Catholic Relief Services’ 5th ICT4D Conference To Highlight Mobile Technologies that Aid the Poor

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International development agencies like Catholic Relief Services are increasingly turning to information communications technology, like mobile phones, iPods and GPS, to help us carry out our mission to fight global poverty.

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We have the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world through the use of technology.

Humanitarian aid workers and information technology experts will meet next week in Accra, Ghana to exchange the latest innovations in using mobile phones and other communication tools to fight poverty around the world at the 5th annual ICT4D Conference, sponsored by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

The conference, with the theme; “Mobile Technologies that Empower Vulnerable Communities”, will highlight the growing field of information technology for development (ICT4D).

It will be held at the Alisa Hotel from March 19 to 21 and the participants include representatives of NGOs, donors, the government and information technology experts.

Over the past few years, the CRS has emerged as a leader in the field of ICT4D. The agency has found that information and communications technology gives staff the means to be more efficient in their work. It provides data CRS needs to improve the impact of its projects — even as the agency is carrying them out.

It also provides the means to reach more people and empower impoverished people with information and tools that they themselves can use to improve their livelihoods and quality of life.

“We have the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world through the use of technology by empowering people with access to beneficial information and services never before within their reach,” said Carol Bothwell, Chief Knowledge Officer for CRS.

CRS programs across sectors have started taking advantage of this technology to track plant pests and diseases, share crop production and marketing information, improve literacy, monitor patient adherence to HIV and AIDS treatment, rapidly assess needs during emergency response efforts and provide distance learning opportunities for community workers on a scale not possible in the past.

Lisa Washington-Sow, CRS Ghana Country Representative, said, “A strong partnership between governments, technology companies, and NGOs will help us seize this opportunity. The Ghana conference creates a forum for exploring the impact such partnerships are having on relief and development work around the world.”

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