strategy

Improving access to information

Synonyms:
Ensuring access to information as a basic need
Freeing up access to information
Providing access to information resources
Widening common information access
Enabling comprehensive information access
Improving access to information sources
Increasing global information access
Providing modern information access
Facilitating information access
Equalizing access to knowledge
Context:
Information is an essential pillar for employing technologies for the provision of basic needs. Students and teachers in low-income communities, striving to keep abreast of the changing economic, political, social and technical configurations that affect their lives, require access to information. It is basic for activities geared to participatory action and movements to gain empowerment for poor populations. It is extremely useful for smaller enterprises attempting to gain knowledge concerning how to go about applying for credit, possible product diversification, market conditions for their product, product specifications established by state regulations or by buyers, price and availability of inputs, transportation alternatives and schedules, and alternative techniques of production. Decision-makers must also be able to find out the extent to which resources intended to alleviate basic needs deficiencies are "hijacked by income strata that are not really in dire need: programmes designed to alleviate poverty could be periodically reviewed so as to determine whether the targeted group is actually benefiting. While this is a national matter, non-governmental organizations are strategically placed to provide information on how much benefit is being reaped by the very poor.

There is a rich variety of media for sources of information that includes printed matter, telephones, radios, personal contact, and computers, for example. The central idea is to use all information avenues that are practical in the effort to increase the poor's exposure to information that is comprehensible and useful. As in the cases of education and small-scale economic activities, the scientific and technological community can be of great value by initiating participatory explorations with targeted groups to identify and facilitate access to such information. The information needs to be structured and intelligible to poor populations; the flows should not be uni-directional. The international community, donors, non-governmental organizations and state agencies all need to receive, process, analyse and share data collected at the local level on quality-of-life indicators, progress of development programmer, and new opportunities for, and challenges to, achieving further impetus to technical learning and improvement in regions characterized by low-income populations. Furthermore, the international community must take a leadership role in monitoring technological progress in those areas likely to yield benefits to poor communities.

Implementation:
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
Subjects:
Information
Planetary initiatives
Reform
Values
Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies