I had the opportunity to visit the Kiyita Family Alliance for Development (KIFAD) last week. KIFAD is a local community based Non Governmental Organization with its headquarters in Nansana Town Council in the Wakiso District of Kampala. As they explain in their mission statement, “KIFAD stands out to challenge and respond to causes and consequences of disease, poverty and ignorance with a commitment to mobilize communities to solve their own problems and live with dignity”. To achieve this well defined and fundamentally bottom-up mission KIFAD works hard to:
- increase care and support to people infected and affected with HIV/AIDS
- help families influenced by the burden of disease and poverty to become self reliant for economic sustainability
- improve access to food and medical supplies
- build internal capacity for effective and sustainable program design and implementation.
While talking with Bob, the head of the organization and John, the IT specialist working as a volunteer at KIFAD, the interest in using ICTs and New Media to further extend KIFAD’s internal capacity, and to more effectively achieve their organizational goals became the main topic. Under the artificial light of a few laptops and in the presence of a couple of switched off computer screens, we discussed the potential uses of Social Media and other Information and Communication Technologies within KIFAD.
To supply people with information, and achieve the organizational goals, KIFAD often sends a worker towards an internet café in the city to gather information on relevant topics that could be beneficial for their work. After downloading this onto a USB stick they print the information out on paper and file it in one of the many file cabinets at the office. Internet hasn’t reached their office in the Wakiso District, and with regular power failure the use of internet and computers becomes very much limited. Next to that, many people in the community cannot read or write in English, so the language in which the information is provided is another barrier.
Bob and John told me that in their work they encounter so many people who want to tell their story and share their experiences with the rest of the community (and the rest of the world) but have no way in doing this yet. Therefore they are planning in utilizing Social Networking Services to give these people a platform for conveying and sharing their stories of survival, experience and encouragement. Bob and John wish to see people they are working with uploading pictures, video’s and stories onto the internet, so they can gain more exposure and become ever more connected to the digitally connected world. These are the challenges noted for the use of ICT:
- Stable infrastructure: power, availability of medical care and medicine
- Language: Information provided in English cannot be read by people within the community, information in their own language would be a great improvement
- Connectivity: Connection to the internet in the outskirts of the city and the rural areas would give a large boost in connecting people and providing information on demand
- Unheard voices: People want to tell stories but have no access to the means to do this
Eventually Bob and John hope to improve their computer facility and provide computer training and guidance to people in the community, bettering people’s lives step by step through the use of ICT.
Kiyita Family Alliance For Development (KIFAD)
P.O. Box 33995
+256 772 586147