My View

ICTs for mountain development (ICT4MD)
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are becoming an important factor in development programmes. They are a powerful enabler and support tool in such areas as education, governance, agriculture, environment, and employment opportunities. My view expressed here focuses on including ICT into such areas and the role of ICT in generating and delivering useful information materials to mountain communities. This short text presents a view of the linkage between ICT and the ICIMOD’s mission to help mountain people to overcome economic, physical and social vulnerabilities.

ICT can help mountain people overcome economic vulnerability in a variety of ways. Through new business models and marketing, ICT can help mountain people expand their markets by providing access to market information. Such market information can cover how markets operate, including pricing and consumer preferences on a variety of products – from medicinal and aromatic plant products to other niche products of mountains. A trader can reduce the risk of overstocking by using ICTs to confirm supply and demand. ICT can also play a significant role in the other direction, by promoting mountain tourism-related products in non-local markets.

When it comes to overcoming physical vulnerability, ICT can reduce the risk of disasters by raising the degree of awareness on how best to manage such situations. ICTs offer decision-makers the opportunity to prepare by using monitoring, modeling, and forecasting techniques, and by facilitating data sharing across communities. For example, ICT can bring timely information on floods to people living downstream, and help them avert disaster. The timely exchange of data and the communication which ICT enables can save lives and property.


ICTs can also be powerful tools for social change and can contribute to empowering marginalized communities. Something as simple as a communication facility like community telecentre can empower women to create small businesses. Giving voice to the poor and helping them access and use knowledge is important in social context, e.g. through participation in electronic forums. Electronic networking can strengthen the ties between communities and organizations and create new spaces for trust, cooperation and social bonding.

Nonetheless, to exploit benefits from ICTs, mountain communities also need a substantial presence of ICT infrastructure, connectivity, and capacity and skills to use ICT. In this respect, the advent of new wireless technologies looks promising for mountain areas. But infrastructure, connectivity and capacity must also be complemented by the right content, which is perhaps the most critical element of ICT in mountain development. Vulnerabilities can be converted to security only when mountain communities have access to useful content. Quite often, this means adapting the form of the content: using local languages, etc. as well as making the content as relevant and that which translate into practice as possible: market information, early warnings, new methods and technologies, better ways of managing natural resources, education opportunities etc. Introduction of ICT in development programmes can create new opportunities for identifying and delivering useful knowledge for mountain development. The programmes should consider the use of ICT in their specific contexts.
Sushil Pandey

News

19-23 June 2006: ICIMOD participated in the IASCP Conference
A 7-member ICIMOD delegation attended the 11th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP), with the theme 'Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities'. It was held from 19-23 June 2006, at the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) in the town of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. The ICIMOD team presented six papers, where four of these were included in a special panel - Commons in Himalaya. For more details please visit the conference website at http://www.iascp.org/bali/iascp06.html. IASCP will now be known as the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC).
Sanjeev Bhuchar
5 June 2006: ICIMOD observed the World Environment Day 2006 Deserts and Desertification, Donít Desert Drylands!
To mark the World Environment Day 2006 on 5 June 2006, ICIMOD organised a half-day programme at its Headquarters, and took part in the main day programme organised by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MoEST) and the Government of Nepal at the Birenda International Convention Centre.

At the main day function the Honorable Minister of State for Environment, Science and Technology, Mr. Man Bahadur Biswakarma launched a joint publication by the Asian Development Bank and ICIMOD, ‘Environment Assessment of Nepal - Emerging Issues and Challenges’. The book ocused on environment and conflict, environment and trade and the importance of environmental information. ICIMOD also helped launch a portal called ‘Conservation Portal for Sharing Information on Biodiversity in Nepal’, a joint initiative of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, IUCN-Nepal and ICIMOD. The portal features various aspects of Biodiversity in Nepal and is a new tool sharing information on biodiversity conservation.

At Headquarters, the programme comprised of a special presentation by Dr. Andreas Schild on ‘Development Issues in Afghanistan’ where he shared with us his experiences of working in Afghanistan as Team leader at the National Solidarity Programme (NSP). He also spoke about how ICIMOD could help contribute to the development of Afghanistan. Currently he is as one of the members of the ICIMOD Quinquennial Review Team.

