Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

ALIN: Working to Bridge the Digital Divide

August 16, 2011

Small holder farmers need information about good farming practices to succeed. People need to know the value of savings accounts in order to use them. And communities will only adopt safe sanitation practices when they understand their importance to good health. Information and knowledge sit at the heart of every aspect of social, economic and community development.

Over the last few decades we have witnessed some astounding advances in information technology, which have enabled people around the world to access information using computers, and the Internet.

Yet the digital divide is still profound and there are many people who do not have access to these technologies – still nearly 5 billion people worldwide.

Information and knowledge sit at the heart of every aspect of social, economic and community development.

Fortunately, there are libraries and other organizations around the world which are providing technology services and changing lives. We created our annual Access to Learning Award to honor an organization outside the United States that has found effective, innovative ways to do just that.

Today we are celebrating the amazing work of the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), an organization that serves remote communities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. ALIN has built 12 Maarifa – or “Knowledge” – Centers across the region, which are dedicated to giving the local, rural communities the information they need in a format and language they understand.  

When your goal is to provide access to information and technology to all people, sometimes you can feel a little overwhelmed. Just look at the numbers. But organizations like ALIN are the best proof that the seemingly impossible can be done.

We can reach people in the most remote areas of the world. We can provide them with access to the information they need to live better, healthier lives. All it takes is hard work, perseverance, and imagination.

Watch the inspiring video about the 2011 Access to Learning Award winner, Arid Lands Information Network!

 

 
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