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|Title: ||Assessing Network Applications for Economic Development|
|Authors: ||Aral, Sinan|
|Issue Date: ||10-Nov-2008|
|Series/Report no.: ||CeDER-PP-2001-03|
|Abstract: ||PAE Team’s Objectives
Ø Create a survey instrument to assess the impact of technology intervention in rural India
Ø Advise on potential applications for village-level Internet terminals
The aim of the Sustainable Access in Rural India (SARI) project is to improve the lives of individuals in poor
rural communities by leveraging information and communications technologies to facilitate economic
development. Ultimately, the project’s success will be measured by its social and economic impact and
viability, which depends critically on the appropriateness of applications provided to end-users.
Our conclusions and recommendations concerning applications are as follows:
A price application that posts the daily price fluctuations of certain goods in order to promote competition
among sellers and improve the economic decision making of villagers and traders may not increase efficiency
or further economic development; its effectiveness depends critically on geographic scope and a focus on
goods whose prices exhibit sufficient price volatility and differentiation. We recommend a central web sitebased
price application, with independent kiosk operators responsible for inputting price information from
villages in which markets exist.
A spot labor market application that aggregates supply and demand of jobs for clusters of villages holds
much promise—there are potential benefits from coordinating labor markets in the area studied. The
relatively constant need for work coupled with unmet demand suggests that there is a significant willingness
to pay for a service that matches supply and demand for labor in a timely and accountable way. We
recommend a bulletin-board type labor market application that connects small numbers of nearby villages.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY iv
An agriculture application that addresses the basic knowledge needs of farmers, providing weather
forecasts and information on farming techniques must include tailored content, given the diversity of crops
grown and methods employed throughout the region. We recommend a local content creation mechanism,
facilitating farmer access to agricultural expertise via simple voice or text communications, or a more robust
Deficiencies in the current state-provided healthcare infrastructure may limit the initial impact of IT within
local Public Health Centers (PHCs). Instead, we suggest a health care application that delivers information
and services to villagers directly through community centers.
Based on villager awareness levels and needs, we recommend a government services application that
would enable villagers to access information on relevant government programs and initiate online requests for
necessary government documents.
While applications to facilitate education (particularly adult learning) may be useful, there appear to be
significant implementation barriers at the school level.
The motivation for these proposed applications stems from several regional attributes, inferred from local
economic data and extensive interviews with villagers, school representatives, health workers and NGO staff
Ø Many if not most villages exhibit segregation along religious and/or caste lines.
Ø While some data is readily available and disseminated (e.g., prices of heavily traded goods),
other potentially critical pieces of information are not easily accessible to villagers (e.g.,
livestock prices, agricultural advice, government programs).
Ø A majority of all economic activity either directly or indirectly involves agriculture, and much
of a typical villager’s social activity relates to agriculture.
Ø A majority of laborers are without a regular source of employment—unemployment is
extremely cyclical, reaching high levels during the agricultural off-season.|
|Appears in Collections:||CeDER Published Papers|
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