October 21, 2010
Jason Hahn describes his initial impressions of Uganda upon his return to the United States. Jason is the Information and Communication Technology Innovation (ICTI) Development Manager at Grameen Foundation. The ICTI team develops, tests and advances mobile phone products and services in Uganda, Indonesia, and Ghana to improve health care, farming, banking, and more. This is the first part of a two-part blog series on "A Day in the Life of a Community Knowledge Worker”
I recently returned to Seattle from visiting our Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) program in Uganda. This program is building a network of trusted information providers, called Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs), throughout rural Uganda who use smart phones to deliver agricultural information to farmers in their villages. While I was familiar with the program from PowerPoint, meetings, and reading reports, I did not have a first hand appreciation for the work of a CKW. From my time as a Peace Corps volunteer, I knew there could be a big difference between what Headquarters thought was happening and what was really happening at the grassroots level. To see for myself, I headed out to the village of Kewel in the Kapchorwa region of Eastern Uganda to spend two days with Esther Kibet, one of our CKWs. While there, I experienced first hand the positive effects the CKW program was having and also saw a few different ways we can improve.
As we approached Kewel, we began rising into the foothills of Mt. Elgon, one of Uganda's highest mountains. It was picturesque to see these hills, with the tops hidden in fog, rise from the plains as we approached. The cooler climate makes this location ideal for growing coffee, as I soon discovered. After picking up Edward Chelangat, our hard working field officer in Kapchorwa town, we headed to Kewel where I was warmly welcomed by Esther. The Kapchorwa region is known as the land of friendly people, and Esther certainly embodied that charisma. Kewel, a very small village, is located on a dirt road several kilometers off the main road, which runs through the region. It is a village of hard working farmers who are growing, among other things, the coffee that many of us enjoy on a daily basis.
Be sure to read Part 2 of "A Day In the life of a Community Knowledge Worker." Jason explains further how cell phones are empowering farmers in rural Uganda.