Digital Society Foundation, the team behind Connect the Blue Continent, is a proud member of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI). The Alliance has released the latest edition of its annual Affordability Report, which examines the current affordability environment across 51 developing and emerging countries, and highlights the continued need for urgent …

Connect the Blue Continent Rationale for affordable broadband access in the Pacific Islands: Education Introduction Universal education has been globally identified as a priority development goal. For several decades, the provision of education material has been crucial to providing basic education capacity to communities, however the industrial-age approach to education …

The Rationale for Affordable Broadband in the Pacific Islands: Food Security

Local food resources
Local food resources

Introduction

Remote Pacific Island communities are at risk of a long-term problem with food security because they are unable to engage in regional and global knowledge sharing and services enabled by affordable, broadband-speed Internet.

It is our contention that broadband access, systems and skills capacity development represents an important investment for the long term food security of Pacific Island communities.

Risks

According to the World Health Organisation (see Reference A below) there are three pillars of food security to be considered:

  • consistent availability of sufficient quantities;
  • resources to enable access to appropriately nutritious food;
  • knowledge of nutrition and safe handling for appropriate use.

Island communities are at risk of food insecurity, being highly dependent on fisheries, soil quality, and high levels of imports. Natural disasters can create short and long term crises for island populations.

Incomplete commodity trade information can also contribute to food insecurity with businesses and individuals vulnerable to unfair pricing.

Opportunities

Improved agriculture sustainability and food security has already been attributed to improved Internet access to rural African communities, yet the Pacific Islands region has not been able to fully enjoy the same developments.

  1. Tanzania’s ‘First Mile Project’ recruits market investigators to call farmers with market prices and has improved incomes for primary producers (see Reference B below). A modernised version of this in the Pacific, with an independent body updating local, regional, and global market prices online would streamline access to this information and improve outcomes for producers and consumers.
  2. Studies in Africa by the Institut de Recherché pour le Dévelopement (IRD, France – see Reference C below) have shown that with access to accurate rain forecasts, farmers can alter agriculture practices for higher crop yield. With similar facilities, particularly mobile internet, island agriculture producers can improve their community’s food security.
  3. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation identify multiple areas for food security improvement in communities with ICT access (see Reference D below) including:
  • “interactive and collaborative networks among government research and extension agencies, educational institutions, NGOs, input suppliers, product buyers, farmer organizations and rural media outlets;
  • marketing information networks linking local market systems with provincial, national and global systems;
  • agricultural distance learning and tele-training programmes;
  • and specialized information networks for weather, environmental protection, disease and pest monitoring, famine and early warning systems.”

In general, internet access can improve shared understanding of locally-available food resources, production capability and nutrition diet benefits from local resources. It can also assist the optimisation of food sourcing and the matching of supply and demand, optimising the resources available to the community.

Disaster Recovery

When it comes to natural disasters impacting food security, broadband internet access to all communities can also provide vital assistance:

  • Internet capabilities will allow for early warning systems, giving communities time to stock-pile or better protect existing food supplies in the event of natural disasters.
  • Widely accessible broadband speed Internet would also allow for better emergency response distribution as communities would be better able to communicate the needs in their area.

Conclusion

Access to affordable broadband for all communities, together with systems and skills capacity growth, represents an important investment for long term food security across the Pacific Islands region and a viable future for all communities.

Please join our call for a joint regional policy initiative to ‘Connect the Blue Continent’.

http://www.facebook.com/BlueContinent

Authors: Elizabeth Hart, Chris Sampson

References:

A. http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story028/en/
B. http://www.ifad.org/rural/firstmile/index.htm
C. http://en.ird.fr/the-media-centre/scientific-newssheets/372-rainfall-forecasting-could-reduce-food-insecurity
D. http://www.fao.org/docrep/w9290e/w9290e03.htm

Pacific Plan Review 2013We have made a submission to the Pacific Plan Review 2013 – a vital regional review taking place throughout 2013.

 

Our submission provides more information on our initiative to Connect the Blue Continent – and in particular our call for a master-plan to be developed for digital connectivity across the region.

It’s short and easy to read – see below.

Submission to the Pacific Plan Review 2013

For more information on the Pacific Plan Review 2013, see here.

Connect the Blue Continent Rationale for affordable broadband access in the Pacific Islands: Regional security Introduction The vast distances between islands in the Pacific region create logistical problems for collaboration between islands. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat places ICT connectivity as a priority for improving regional cooperation. Our research has …

Connect the Blue Continent Rationale for affordable broadband access to Pacific Island Communities – enabling improved health and well-being Remote Pacific Island communities are at risk of a long-term health crisis and health-related aid dependency because they are unable to engage in global knowledge sharing and services enabled by affordable, …

Workshop with UN Youth Rep Dan Ryan

The team spent Wednesday afternoon sharing expertise, goals and donuts with Dan Ryan, Australia’s UN Youth Representative for 2012/13.

The team with Dan
Workshopping with UN rep Dan Ryan

We discussed alignment of Dan’s initiative to increase Pacific representation of youth at the UN with our focus on affordable broadband access to remote communities.

It was inspiring to see Dan’s enthusiasm for giving young people in the Pacific a voice and to see how our broadband access initiative could assist.

Among other things, we discussed the MyWorld2015 survey that the UN are running to establish development priorities beyond the Millennium Development Goals. This will be the biggest survey ever of global needs and it’s vital that remote communities in the Pacific have an opportunity to participate.

We discussed how broadband access assists all of the 16 UN themes and we have drafted a paper on this alignment – see here.

We look forward to working with Dan into the future – good luck with the rest of your term in the UN hot seat Dan !

Some useful links:

The MyWorld2015 survey http://www.myworld2015.org

Dan’s website http://www.unyouthrep.com/

Take a look at Dan in action at the UN here http://www.unyouthrep.com/blog/speech/

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About Us We are a group of volunteers based in Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world, working with a number of Pacific Island parliamentary bodies and other organisations related to the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures. We believe that access to affordable broadband for all communities, together …

Connect the Blue Continent The Rationale for Affordable Broadband in the Pacific Islands: Economic development Introduction Remote Pacific Island communities are at risk of a new, long-term poverty and aid dependency cycle because they are unable to engage in modern economic activity using affordable, broadband-speed Internet access (“broadband”). As the result …