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PEOPLE AND THE WEB: Web 2.0 Technologies must be Development Oriented.

As I sat in the room at Baraka Agricultural College to attend the Web 2.0 learning Opportunity in Molo-Kenya, I didn’t know what to expect from the sessions which were yet to start on the morning of 27th Sept 2010. When Mr. Nicholas Kimolo, the key trainer requested us to introduce ourselves and briefly talk about the organizations we work for and what our expectations for the training were? I was second in the queue and stressed the fact that I was from Uganda, I also mentioned that my main expectation is to build on what I already knew about web 2.0 tools. At the end of the introductions, I noticed that I was the only Ugandan in a room of 24 trainees, meaning that 23 were all Kenyans.
Being the only Ugandan trainee didn’t just happen, right from the call for applications, one of the key requirements was to be Kenyan. I was the only lucky non Kenyan shortlisted and eventually invited to attend the one week training. Mr. Nicholas mentioned that over 700 applications had been received but we were the Lucky few to be shortlisted.

The training began with a welcome message from the principle of the hosting college Br. David Muchemi who warmly welcomed the participants to the college. He then gave us a brief background of the college. Read more about Baraka.
Mr. Nicholas Kimolo then introduced his co-facilitator Mr. Morris and gave a brief background of the Web 2.0 learning opportunity. He mentioned that the learning opportunity forms part of CTA initiatives that support development partners in networking, accessing and disseminating information more effectively. He then said that we were being trained as Trainers in the use and application of web 2.0 tools.
The General Principles of Web 2.0 tools
Mr. Kimolo said that the training would entail accessing information using web 2.0, Learn what web 2.0 tools are, what other people have dome with web 2.0,  Breaking it down according to functionality, how web 2.0 have been used to successful disseminate information, remote Collaboration, Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP), Mapping(Information in a Geo form), Blogging, using  Social Networks for Professional Social Networking  and finally introducing the use of iMARK module “web 2.0 and social Media for Development”.
What the participatory web for development is all about.
‘When the web started, we needed a web Master to guide and help end users but today, everything has changed. Web 2.0 tools are 2nd generation tool that empower users on the web to read and write to it. With Web 2.0 tools, you can publish your content without having to rely on others. It is user centered and enables inter-operability and Information sharing.
Web 2.0 tools alone are not relevant unless they are linked to development. They must be Participatory in a sense that people must be involved and sharing/access to information must be voluntary. We need to be ‘people centered’ and understand their needs. We must also understand that access might not only be connection but Language. Web 2.0 tools are of four categories (Aggregation, Collaborative /Filtering, Rating / tagging and Widget/Component).They can either be web based or Non-web-based)
Web 2.0 technologies were made possible because of the falling price of Hardware & Software, the technological Advances (Easy for a non Techie person to communicate and use technology) and the increasing use of Mobile devices especially in Africa.
For the first day of the training, we were introduced to web 2.0 and we looked at the opportunities and threats, we also looked at advanced searches, Alerts and RSS. Today [Day 2], we concentrated on Wikis, GoogleDocs and Skype. 
For the two days that I have so far spent, I must say that a lot of value has been added to what I already knew about web 2.0. I feel that by the end of day 5, I will be a real expert in Web 2.0 applications. Also, the choice of venue for the training was perfect, far from town with no shopping malls to distract participants, therefore the levels of concentration and participation are high.
Thanks to The Technical centre for Agriculture and rural cooperation ACP EU (CTA) for making this possible. I hope that a similar training will be conducted in Uganda in the near future.
At the end of the training, together with three Kenyan colleagues will have an entire write-up about the sessions and I promise to share the link with all you awesome people!!

