ICT in Rural empowerment, On demand provision of reliable, timely and actionable information overcoming the literacy barriers
A rural citizen is an information starved. Keeping in mind the literacy levels of rural population, mobile voice is the most powerful channel to communicate and engage with leveraging Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for the broadcasting of information in audio form.
Typically most of the NGO’s have 2 clear objectives for any rural engagement program :
- Empower community groups especially women & marginalized section of society
- Ensure accountability & transparency in governance
Traditionally ICT program’s and initiative’s to connect with the rural population in India have typically faced the following challenge:
- Low level of literacy
- Limited ownership of smart phones, largely low value features phones
- Non-availability or poor quality of internet
- Low % of answered calls due to phone not being charged/electricity supply being erratic
- Making the information viral/self-spreading
- Ability to communicate with large population at the same time in their regional language/dialects
Solution using ICT :
A single number based voice solution built on a cloud telephony platform for broadcasting pre-recorded automated voice calls, people who are unable to receive the call, can call back on the same number which functions as a missed call number and automatically generates an outbound voice call in the specific dialect with the voice communication for the day.
The system architect can be designed such that an audio library is created and the calling/called person has the option of listening to previous audio messages.
The uniqueness lies in having a single number for communication which functions both as a outgoing number and a missed call number resulting in much higher contacts, zero cost to the target group and the power of referrals which helps in creating awareness about the single number amongst the target group.
Every person who calls up the number & is not in the existing database has the option to choose the Block/District for which they would like to register themselves and subsequently will be part of the scheduled information dissemination program, the number addition to the specific Block/District is automatic and requires no manual intervention.
To reinforce the number and to help make the number viral, people are encouraged to share the number with their acquaintances and each call is followed-up by an automatic SMS communication.
The target group need to only have any basic feature phone which can receive and make calls.
The program can help in engaging, partnering and winning the trust by building a one to one connect in the targeted geography by providing reliable, timely and actionable information overcoming the literacy & technology barriers.
- Timely notifications ensure higher participation of people in rural initiatives such as gram sabha’s.
- Increased participation in government organized events – disability camps, immunization program’s etc
- Information dissemination in partnership with Government departments such as Meghdhanush programme, field camps by different government departments etc
- UID implementation drive, data collected using IVRS for identifying villages having problems related to non-issuance of UID etc
- Information sharing-citizens in turn also forward and share information to their acquaintances for whom the information is relevant and useful.
- Citizens become more aware and can be expected to start demanding benefits of various public services and schemes.