||"Shalala Oliver Sepiso" [ profile ]
Shalala's Answers to Week 3 Questions
Aug 14th, 2007 - 03:25:42
This is Shalala Oliver Sepiso from Zambia and I'm the Executive Director of
Rescue Mission Zambia and The National Coordinator of the YouthIT,
Entrepreneurship and HIV/AIDS Project that ended in December 2006 after
running for one year.
Apologies for being late this week. I am attending a myriad meetings taking
place in Lusaka around the SADC Summit which has brought more than 13
countries to my city.
From the Zambian perspectives and indeed my own perspectives:
How where the following issues addressed using ICTs?*
In April 2005, Zambia became the first country in Africa to Electronic
Medical Record (EMR) system, the Continuity of Care Patient Tracking
System.This is particularly important for people on antiretroviral
treatment. The system allows health care workers to carefully monitor
patient medications and emerging drug resistance. This close patient
tracking helps to control the number of patients who must switch from first-
to second-line drugs. In so doing, the EMR system also helps to control
expenses associated with second-line regimens. This system uses a Smart Card
as part of the system. This EMR system, which is supported by the PEPFAR, is
the product of collaboration between the Zambian Ministry of Health and the
With the Smart Card-EMR service, health care workers can access up-to-date
medical information on their patients and compile end-of-month reports much
more quickly than they could with paper records. The health workers
participated in trainings on the use of the EMR system and are proud of her
ability to use the new technology to care for her patients.
USE of CD ROM technology to package, disseminate and deliver HIV/AIDS
information and knowledge.
AIDS is killing us and without knowledge development is impossible. Youth
FAD provides low cost ICT tools to fight AIDS. Books are fragile, cumbersome
and expensive. The Internet does not reach the whole of Zambia. The solution
is CD ROMs. A 25g CD ROM can contain 3 000 or more books and other media, an
equivalent of 160 000 pages, 360 kg and US $ 20 000 in terms of hard copy
books. An average four year University degree involves the integration of 16
000 pages. This implies a CD ROM potentially contains information worth 16
university degrees. A CD ROM can be used all over Zambia as long as
electricity exists and a computer can be rigged up.
The HIV/AIDS scenario in Zambia needs no introduction; it is critical and it
needs major surgery. As the country faces serious socio-economic problems,
which include poverty, the decline in health, education and other basic
services, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has become one of the leading killers in
Zambia for children and young people. This age group comprises the most
promising source of essential citizens and workforce. This calls for not
only consistent fighting but novel ways of fighting the disease too.
*Youth Fighting AIDS Digitally (Youth FAD) * is a project to nurture,
promote and organise children and young people in Zambia on matters of using
Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to fight one of mankind's
biggest challenges of the moment. This project therefore does not only seek
to save the youth from dying out from the dreaded, deadly disease but it
also seeks to utilise the energy, ingenuity and ubiquity of children and
young people in the country to fight the disease. Children and Youth are not
only the hardest-hit group in Zambia in relation to AIDS but they are a
large chunk of the nation. They also constitute the most dynamic and
responsive age group. Considering that many campaigns in the fight against
AIDS exist, some effective others not, new ways of fighting the disease are
needed. This project brings a new way of fighting the disease in Zambia.
ICTs are a growing phenomenon in Zambia and riding on them means we shall
make this way of fighting AIDS grow with the industry. And since young
people love ICTs and music, their attention shall be caught by this project.
Like its name, the project is taking advantage of youth fads.
Firstly the project consists of making empowering tools like a multi-media,
multi-lingual CD-ROM and the construction and maintenance of a similar
website both of which will inform, inspire and involve children and young
people in the fight against the pandemic. These tools shall be teaching aids
so that those who need info to administer HIV/AIDS campaigns or lessons
shall be able to get the needed info.
Secondly the project will train youth leaders, caregivers, school teachers
and other leaders on how to use the CD ROM, website and tapes wherever and
whenever possible. Where we cannot go the CD ROM and tapes shall be
accompanied by a training manual printed by the project team. This will all
be made user friendly. The training shall be done through four quarterly
workshops where youth leaders, caregivers and teachers shall be trained on
how to use the DC ROM hoping that in turn they shall go into the their
localities and teach others. Furthermore, we shall conduct field visits into
the project area where we will hold music shows coupled with power-point
presentations from the CD ROM with messages on HIV/AIDS and other related
The project also addresses the following problems:
*i) Lack of organized in-country communication *– effort on HIV/AIDS in
Zambia, especially by children and young people is there and quite visible
to the critic's eye but it is fragmented, often uninformed by others'
practice, sometimes unconnected to a bigger global picture, unable to
leverage local and foreign resources and unable to find moral and
*ii) Lack of continuity *– children and youth, by definition, is a
transitory demographic. As young people gain experience and move into
adulthood, they often take their valuable experiences with them, leaving
others to relearn the lessons of the past.
