Using Information Communication Technologies (ICT) for building the capacities of HIV/AIDS service providers in India
SAATHII’s Information Communication Technologies (ICT) project was funded through the ICT R&D grants competition organized by Asian Media Information and Communications Centre (AMIC), Singapore, on behalf of the Pan Asia Networking Program of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada, the Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC). The project took place from 2004 to 2006, although several of the ICT initiatives are still operating.
Prior to the grant, SAATHII had, through an India-wide needs-assessment, identified knowledge and information gaps impeding provision of effective prevention and treatment services by over 1500 civil society agencies. Inadequate human, financial and time resources limited agencies, especially in rural areas, in sending their staff for in-person multi-day trainings, which are often conducted in cities. Information Communication Technology was proposed as one of the solutions for bridging these gaps. ICT-based solutions provide opportunities for individuals within agencies to bypass conventional organizational hierarchies, time, other resource constraints, and other obstacles to receiving training. The ICT initiative enabled SAATHII reach previously unreached stakeholders from civil society.
SAATHII developed and implemented four ICT-based capacity-building solutions:
- E-training to reach rural and semi-urban agencies that have limited access to in-person training, covering areas such as biostatistical data analysis
- E-forums on topics such as nutrition, anti-retroviral therapy, home-based care, counseling, etc.
- E-support to provide ongoing support to agencies on issues including proposal writing, documentation, and data analysis
- E-library to disseminate scientific, social and policy updates, media coverage of the epidemic, job opportunities, and grants and training opportunities. The E-library facilitated the users to retrieve and contribute information.
There is still a need for local-language browser capability in e-forums and e-support activities, though local-language support is much harder to implement for training modules and library resources. Hybrid solutions involving a mix of ICT and non-ICT modes of information and knowledge transfer should be explored. Active collaboration among content- and training- providers and external low-cost/open-source IT solution developers is called for. SAATHII is currently addressing these issues.