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University of Zululand (2007)

The role of information and communication technologies in harnessing information for women in rural development : case studies of South Africa and Kenya

Kituyi-Kwake, Alice Wafula

Titre : The role of information and communication technologies in harnessing information for women in rural development : case studies of South Africa and Kenya

Auteur : Kituyi-Kwake, Alice Wafula

Université de soutenance : University of Zululand

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy 2007.

The purpose of this study was to investigate and identify ICTs that provide access to information/ enhance quality of life, and improve the economic standards of rural women by conceptualizing a model for the development, management, exploitation and use of ICTs in an African rural environment. In order to obtain data from the respondents, two research methods were utilized, namely the case study and survey research. In the former, data was collected from key informants in organizations that work with ICTs and rural women. Using frame lists from both South Africa and Kenya, a total of four organizations were purposefully selected, i.e. Womensnet and the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) in South Africa, and AfriAfya and the Arid Lands Information Network (ALJN-EA) in Kenya. The survey research method was used to interview women aged between 16 and 60 years. 400 respondents formed the sampling size, randomly selected from census household data. Survey data in Kenya was obtained from the sub¬divisions of the Kaplamai Division in Trans-Nzoia district, namely : Kimoson, Sinyerere, Sitatunga and Makutano. The sample frame included : small-scale traders (68 ; 34%) ; housewives (29 ; 14.5%) ; educators/teachers (27 ; 13.5) ; farmers (26 ; 13.0) ; students (11 ; 5.5%) ; domestic workers (10 ; 5.0%) ; preachers (10 ; 5.0%) ; farm workers (6 ; 3.0%) ; large-scale entrepreneurs (5 ; 2.5%) ; nurses (4 ; 2.0%) ; clerical workers (2 ; 1.0%) ; and community development workers (2 ; 1.0%). In South Africa, a similar sample frame included : small-scale traders (58 ; 29.0%) ; housewives/homemakers (48 ; 24.0%) ; farm employees (25 ; 12.5%) ; domestic workers (18 ; 9.0%) ; educators/teachers (16 ; 8.0%) ; students (15 ; 7.5%) ; entrepreneurs managing large-scale enterprises (3 ; 1.5%) ; clerical workers (9 ; 4.5%) ; community development workers (6 ; 3.0%) ; and two preachers (2 ; 1.0%). Sampling data was obtained from census household data belonging to the magisterial districts of Umlalazi, i.e. Eshowe, Amatikulu, Gigindlovu and Mtunzini. By using the snowball sampling technique, female respondents directly and indirectly connected to one another were identified and consequently interviewed. A few major recommendations stemming from the study include the need for : women to be involved in deciding which ICTs would directly and immediately benefit their lives ; sensitization and training in the use of ICTS before project implementation ; resource centers with skilled human resources and technological capacities to train communities about ICTs ; more enhanced collaboration with rural women by being flexible and aware of their needs and requirements ; collaborative efforts with other stakeholders at community level ; the establishment of intermediary working committees at community level for enhanced communication processes ; and a feasibility study that assesses the physical infrastructure and needs assessment survey before project implementation. The study concluded that there is a strong co-relation between the levels of education of a community, types of ICTs used, information seeking behavior, and the socio-economic landscape/environment. It was also established that the enactment of a National Policy on ICT development does not guarantee the efficient and effective use of ICTs, especially by marginalized rural communities. Special efforts must be made to involve rural communities. These efforts would require policies that : encourage competition between various stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, govern the costs of ICTs, and govern connectivity in areas that are not commercially viable. As women form the majority of most rural households, special efforts need to be made in order to involve women in development initiatives such as skills enhancement initiatives, participatory mechanisms and follow-up programs.


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