*iii) Lack of participation in decision-making * – children and youth are
rarely involved in major policy development, meaning youth lack the
framework, support and legitimacy required for sustained action, and policy
implementation lacks buy-in from this key grassroots constituency.
The project addresses these deficiencies, recognizing and capitalizing upon
children and young people - a vital stakeholder in creating a more inclusive
society in Zambia. The website and the CD ROM where possible, as means of
communication for Zambian children and young people and sources of vital and
relevant info, shall feature news, people, events and online discussion as
well as providing a resource bank of and for youth organizations working on
the HIV/AIDS issues. They will also include project profiles, including
descriptions, photos, news, supporters, etc. The portal shall be a conduit
by which young people shall access resources to enable them to take local
action on local problems and through which they shall be recognised. It will
consolidate efforts by the media, youth groups, government and private
sector so as to maximise on available resources. The CD ROM shall be
interactive with the website and will act like the website only it will be
used mainly where there is no connectivity. The CD ROM and website shall
be mirrors to the Zambian children and youth movement so they can learn from
the best practices among their activities within the country.
The project also seeks to find ways to make existing children and youth
leaders, caregivers and teachers more effective and to rapidly involve more
children and youth in such activities. If we take up the challenge of
networking and engaging these young innovators, they will continue to act as
development champions and focal points within their communities – leading to
a more equitable, connected, and inclusive Zambia that shall handle the
HIV/AIDS pandemic more effectively. Over the years the portal and tapes
shall have an archive and database that will benefit latter children and
youth in Zambia hence discontinuing the loss of institutional memory once
these young leaders grow.
AIDSWEB: African Youth Using Information Technology To Fight HIV/AIDS
*Development Issues:* HIV/AIDS, Youth, Technology.
Launched in 1998, the
was an effort on the part of the World Bank Institute's ICT for
Education programme (formerly the World Links for Development Program) to
offer secondary-school students training and access to technology, accurate
information about HIV/AIDS, and guidance in initiating and sustaining action
to combat the disease through national and cross-national partnerships. The
project, which addresses 13- to 18-year olds in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya,
South Africa, Uganda, the USA, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, is designed to
complement existing Ministry of Education and NGO HIV/AIDS education
The use of Information and communications technologies (ICT) complements
other Information Education and Communications (IEC) campaigns designed to
reach youth. The same technology resources -- e-mail, CD-ROMs, listserves,
and the World Wide Web -- that can link HIV/AIDS educators and activists
around the world, also holds great promise for reaching youth, who typically
embrace the use of the technology for entertainment, learning and
communication when given access to these resources.
Face-to-face workshops, e-mail, websites, videoconferences and CD-ROMs to
capture and distribute project resources and exchange.
Results as of March 2003, approximately 70 schools, 1000 youth, 100 teachers
and 5 HIV/AIDS NGOs had directly participated in AIDSWEB project activities
*Summary of ICT Initiatives*
Many of AIDSWEB's educational and peer-based activities involve use of ICTs.
Once signed up to participate, each student and teacher filled out an online
introductory questionnaire, which was also used by the project facilitator -
a reproductive health consultant - as a pre-test. Then participants worked
through five online educational goal activities ( i.e., Cultural Exchange,
Basic Facts of HIV/AIDS, the Importance of HIV/AIDS, the Challenge of HIV
Prevention, and Social Action) that allowed them to explore myths and
misunderstandings, conduct research, and discuss how they could prevent HIV
in their own lives and communities
Community action was encouraged through the Social Action component of the
programme. Students were guided in developing an HIV/AIDS action plan,
which included working with Parent-Teacher Associations, establishing
income-generating projects for peers, and inviting testimonies from people
living with HIV/AIDS.