Cervical cancer: A threat to Women’s life expectancy

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer affecting women worldwide and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in developing countries. According to the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), global statistics show that nearly nearly half a million new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year. And more than a quarter million women die of this disease annually, with the highest incidence and mortality rates being in sub-saharan Africa, Latin America and South Asia. Cervical cancer is the most common female cancer in Uganda. At Mulago hospital alone, 80 percent of women diagnosed or referred with cervical cancer, have the disease in it’s advanced stage.
The causes of cervical cancer have been attributed to early engagement in sexual activities, multiple sexual partners and multiple marriages. Cecil Helman in her book Culture, Health and Illness, identifies that the disease is rare in nuns and common in prostitutes. And while in recent years, there has been a growing understanding of how people’s gender identity determines the nature of their ill health, their vulnerability to disease, their ability to prevent disease and their access to healthcare.  The dimension of feminist theory and females experience puts males’ hostile sexuality at the biopsychological core of men’s subjugation of women. In most situations, a woman’s risk of getting cervical cancer will depend less on her sexual behavior but more on that of her husband or male partner since the disease can be transmitted from woman to another, with men acting as carriers. This mostly applies in communities with cultures that expect men to have many premarital and extra marital affairs as proof of their masculinity, while barring women and looking at them as eminently available and seducible.
Usually women contract the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) between their late teenage years and their early 30’s. But most often cervical cancer is found much later, usually after age 40, with a peak incidence around 45. There is a long delay between infection and invasive cancer, hence killing many annually often because it goes undiagnosed for many years. And yet the disease is preventable and can be detected and treated at an early stage when the cure rate is virtually 100 percent. Ignorance of the disease of the disease might not be the only threat, but limited access to screening and therapy for precancerous lesions and the low acceptability of pelvic examinations are also contributing factors towards the high prevalence of cervical cancer. Women might also have no control over possible disease transmission if they fail to decide when and where to seek medical attention or when and how they have sex. The imbalance of power between women and men in gender relations curtails women’s sexual autonomy and expands male sexual freedom, thereby increasing women’s vulnerability.
According to PATH, prevention of cervical cancer can be done in two ways; Preventing infection initially or detecting the precursors to cervical cancer and providing treatment. The former can be accomplished by avoiding exposure to the virus through abstinence from sexual activity or through mutual monogamy(when both partners were not previously infected). Condoms only offer 70 percent protection against HPV when used all the time. Vaccination is the other preventive method. PATH is working on incorporating HPV vaccination into a comprehensive cervical cancer prevention programme, through developing a vaccine delivery strategy, a communications strategy for out reach to communities, and an advocacy strategy for outreach to policy makers. Vaccination can be combined with screening. Every woman deserves the right to the highest attainable standard of health, especially the many millions of women who confront illiteracy, poverty, poor sanitation, and medical facilities that are inadequate and physically/ economically inaccessible.

Ugandan Citizen Journalists among the Top Ten in the e-Learning Photo Competition

The recently concluded e-Learning Africa 2010 Photo Competition saw two Ugandan citizen Journalist featuring among the top ten finalist taking up the 4th and 6th position. The photo competition aimed at finding out “How ICTs Are Changing the Way We Live”. To know what this has meant for the African continent and to learn more about how digital media (mobile phones, the Internet, computers, radio and the audio-visual) have changed the lives of the people in Africa who use them in their day-today work.(Digital citizens). More than 100 images were submitted during the competition that lasted for months and only the top ten were chosen and presented.
Ugandan took five of the ten top positions, with two of the TOP ten coming from WOUGNET Staff Members (Ssozi Javie and Maureen Agena in the 4th and 6th positions respectively).
The TOP 10 photos :
  • Will be featured in an exhibition from May 26th – 28th at eLearning Africa 2010 in Lusaka, Zambia
  • Have been announced on the eLearning Africa website: http://www.elearning-africa.com/picturevoting_home.php
  • Will also be part of the next eLearning Africa Newsletter, which is distributed to thousands of people in Africa and all over the world (mail out: Thursday, May 20).
  • will be part of the eLA photo book and handed out to high-level conference participants.
HOW CITIZEN JOURNALISM INFLUENCED OUR POSTIONS.
 
Being one of the country focal for the Citizen Journalism in Africa (CJA) project, Women of Uganda Netwok (WOUGNET) was privileged to participate in the two year recently concluded project which targeted Citizen Journalists in six African countries of Uganda, SouthAfrica, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. With support from SANGONeT and Hivos, several trainings were conducted in the mentioned countries and Uganda was not an exception.
Among the trained citizen Journalists in Uganda, Maureen Agena and Javie Ssozi from Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) were among those specifically trained as trainers. Photography was a major subject matter in all the CJA trainings and this improved on our photography skills. We also learnt about writing skills and how to describe scenes, situations and pictures. BROSDI is the second Country Focal point in Uganda for the CJA project. The key trainers were Brett Davidson, Mathew De Gale and Noma Rangana all from SouthAfrica. With these skills there was no doubt that we would fail to participate and either win or be among the winners. For details visit CJA :

HOW WE FEEL ABOUT THE FINAL RESULTS: 
Javie Ssozi: I am thrilled that I made it in the Top 10. The participants submitted very powerful photos and this made it even more competitive and interesting. This is a very good initiative that promotes citizen journalism in Africa and most of all shows how ICTs have improved livelihoods around the continent.
Maureen Agena: I feel that the Citizen Journalism trainings I received from the Hivos and SANGONeT team were not in vain, because out of Over 100 photos submitted, mine was the 6th best/relevant photo. Thanks to SANGONeT and Hivos for trusting the power and ability of Citizen Journalists like me. Thanks to the e-learning team that thought of such an innovative competition and for giving us the opportunity to participate. And to all those who voted, thanks for believing in me and seeing the relevance of the photo I submitted.
Conclusion.
It was a competition worth participating in, because it was the first of its kind especially by the e-learning team. It was interesting and yet challenging but as the saying goes, everything has to eventually come to an end. To all the top ten participants, well done and well won and to the rest of the participants, keep the fire burning with the use and application of technology in all your undertakings. To my fellow Ugandans who participated, thanks for scooping five of the top ten positions. Good luck and enjoy the conference on e-learning.