ICTs as an Effective Way to Alleviate Poverty in Developing Countries

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Information and communication technologies (ICT) play a significant role in people’s quality of life and social development. It can transform people’s lives, especially some people who live in developing countries. It can have some impact on reducing poverty in developing countries. However not everyone agree that ICTs are an effective methodology to alleviate poverty. Some experts believe that in developing countries most people are have low education levels and the governments cannot provide infrastructures which can lead to ICTs not useful to alleviate poverty. On the other hand, a number of experts believe that ICTs can increase farmer’s productivity and improve healthcare. Therefore, this essay will argue that ICTs are an effective way to alleviate poverty in developing countries because it can help those countries to increase people’s income and national health level.

To some extent, there are some barriers to use ICTs for poverty alleviation in developing countries. One important factor is most people lack education, it is hard for them to absorb new knowledge and learn new skills, and this slows down economic development. For example, in Dzindi, the local farmers could not benefit from the Dzindi Irrigation Scheme because they preferred getting information from a person ‘the extension officer’ rather than search on the Internet nor they cannot speak English, an extension worker interviewed 110 farmers of Dzindi Irrigation Scheme and indicates that most of those farmers are hard to search for useful information on the internet. It is because most of the websites on the internet are using English, but only one of ten farmers are good at English. In addition, translating agricultural technology language results in a change to the original meaning, so it is hard for farmers to communicate the newest agricultural developments (Mavhunduse and Holmner 2019, p.6). Moreover, In Bangladesh, lack of education resources become the main obstacle for using ICT. Most of Bengali are spoking Bangla, but both computer (software), internet and ICTs supported tools are using English. Mcdonald (cited in Khan 2012, p.11), stated that English is the major language in many areas. So, people who good at English can make knowledge and products available globally. On the other hand, English provides more opportunities for more educational and training course option, but in Bangladesh, English is not widely used. Leu and other experts (cited in Khan 2012, p.11) found that lack of developmentally appropriate software (DAS) is the most difficult problems for Bangladesh teachers and students because most of the software programs are designed in English. This evidence indicates that higher education level is very important for using ICTs to alleviate poverty in developing countries. Another hindering ICTs to alleviate poverty in developing countries is governments do not have the qualified infrastructure. An example is Bangladesh lacks the resources and appropriate infrastructure for implementing ICTs in education. If people need to use ICTs, they need sufficient equipment, supplies of computers and some maintenance, but most of the rural areas in Bangladesh do not have the electricity, so the computer cannot be worked. In addition, most of the cities of this country do not have 8 hours of electricity due to lack of electric supply. If a country wants to develop its infrastructure, they need a reliable electricity supply. High-speed internet connection is a prerequisite for integrating ICT into the teaching-learning situation, but in Bangladesh, their internet connection is very poor(Khan 2012, p.9). Similarly, Akpabio (cited in Mavhunduse and Holmner 2019, p.3), in Africa, the mobile phone plays an important role in communicating public agricultural information, since it can provide useful information, such as price, the best methodologies and so on, but mobile technologies cannot be suited in their farming environment because they do not have good connectivity and sufficient ICTs infrastructure. Thus, there is some evidence to show that lower education levels and poor infrastructure can affect investment and hinder economic growth.

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If one looks closely at the literature on this topic and will find some important positive factor is ICT’s capacity of which will represent ICTs how to transform poor people’s lives. The primary factor is increasing farmer productivity. For example, McFarland (cited in Mamaghani 2010, p.5) indicates that in Botswana, people use the radio frequency identification technology (RFID) which come from the Livestock Identification Trace-back Systems (LITS) project to capture each cow’s data, then those data are transformed to the central database to ensure that these farmers can obtain European Union certificate for their beef exports. The LITS are helping to ensure the beef export market security and accomplish new export orders all over the world. Meanwhile, this tracking system can cut down the cattle’s theft rate more than sixty percent. Collecting information about weather patterns and drought predictions can help farmers who live in underdeveloped countries increase their productivity in a good season. And this information can also help them in poor season. In addition, information plays an important role in improving a farmer’s livelihood. Farmers can use some traditional technologies to get some information like sowing, soils, prices, combat pests and diseases to help in their decision-making. But some changes in weather patterns, deterioration of soil conditions and infrequent climate events make farmers' decision-making processes complicatedly and affect their information needs. To provide this information is a challenge, but ICT can offer what other methods cannot. This information can improve the farmer’s productivity (Lokeswari 2016, p.2). This demonstrate that value of using ICT can help farmers to get more information then improve their productivity. Another factor is improving healthcare. Crentsil (cited in Amuomo 2017, p.3) found that in South Africa, in order to reduce the HIV/AIDS pandemic, SMS text messages are widely used to expand acceptance of HIV testing and treatment follow-up treatments, so, in developing countries, mobile devices have become the important connecting and tracking patients’ tools. Moreover, using ICT can transfer health information to poor people and using telephones as health care interventions have been shown to increase clinic attendance (O'Brien and Lazebnik 1998) and decrease the incidence of depression (Simon et al. 2004). Other studies have found that the use of the telephone is the most effective way to increase the rate of immunization (Kaplan 2006; Szilagyi et al., 2002), thereby improving people's health through the use of ICT(Ganju 2016, p.4,5). In brief, ICT can improve quality of developing countries people’s loves, it is because ICT can improve farmer productivity and healthcare.