The project also worked to increase the quantity and quality of HIV/AIDS
educational materials in schools. A CD-ROM with HIV/AIDS-related information
drawn from existing online material was produced for schools with slow or no
Internet connections. In addition, efforts were made to help adapt locally
produced print-based HIV/AIDS educational material for electronic
dissemination via CD-ROM and the AIDSWEB site. Training materials designed
to integrate computer and Internet literacy training material with HIV/AIDS
examples were delivered by ICT for Education-trained teachers to
HIV/AIDS-oriented NGOs and peer educators accessing the school-based
telecentres in the after-school hours.
AIDSWEB worked to enhance links between schools and community NGOS working
on HIV/AIDS, and to help students make communication-based connections for
future action. For example, a partnership with a Zimbabwean NGO called the
Training and Research Support Center (TARSC) made available an adolescent
reproductive health activity pack, "Auntie
features 30 question and answer cards based on the letters sent to
magazines and radio helplines. In addition, teachers and students at West
African Secondary School in Ghana linked up with AIDS Action Ghana, a
national NGO, to train peer educators.
The programme found ways to send teachers, students, and others to relevant
conferences. For instance, 30 teachers, NGO, and government project
participants attended an HIV/AIDS Materials Review Workshop in Cape Town,
South Africa, in July 2001. AIDSWEB also hosted its own conferences. In
October 2002, an international workshop was held to explore the role of ICT
in HIV/AIDS prevention activities. Follow-up activities, like development of
pilot projects for online counselling, took place at the local level.
Three-quarters of the 400 ICT for Education Program Internet Learning
Centers in Africa are located outside of capital cities. In order to
continue to serve rural youth, new technologies such as mobile van
telecentres and the use of satellite technology for connecting rural schools
with high-speed Internet connectivity are being pilot-tested. Teachers who
have participated in the project report that it has raised awareness of
HIV/AIDS issues among their students, enhanced research skills, helped the
integration of HIV/AIDS education into school curricula, and helped
emphasise the role of the teacher as a facilitator. At its peak
AIDSWEB served approximately 500 youth in 70 schools in 8 African countries.
An independently administered survey and a series of interviews in 2002
culminated in a evaluation that noted that:
- *Access had improved, though more so for boys* - Students who were
not in the programme were almost 6 times more likely to have less than 1
hour of computer access in the previous month. In the intervention group,
51% reported having more than 4 hours of computer access in the previous
month compared to 23% in the control group. AIDSWEB enabled computer and
Internet access for a greater percentage of boys than girls. 2% of the
boys in AIDSWEB schools had no access to the computer, as compared to 30% of
boys in non-participant schools. 11% of girls in the AIDSWEB programme had
no computer access, as compared to 38% of girls in non-participant schools.
- *Positive Knowledge shifts occurred* - AIDSWEB students were almost
twice as likely to correctly identify all 4 methods of AIDS prevention and
transmission. These results were consistent across most countries.
- *Community practices improved* - 63% in the control group and 85% of
the intervention group responded that they helped their communities by
sharing information about HIV/AIDS with family, friends, and/or health
workers about HIV/AIDS; volunteering with local organisations or health
clinics/hospitals; or developing a social action plan. AIDSWEB students were
more than twice as likely to develop social action plans.
The independent survey evaluation of the project in 2002 also showed that
students appreciated the international exchange, the knowledge gained, and
the youth involvement they experienced through AIDSWEB; teachers applauded
the project both for its contribution to HIV/AIDS response and for its
innovation and self-help strategy through technology; and most importantly,
survey results showed that AIDSWEB students were almost twice as likely to
identify correctly all four methods of AIDS prevention and transmission as
those who were not participating in the project.
*Partners: *ICT for Education (part of the World Bank Institute), World
Links, iEARN, Schools Online, Education Development Center, Knowledge
Economy (part of the World Bank), SchoolNet Uganda, The United Negro College
Fund's Specials Projects programme, US Department of State's Bureau of
Educational Cultural Affairs. AIDSWEB involved schools in Ghana, South
Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe; Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, the US, and Zambia.
Microsoft contributed software to participating countries/schools.
The AIDSWEB project built upon the attention to and investment in
technological investments by providing a multisectoral and multimedia
approach to complement ongoing international, government and locally-driven
HIV/AIDS educational awareness raising and prevention campaigns.
Due to my specialisation in HIV/AIDS and ICTs, I have little experiences in
the other areas. However, I will submit something under 11 as well. So 2 to
10 are skipped.
