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in_focus - Information Lives of the Poor: Fighting poverty with technology

Laurent Elder, Rohan Samarajiva, Alison Gillwald, and Hernán Galperin

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Information and communication have always opened opportunities for the poor to earn income, reduce isolation, and respond resiliently to emergencies. With mobile phone use exploding across the developing world, even marginalized communities are now benefiting from modern communication tools.



Research networks:

Diálogo Regional sobre Sociedad de la Información (DIRSI)

Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia)

Research ICT in Africa (RIA)


Harvard Forum II Essays, Information Technologies and International Development, 2010

Fast-tracking the digital revolution: Broadband for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2011

Broadening the agenda for ICTs for poverty reduction: PICTURE-Africa, 2010

Digital and other poverties: Exploring the connection in four East African countries, 2010

Leveraging the budget telecom network business model to bring broadband to the people, Rohan Samarajiva, 2010

The poverty of ICT policy, research, and practice in Africa, Alison Gillwald, 2010

Institutional connectivity: The case of Mexico, Judith Mariscal Avilés, Carlos Brambila Paz, 2012

This book explores the impacts of this unprecedented technological change. Drawing on unique household surveys undertaken by research networks active in 38 developing countries, it helps to fill knowledge gaps about how the poor use information and communication technologies (ICTs). How have they benefited from mobile devices, computers, and the Internet? What insights can research provide to promote affordable access to ICTs, so that communities across the developing world can take advantage of the opportunities they offer?

The core of this book synthesizes the findings from groundbreaking research conducted with IDRC support in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This research catalyzed policy changes that helped improve access to ICTs by all levels of society. Information Lives of the Poor compiles the evidence across regions and brings together regional perspectives on this important topic. It concludes by presenting policy recommendations and some directions for future research.

The authors

Laurent Elder leads the Information and Networks program at Canada’s International Development Research Centre.

Rohan Samarajiva is founding Chair and CEO of LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank based in Sri Lanka.

Alison Gillwald is Executive Director of Research ICT Africa, a research network based in South Africa.

Hernán Galperin is a member of the steering committee of DIRSI, a Latin American ICT policy and research network based in Peru.


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