and lack of Technical and business knowledge. E fusion private ltd undertook an assignment from government ICT Agency for economic development and help sustain the Telecentres . The Uva province has the highest poverty in Sri Lanka with poverty gap index of 6.2 compared to national index of 3.1. 92% percent of community were involved in Agriculture sector, hence any economic development requires a major focus on farmers. The education and literacy rate also is very low, in Uva province challenged with critical transportation, communication and energy challenges.

The needs assessment carried out found the need for creating a foundation for a long term economic development program starting with basic capacity building, community awareness, and content and services deployment for economic progression. M & E and Research found that rural Telecentres operated in isolation, lacked ICT knowledge, e content for community involvement. Telecentre services limited to basic training in ICT literacy were not enough to generate revenue for sustainability. They had a English language barrier to use internet. The Telecentre operators lacked leadership and poorly trained. Brain drain was a major issue due to lack of economic progress in Telecentres.

The Regional Impact Team (RIT) assignment given by ICTA was an ample opportunity to design an ICT integrated long term economic development project. Taking the concept of E Leadership, E-Business and E Learning, Project E3 was designed as a pilot project of 2 years, which involved capacity building, training, and content & services deployment ans technical assistance to grass root Telecentres to build an ICT based economic network.

Project E3 designed an economic development process making ICT as prime strategic tool for communications, capacity building, training; technical assistance and deployment of business services through Telecentres. The lack of English knowledge addressed with local language ICT for business, content and communication tools to enable inclusion of rural communities in the development. Local language ICT helped reaching of stakeholders faster and improved communications to increase participation, helped making economic progress, increased training effectiveness, improved monitoring and evaluation and community involvement to reach project goals.

ICT strategies helped project E3 to transform isolated Telecentres to a Rural Economic Development Network. ICT tools used included community networking tools, micro business tools, e learning tools and applications for engaging rural communities in business through Telecentres. Local language ICT helped bridging the gap of rural community participation in online economic activities. This was enabled by the development and deployment of local languages technologies for increasing rural online economic activities and employment opportunities. The project used ICT effectively to empower rural communities, creating equal opportunities, improving entrepreneurship and sustaining Telecentres. Project used ICT for rural agriculture development, improving economy of rural women, increasing employment, improving rural business and financial management. It helped rural communities to...
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