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Changing Policy and Philanthropy

Post:

03

Date:

Dec 14, 2000

From:

Michael Potashnik


Mario, I am entering your discussion a bit late, but hope to catch up. I agree with John's recommendation to include in your strategy a public communication and lobbying component that magnifies the voices of the poor.

As you correctly note, the interests of low-income communities are rarely well represented in government in general and especially on matters of technology access and deployment. Therefore, I believe such lobbying could encourage and support enlightened decision-making, if organized and managed effectively. However, I suspect that the majority of civil society or peoples' organizations representing the interests of the poor are, themselves, not very well-prepared or effectively coordinated for lobbying on these issues. Especially, those who are working at the grass roots level and have made the effort to learn about the needs of the low-income communities. Encouraging, supporting, rallying these groups could make a difference, especially if you could link them up with seasoned lobbying professionals who know how to influence public policy effectively.

By the way, we just concluded a three-day workshop at the World Bank with a large group of representatives of people's organizations from around the world, discussing various strategies/approaches in using IT in giving a voice to low-income communities. I was not able to participate very much in the conference, so I couldn't say what we learned. However, if you think it might help stimulate thinking, I could try to arrange a briefing for your team with the workshop organizers.

Mike

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