FOKO: Can ICT Bring A Solution To Overcome Despair?

The recent arrival of the optical fiber submarine cable (EASSY) in Madagascar unfurls lots of opportunities for the promotion of ICT. It will enable data transfer at speeds 40 times faster than dial-up connections currently available in the country. A series of ICT for development workshops have taken place in the capital Antananarivo to explore the potentials. Stéphane Ramananarivo, a member of the Rising Voices grantee FOKO, participated at the T4D-M4D Forum and shares [fr] this in his blog:

FoKo t4dVarious topics have been mentioned by the leaders of each entity: women, children, youth, health, nutrition, insecurity … you could see the problems deteriorate because of the inaccessibility to information. For example a “tambanivohitra” is forced to walk for miles to share a new broadcast center for basic health or CBS. That's why we should popularize ICTs to those who have a minimum knowledge in the most isolated localities in order to reduce the gap of news in real time.

On analysis we found that the use of new technology is very beneficial for the Malagasy, which is why we must find people of good will to implement it. (machine translation)

Here is a video of Stéphane's speech [fr] in the group detailing the success of FOKO Blog Club activities discussed at the T4D-M4D Forum:

Andrydago informs that “Silo Rice Mill”, which is mainly involved in rice operations throughout Madagascar, is being sabotaged and will be forced to close down. The consequences of shutting down of employers like this means tough time for the country. Moonlightgirl shares a reality in Madagascar:

Since the political crisis 2009- 2010 occurred in Madagascar, a lot of Malagasy people became very poor. Many had lost their jobs, and their families couldn’t even afford to pay the rent anymore. Their landlords kicked them out their homes. Their children had to stop going to school. Most of them ended up building little houses made from sacks or if they were lucky enough to find a little tent to squeeze their family into.

She asks these questions:

If this Crisis continue another year what will become of the Nation, and especially us Malagasy people? A lot will die of cold and starvation. Some would lose hope and commit suicide or even become crazy.

When certain politicians and people thought that they wanted to make Madagascar a better country? Did they? Few people do live well but the majority is living in Hell on earth.

Andrydago at The Cyber Observer informs in his blog about a turmoil within the Malagasy army which does not promise much to prevent the ongoing crisis. HAT minister of defense, General Noel RAKOTONANDRASANA was sacked because of rumors that he is conspiring to stage a military coup:

“Tapina ny dômy …” (free translation: the game is over) a friend said when he heard about the news of the sacking of the HAT minister of defense, General Noel RAKOTONANDRASANA, on Wednesday April 07th, evening. It was a real surprise for everybody, the General Noel RAKOTONANDRASANA was among the military officers who brought Andry Rajoelina on power.

Malagasy new year celebrations - image by Ariniaina

Malagasy new year celebrations – image by Ariniaina

Ariniaina at Dago Tiako wishes her readers a happy Malagasy new year. She went to Andohalo on the 16th of March to learn how Malagasy people celebrate the New year’s eve ‘traditionally’. She writes:

The ceremony started at 8 p.m. with a short ‘kabary’ (speech). Then, the organizers lit the fire which is called ‘Afo tsy maty’ cuz the fire won’t go out till the morning. A guy lit a candle from the fire and shared it to one of the young guys who were lined up in a big ‘fanorona’ (Malagasy chess). Turn by turn they went and lit the candles on the fanorona. When all the candles were lit, all these young people went and lit the candles of the ‘arendrina’ (lanterns) that the public had brought. This “fire sharing’ is called ‘mizara hafanana’ (sharing heat) or “mizara hazavana’ (sharing light). (I wish I brought my lantern)

‘Angano’ (tales) and games were prepared for all these kids as well. Mmmh the tale of ‘I Faramalemy sy i Kotobekibo’ made me remember my childhood. Then, it was time for everyone kids and adults to dance and to clap during the different shows of ‘Hira gasy’, ‘Vakodrazana’ (typicall Malagasy song and rythm). It had rained but none cared. They kept on appreciating the ceremony. Yet some of the organizers managed to keep the fire on

Fire Sharing Rituals At New Years Festival. Image by Ariniaina

Fire Sharing Rituals At New Years Festival. Image by Ariniaina

Moonlightgirl shares two personal experiences about personal hygiene and etiquette. She concludes:

It’s not the kind of clothes and living standards that we have that shows what type of person we are. Judging a person by their physical appearance isn’t always a good idea.

tolotraTolotra Ratsimandresy in a new blogger from FOKO Fianarantsoa. He is also the President of Youth environmentalist association, Vintsy and member of Young conservationists club. A few days after Cyclone Hubert hit Fianarantsoa, Tolotra shares his views on environment and conservation of rain forest in Madagascar in a podcast [fr]:

Podcast With Tolotra (in French language)


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