Therefore, although some barriers to ICT for reducing poverty in developing countries, it is not to fully affect using ICT to alleviate poverty. Firstly, using ICT can help underdeveloped countries to increase people’s income. According to Lokeswari (2016, p.4), farmers can raise their products' prices, promote trading and increase their income by using cell phones to get updated relevant information. In addition, Pakistan, farmers can improve their coordination, reduce the loss of perishable crop after harvesting, improve their recognition of planting date and increase crop’s price by using cell phone to get help from extension officer or other experts. Compare to other traditional methods, ICTs are providing highly useful information in time and advising farmers in low price. So, it can increase farmer’s income (Mavhunduse and Holmner 2019, p.4) secondly, one research about the impact of mobile communication services on health system indicates that communication services play an important role in health system. ICT provide health information to the public, and using this information can increase life expectancy at birth, health expenditure for one person and health expenditure (as a percentage of GDP), and also reduced infant mortality. When communication services are increased by one unit (per 100 residents), the life expectancy at birth will increase by thirty percent and infant death rate will drop to about fifty percent (Mimbi 2015, p.10,11,12). Similarly, poor people can get health information from ICT, and some studies have shown that ICT can have some impact on the health of developing countries. Deloitte pointed out that offering Internet access can reduce child mortality to seven percent and save 5,000 children through some extension information about best practice during pregnancy (Ganju 2016, p.4). Although people's low level of education is an obstacle to reducing poverty through ICT, there are some methods to combat it. According to Ganju (2016, p.4), the use of ICT ensures to deliver information to some areas that may not have opportunities to be educated. Now, by using massive open online courses (MOOCs), students can access information that was used to be hard to obtain. some students do not have computer science courses in their high school, but they can study and pass advanced elective courses by watching videos on the Internet. MOOCs has made a fifteen years old Mongolian boy achieve a very good mark at Circuits and Electronics MITMOOC (specialized for the second year of college) and also taught him some scientific techniques that has not usually studied in Mongolian high school. Deloitte argued that by promoting knowledge transformation, 640 million children can use cost-effective learning tools and resources through extended internet connection. According to Mamaghani (2010, p.4), Cisco's Network Academy program in Africa is working to solve many education and employment opportunities problems of African women. Designing this program aims to teach students how to install, maintain and troubleshoot network problems. This example illustrates in underdeveloped countries, their labor force's technique knowledge can be improved by education-based projects. Once their labor forces get these skills, they can work with local and global e-commerce economies to create jobs and build business models. Moreover, in 1995, the world bank established a satellite-based distance education project which called African Virtual University (AVU), it aims to use modern information technology to increase access to education resources of whole South Saharan Africa (SSA). In SSA countries, emergency education and economic development issues can be solved through the use of efficient and cost-effective solutions that provided by information technology. AVU has the ability to attract more students and help to deal with the inadequacy of funding, no more teachers and insufficient infrastructure problems that are the barriers to receive higher education for most students in SSA (Mamaghani St. John Fisher College 2010, p,4). In 2015, the Jamaican Universal Service Fund began to impose tariffs on telecommunications terminating in the Island (GOJ, 2006). The fund is used to provide funds for the e-Learning Project to ensure access to the Internet through schools and libraries and Post offices as community access points (Brown 2011, p.7). Although people have low level of education and the government cannot provide infrastructure, this is an obstacle to reduce poverty with ICT, the increase in farmers' income and the health level of the country still have some positive impact on the use of ICT to reduce poverty in developing countries, and it can be argued that ICT is an effective way to reduce poverty in developing countries.

In conclusion, ICTs are an effective way to reduce poverty in developing countries, while there are some barriers to use ICT for poverty reduction such as low education level and insufficient infrastructure, there are often associated with ICT can improve education level and build more infrastructure. Moreover, improve people’s income and national health level, to contrasting attitudes which can make ICT become an effective way to alleviate poverty in developing countries. Therefore, people need to pay more attention on study how to use ICT and government must put more emphasis on develop ICT like give some award to ICT inventor and so on.

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ICTs as an Effective Way to Alleviate Poverty in Developing Countries. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/icts-as-an-effective-way-to-alleviate-poverty-in-developing-countries/
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