Health, education, access to a livelihood: basic human rights that many take for granted, but for billions of people they are far from day-to-day life.
Under the framework of the Millennium Development Goals, backed by all UN member states as a way of meeting the needs of the world’s poor, two innovative projects – in Morocco and the Brazilian Amazon – are being run to improve people's lives.
In the Brazilian state of Pará, we are working with telecom operator Vivo and the nonprofit organization Saúde & Alegria ("Health and Happiness") to lead a group of eight companies bringing mobile broadband connectivity to 175 isolated villages.
Roberto Lima, president of Vivo, says there are more than 3 million people in the Amazon region: "These people should have access to health services, educational services, and even entertainment content just as much, if not more so, than those people living in urban areas. When we were launching our 3G network, we thought it was natural to be present in these villages with mobile broadband services."
The initiative will give more than 30,000 people access for the first time to e-health and e-education services through mobile broadband. So far, mobile broadband has reached 15 villages, bringing access to a range of applications and enablers. One of these is the Mobile Survey Tool, which allows the collection and analysis of rural medical and environmental data, helping monitor quality of life and deforestation in the Amazon.
Mobile communication plays an important role in helping to achieve sustainable development in rural communities. Now that these villages have improved access to healthcare, education and information, people are better equipped to make a living in their own communities without having to travel or move to cities.
Across the Atlantic, Rhamna is an impoverished region close to Marrakesh in central Morocco: it has 300,000 residents, of whom 66 percent never finished secondary school. The literacy rate is just 40 percent. There is one doctor for every 10,000 people and only one dentist for the entire population.
Ericsson's Rachid Chihani, says the main industry in the region is agriculture, which can be challenging because much of the land is unsuitable for cultivation. "We started the Lumière de Rhamna initiative to meet the needs of the people," he says.
The Lumière de Rhamna (Light of Rhamna) project was launched in 2007 when Ericsson Morocco partnered with the Rhamna Foundation, Maroc Telecom and the Moroccan Ministries of Education and Health. The initiative's main objective is to promote e-learning and mobile health services, generating economic opportunities through internet access.
In 2009, the project linked 60 classrooms to the internet and equipped them with interactive whiteboards connected to a computer and projector. Chihani says the effects have already been impressive. "What really strikes you is the happiness of the children, and their motivation. Previously, attendance at school wasn't high – not only was school a long way away, but many students chose to focus on working and providing money for their families. Now the classrooms are absolutely full." The aim is to bring mobile education to 347 schools by giving teachers access to remote classrooms.
The second phase of the program will boost healthcare services. "Right now we are working on a program that has a minivan equipped with basic medical supplies, and is staffed by a nurse and a doctor – all connected using Ericsson e-health solutions."
In the third phase, farmers will receive training using mobile education, helping them get more out of their land.
Mobile technology is being used around the world as a vital tool for closing the digital divide and raising the standard of living in rural areas – essential for helping communities achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
We are committed to helping the world achieve the Millennium Development Goals – eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development – by the deadline of 2015.
In the Brazilian state of Pará, operator Vivo is helping to bring mobile broadband connectivity to 175 isolated villages. Listen to Vivo President Roberto Lima talk about how the initiative will give more than 30,000 people access for the first time to e-health and e-education services.
Rhamna, an impoverished region in central Morocco has 300,000 residents, of whom 66 percent never finished secondary school. There is one doctor for every 10,000 people and only one dentist for the entire population. Ericsson's Rachid Chihani talks about how a local project is changing things.
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