Mountain Forum and ICIMOD also organised a 'digital' Photo Contest on the theme of 'Deserts and Desertification in High Altitude Areas' from 27 April to 29 May. A total of 37 participants from all over the world submitted some 132 photographs depicting outstanding mountain deserts landscape, flora and fauna, people and culture. Please see our photo gallery at < http://www.mtnforum.org/apmn/wed2006-dpc/index.php>. A panel of judges have selected the winning entries and they are Mr. Karl Schuler’s entry "Boon and Bane of Water" for the ICIMOD ‘Himalayan’ prize and Dr. Jutta U Kern's entry "Harvesting the High Desert" for the "Mountain Forum Global Prize". The winners will receive a thangka painting and a certificate each.

Bidya Banmali, Basanta Shrestha and Birendra Bajracharya from MENRIS briefed us on the newly launched joint ADB-ICIMOD book as well as on the Mountain Environment Knowledge Hub Initiative and the Conservation Portal of Nepal.
Nira Gurung
ICIMOD Website
ICIMOD is revamping its current website (www.icimod.org) giving it a new look and approach, so that it would become more usable and would attract potential users providing them information in a concise and efficient way. The work is in progress with discussions continuing with various stakeholders, in-house as well as partners, to obtain all the necessary feedback and input, both in terms of content and structure. Through this eNews, we also look forward for your valuable suggestions and guidance for its continuous augmentation and improvement. The plan is to launch the revamped website during first week of July, as first phase of development.

Related to web presence, the ICIMOD Web team is also standardising its websites, of which there are 12 currently, and has come up now with having common minimum standard elements on each of the websites along with their proper placements so that these would provide a much needed common look and feel, a unified navigational structure, consistent interface, and visual appeal across diverse sites. It is expected that these steps would increase usability of sites and takes into account the needs of both the user and ICIMOD. Moreover, a standard naming of sites has been put into place for websites to give brand and belongingness to ICIMOD.
Sushil Pandey
31 May 2006: Census Indicators 2001 and Trends of Himachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh Agricultural Systems Information Files released in India
Publications on Mapping Census Indicators 2001 and Trends of Himachal Pradesh, India and Himachal Pradesh Agricultural Systems Information Files (HASIF) were released by the Chief Guest, H. E. The Governor of Himachal Pradesh during the policy workshop on ‘Application of Space Technology for Monitoring Natural Resources, Climate Change and Social Development’, on 31 May 2006 in Shimla, India. These publications are the outcome of the collaboration between ICIMOD and the Centre for Geo-informatics Research and Training (CenGIS) of the CSK Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University, Palampur, India and ICIMOD. Dr. Madhav Karki, Basanta Shrestha, Sushil Pradhan and Pradeep Mool attended the workshop from ICIMOD.
Sushil Pradhan
25 May 2006: PARDYP's Dissemination Workshop
People and Resource Dynamics Project (PARDYP) organised a day-long dissemination workshop at Dhulikhel, the district headquarter of the Kavrepalanchowk district on 25 May 2006 to share lessons learned from the two watersheds in Nepal. There were 41 participants from the Government District Line Agencies, Non-governmental organisations, farmers and local University working with the natural resource management sector.

PARDYP is a regional Interdisciplinary Research Programme for watershed development primarily concerned with natural resource dynamics, degradation process and its effect on livelihood. The project covers China, India, Nepal and Pakistan. A total of five watersheds were included in PARDYP: two in Nepal namely Jhikhu and Yarsha Kholas, India’a Bheta Gad Garur Ganga, Pakistan’s Hilkot-Sharkul and Xi Zhuang in China,

Since October 1996, PARDYP completed three phases, each lasting of three years, carrying out various studies on technological options, approaches and processes.
Keshar Sthapit
22 - 23 May 2006: Access and Benefit Sharing From Genetic Resources
From 22 to 23 May 2006 a state-level Workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of genetic resources was held in Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, North east India, in collaboration with the Environment and Forest Department Government of Mizoram, the Department of Forest ecology, Biodiversity and Environmental Science of Mizoram University and ICIMOD. The two-day workshop coincided with the International Biodiversity day and was chaired by Mr. Haukhuma Hauzel, Chief Secretary, and inaugurated by Dr. R. Lalthangliana, Hon. Minister for Environment and Forest, Govt. of Mizoram. The keynote address was given by Dr. Eklabya Sharma on behalf of ICIMOD. Over 70 people including scientists, protected area authorities and local community representatives, lawyers and women representatives and media personnels participated in the workshop. As the first initiative of ABS project, it raised awareness among policy makers about the emerging ABS issues and how to implement ABS of ABS in the state.