11. Other health/ASRH issues, including Poverty Reduction (please
12. Which of the above areas was most difficult to address?
The organisation I am working for and indeed myself are more specialised in
ICts and HIV/AIDS and so I was not able to compare with the other areas of
the application of ICTs in Health.
13. What were the challenges you faced yourself or heard about from other
young people with regards to ICTs?
Challenges faced by the Youth
There are some related challenges which need addressing to ensure meaningful
youth participation in ICT for Health processes and to reduce youth apathy.
*Lack of Mainstream Support: *Youth-led programs are rarely afforded the
funding or recognition required to implement or replicate in a substantial
or sustained manner.**
*Lack of Communication and Coordination: *Youth effort is fragmented, often
uninformed by others' practice, unconnected to a bigger picture, unable to
leverage resources, and find moral and inspirational support. If we network
and engage these young innovators, they will continue to act as development
champions and focal points within their communities – leading to a more
equitable, connected, and inclusive world.**
*Lack of continuity Youth by definition, is a transitory demographic.* As
young people gain experience and move into adulthood, they often take their
valuable experiences with them, leaving others to relearn the lessons of the
past. This needs addressing so there is no 'reinventing the wheel'.**
*Lack of Capacity-Building: *Leadership among young people; others believe
that there is little capacity-building and there shall be a leadership
vacuum, the problem however is that there are no placements of young people
in meaningful leadership as no places are created specifically for young
Challenges Non-Profits face in ICTs for Health Interventions:
Many non-profits and non-profit networks in Zambia are beginning to
recognize the value of information and communication technologies (ICTs),
but lack the funding and resources necessary to harness the opportunities
they offer. As a result, there is need to help to incubate and implement ICT
capacity-building structures that harness and mobilize community skills and
resources. These programs give collaborative groups (and individual
non-profits) the power to better implement technology as a strategic,
*"The new technologies that are changing our world are not a panacea or a
magic bullet. But they are without doubt enormously powerful tools for
development. They create jobs. They are transforming education, healthcare,
commerce, politics and more. They can help in the delivery of humanitarian
assistance and even contribute to peace and security."*
(Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, November 2001)
Is technology helpful in the work of non-governmental organizations? Is Free
and Open Source Software better than Licensed software?
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) present Zambia with a
vehicle for leapfrogging the development process. ICTs enable people to do
things better and faster than has been possible before. Through technology,
Zambia can achieve rapid industrialization, economic development and
progress. When properly harnessed, ICTs can result in greater efficiency and
optimum utilization of time and resources.
Further, apart from management and administration problems, organizations in
Zambia face communication problems and indeed technological problems. The
following common needs have been noted by the eRiding project as ICT
challenges faced by non-profits in Zambia:
- *Lack of awareness.* Most organisations are not aware of technology
solutions or information resources that can provide increased efficiency,
cost savings or other operational benefits to their work even where they
exist. They are also unaware of productivity advantages offered by tools
they already have.
- *Lack of infrastructure.* Most of the organisations do not have
adequate technology infrastructure in place, and do not know how to
acquire/budget for it. Often the current hardware and software is outdated
or not operational.
- *No budgeting for technology.* Most of these organisations do not
budget or fund raise for technology in advance, which means that technology
expenditure becomes an unpleasant surprise, taking money away from other
- *Lack of capacity.* The employees and volunteers of the
organisations do not have the capacity to use the technology available.
Those with basic computer skills do not optimally use them due to lack of
relevant training and support.
- *Lack of quality reporting.* All organisations need to be
responsible to government, donors or other stakeholders, and a major
component of this is compiling periodic reports of their operations. These
reports are generally done by hand, and become a great administrative
burden. Often the data communicated is inaccurate and of limited value.
- *Reactive rather than proactive approach to technology*. There is
usually very little strategic, mission-focused analysis of what technology
is needed and how future objectives and strategy factor into current
decisions. In addition, related technology needs such as training and
maintenance are often ignored, which results in many unforeseen expenses.
Shalala Oliver Sepiso
Project Manager - Zambian NGOs eRiding Project
Former National Coordinator - YouthIT, Entrepreneurship and HIV/AIDS Project
(Cell) +260 977 930 921
(Fax) +260 211 25352
ssepiso (at) gmail.com
ssepiso (at) yahoo.co.uk