Today, technology is playing an increasingly important part in people’s lives. The Internet has revolutionized the access people have to information, and increased development in other technological sectors, such as telecom, have also produced change.
However, developing countries and the poor have largely been left out of this technology revolution. In some areas there is no phone access, let alone Internet access. Increasing access to information and technology can help poor individuals and families escape poverty.
Technology and Poverty
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can greatly help the poor. They allow easier communication, create new economic markets, and allow greater access to information. Also, the ability to effectively use ICTs is quickly becoming a requirement to obtaining a high-paying job, regardless of location.
While the gap in ICT access between developed nations and developing nations is huge, much is being done to ease the passage of developing countries into the era of technology. This has worked in the past – the Green Revolution, which gave developing nations access to new farming techniques, increased food production in Southeast Asia exponentially. Now, organizations like the World Bank are funding programs to supply computers to rural schools in developing nations, train teachers in use of technology, and increase access to ICTs overall. One organization, called Practical Action, has the express goal of reducing poverty through technology, and pursues research and development programs in this area.
Technology can also open markets for poor individuals. Grameen Bank, working in Bangladesh, recently started a program that allows women to sell telephone access in rural areas without land lines. These women make almost three times the average per capita income, and also supply villages with a way to communicate with the outside world. Farmers, too, can benefit from technology – with Internet access, they can change the prices of their crops to reflect current values, and compete more effectively. As ICT access grows in developing areas with the work of the World Bank, Practical Action, and other organizations, poverty, in turn, will decrease.
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Alleviating Poverty Through Technology. Science. 1998.