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.
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 for 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. More research results and analysis can be found on the companion website, www.idrc.ca/in_focus_information, which is included with this book on a DVD.
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.