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138

OPEC bulletin 11/17

broadband: it’simportantfromanetworkingpointofview.

Communication apps have the potential to make a big

difference in rural communities, and they’re important to

increase access to information. At a community level, the

use of cheap and easy-to-operate technology can make

a big difference. Drones, for example, can improve the

understanding of landborders, titling issues, topography

and more.

Productivity

Access to simple technology and lowmaintenance equip-

ment is important: if it’s too difficult tomaintain, commu-

nities will be quickly back to square one. It’s very easy to

double productivity in some cases.Today, we’ve returned

fromEthiopiawherewe financedasmall, unsophisticated

irrigation project. Sometimes, just building simple chan-

nels to bring water from the highlands to the lowlands

can double or triple production, and

therefore income.

There is desperate need to

improve rural infrastructure. I’mpas-

sionateaboutthisbecauseIwasborn

and raised in a small village in the

middle of Togo. My family produced

cotton. When you’ve loaded a car or

a truckwith produce and there is just

one road out of the village — and it’s

not even a proper road — you can

struggle. Sometimes we’d be stuck

for days, untiltherewasenoughman-

power to dig us out.

I’ve lived through that. It’s not a

complaint, but what I do find unac-

ceptable is that 50 years later, things

are still the same, or worse in some

cases. I’m not being pessimistic.

Many things have improved mark-

edly. But when I see rural youth

today — young boys and young girls

— I’m reminded of myself all those

years ago. I feel like there’s some unfinished business.

So that’s where my drive comes from.

Notice that I talk about boys and girls. Gender

equality is a big part of the answer. In Uganda, I met

an interesting woman. I meet so many of them. Women

spend on their families — on improving health and

education. The Ugandan woman I mention, she began

raising chickens by borrowing money from one of our

saving and loan associations. She moved on to keep-

ing goats and cows. Before long, she began importing

medicine from the city and opened a pharmacy. And

when she realized water was becoming short in her

village, she borrowed money to construct a new bore-

hole, 40 or 50 metres deep.

Things are happening on the ground: the challenge is

how to scale it all up. IFAD is small and agile. We need to

show our major resource providers that we can do more

— not through words but through actions.”

Women and children fill

water jugs from a central

filling point in Ethiopia.

Shutterstock