A total of 21 presentations presented different aspects of an ABS regime. Some of the issues discussed were access and benefit sharing about community conserved areas, benefit sharing from common genetic resources between states and neighboring countries, the status of provincial regulatory frame work for facilitated access and benefit sharing and it's future, women in genetic resources conservation, and the status of benefit sharing.
Krishna Prasad Oli
12-15 May 2006: International Rangeland Co-Management Workshop Held in China
ICIMOD Co-organised the International Rangeland Co-management Workshop from 12-15 May 2006 in Shangri-La County, Yunnan, China, in partnership with China's Institute of Animal Science, Center for Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge, and the International Livestock Research Institute.

A total of 84 participants from 5 countries attended the workshop, with the majority of Chinese people from the ministry of agriculture, various levels of animal husbandry bureau, research institutions and non-governmental organisations. Beside presentations on the status rangeland management and co-management practices, the workshop discussed conditions and constraints, as well as break-throughs for implementing the co-management of rangeland in a focal context of China.

Many participants, especially those from the Chinese government agencies, confessed that they had known little about co-management before the workshop. By the end of the workshop, however, the consensus was reached that co-management is an imperative for the sustainable use of rangeland resources. The workshop suggested legal support for co-management.
Yan Zhaoli
8 May 2006: A Bhutanese perspective on the UN Decade of Indigenous Peoples
As part of a ten country assessment of the First UN Decade of Indigenous Peoples undertaken by ICIMOD in partnership with the Tebtebba Foundation in the Philippines, a day- long workshop was organised in Thimphu on May 8th. Hosted at the Institute for Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan’s country report was presented and discussed in the workshop with a range of participants from the government, UN agencies and other donors. Participants debated the validity of the concept of indigenous people in the context of Bhutan and the issues facing disadvantaged communities.
Radhika Gupta
10 April 2006: LGED together with ICIMOD launches the Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) Social Indicators
Mr. Khan M Ibrahim Hossain, Secretary, Ministry of CHT launched a publication on 'Mapping Chittagong Hill Tracts Census Indicators 2001 & Trends' at the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED)'s in Dhaka on 10 April 2006. This publication is the outcome of a collaboration between Geographical Information System Unit, LGED, Bangladesh and ICIMOD, which aimed to develop an atlas of socio-economic indicators of the CHT region. The organisations mapped Upazila-wise using 2001 census data to aid policy makers, development practitioner and the public at large. Dr. Gabriel Campbell, Dr. Madhav Karki, Mr. Basanta Shrestha and Mr. Sushil Pradhan were in Bangladesh for the release.
Sushil Pradhan
3Ė5 April 2006: Italian DSS Project
The General Operational Plan (GOP) meeting on Regional Decision Support System – Hindu Kush-Karakoram Himalaya (DSS-HKKH) Partnership Project supported by Italian Government Cooperation was held from 3 – 5 April 2006 in Kathmandu. The objectives of the workshop were to finalise the General Operational Plan, the six monthly workplan and develop strategies for country specific project implementation. The project will commence in July 2006.
Birendra Bajracharya

Shared Knowledge

Handover of the Community Forestry Maps
People and Resource Dynamics Project (PARDYP) gave community forest maps of the Jhikhu Khola watershed to the forest user groups and District Forest Office on 26 May 2006. Jhikhu Khola watershed (JKW), located at Kabhrepalanchok District at the central middle hill region in Nepal and covering an area of 11,141 ha is one of the watersheds under PARDYP. The forest that makes up about 31% of the area plays an important role in subsistence farming in the JKW. There are 36 forest user groups managing 1492 ha of community forest area.

Community Forest Maps showing the forest types, species composition, crown density and maturity class are essential for the preparation of the community forest management operation plan. In cooperation with the District Forest Office, PARDYP has prepared the forest maps of all community forest in the watershed. These maps will add a milestone to the proper management of the forest resources in the watershed.
Keshar Sthapit

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