Darfur and Technology

I wanted to point your attention to the deteriorating conditions in Darfur, Sudan. Despite a promised cease-fire, Sudan has been attacking aid workers.
As Newsweek reported, at least four female aid workers have been beaten and sexually abused recently — raped in the case of two French women.

In addition, an aid worker in Sudan tells me that on Jan. 22 the police raided a party in the city of Nyala and arrested 22 employees of aid groups. Several were beaten and one woman was sexually abused but managed to fend off an attempted rape.

Broader security is also collapsing. On a road near Bulbul that used to be safe, gunmen stopped a public bus in the middle of the day and brutally beat the men and gang-raped the women for hours. In the face of all this, aid workers are jittery and some are pulling out.

Yet Europe is oblivious (the Davos conference here has great sessions on Africa but nothing on Darfur). President Bush has been better than most world leaders, but still pathetic: he mustered half a sentence in his State of the Union address. Perhaps this is because Mr. Bush regards the situation as tragic but hopeless, but in fact there is plenty he could do.

He could speak out forcefully about Darfur. He could bring victims to the White House for a photo op. He could help the U.N. send a force to protect Chad and the Central African Republic — while continuing to push for U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur itself. He could visit Darfur or Chad and invite European or Chinese officials to join him. He could invite African leaders to Washington for a summit meeting that would include discussion of Darfur. He could impose a no-fly zone. He could develop targeted sanctions against Sudanese leaders. He could begin forensic accounting to find assets of those leaders in Western countries. He could call on NATO and the Pentagon to prepare contingency plans in case the janjaweed start massacring the hundreds of thousands of Darfuris in camps.

And this weekend he could telephone a few African presidents to tell them what a catastrophe it would be if Africa chose Mr. Bashir as its leader.

- Nick Kristof (at Coalition for Darfur)

Thanks to Mick Hartley for keeping up on the situation. Read more on Mick's blog here and here.

On another note, here is a really great post on using technology with development projects.
Consider technologies like Wimax, an easy to deploy broadband wireless technology, that can cover large geographical areas – up to 50km – at fast speeds, up to 72mps. Wimax is perfect for peri-urban and more rural areas. It could help Government bring new services to the recovering North and facilitate trade. In June 2006, the roll-out of Uganda’s Wimax network began. Can Government, the donors and the private sector help finish the job and make a wired Northern Uganda a reality?

Think about new low-cost solutions like Motorola’s Motofone, a no frills cellphone designed just for the rural market. The unit is dust-proof, uses voice prompts to local languages, has extended battery life, and is affordable. Especially given the difficulty of travel and land-line communication, opening up a strong cell market in places like Northern Uganda would seem to make sense, lowering the costs of doing business, and helping provide security and reliability to potential investors. Can Uganda jump start this market?

Or, how about the highly anticipated $100 laptop that is already proposed for Emerging Markets like Brazil, Nigeria and Rwanda? Current plans call for the distribution up to 15 million of the devices in 2007, which feature full-color, a 500MHz processor, and wireless broadband capabilities. Will Government and the aid agencies help bring the tools of the wired world to Gulu?

- Andy's Global View
Thanks to Jack Fruity for bringing me to this really innovative and creative article about working in development in countries that currently have little access to technology.

Update: Please check out this great post on an extremely innovative solution to a large problem that have been plaguing Sudanese refugees. Thank you Elizabeth!


Elizabeth Krecker said...

Thank you for the links to both of these.

I sometimes volunteer at the food bank in the neighborhood of the hospital where I work. To think people risk their lives to hand out a bit of food to people less fortunate than themselves...

We are so fortunate, and we take so much for granted.

Elizabeth Krecker said...

Mai Wen, this post inspired me to post a story about Darfur on my blog. Come visit!

Elizabeth Krecker said...

Mai Wen, this post inspired me to post a story about Darfur on my blog. Come visit!

Elizabeth Krecker said...

Mai Wen, this post inspired me to post a story about Darfur on my blog. Come visit!

mai wen said...

Yay!!! I'm so glad. I'll be right there...


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