Access to the Internet can change people’s lives for the better. This is particularly true when communities take ownership of that access and take full advantage of it to improve their quality of life. This has been the case in the community of Azacualpa, a village in Intibucá in Honduras.
In Azacualpa, the members of the community took on the task of developing and implementing the project “Smart Communities” in order to reduce the digital divide – and preserve their collective memory. The project, which is part of the Internet Society’s Beyond the Net program, finds its origin in “Radio Azacualpa – The Voice of Women,” a community radio station that started in 2017.
By 2018, Smart Communities expanded its reach by impacting the nearly 400 families that inhabit the Azacualpa Valley. To achieve its objectives, the team divided the tasks into three main groups: administrative aspects, project governance, and technical aspects. The three working groups were accompanied by the Honduras Chapter of the Internet Society and the organization Sustainable Development Network Honduras (RDS-HN).
The participation of the community was fundamental. In addition to promoting a consultation with the community, the project facilitators promoted training in communications so that community members had the necessary tools to develop local content.
According to Eduardo Tomé, leader of the project, the deployment of the community network of Smart Communities is part of the efforts to increase diversity on the Internet: “Something we maintain is the importance of community networks and reaching those people that are not connected, to create a truly plural Internet. We cannot consider the Internet a global community until all sectors are present and represented”.
In this way, Smart Communities improved the communication of the families of Azacualpa, facilitated the installation of a telecentre, and significantly reduced the digital divide. These results were shared with the Latin America and the Caribbean community through a webinar which took place during October 2018. In 2019, there is a plan to expand the reach of the network and maintain training to the community to continue developing local content, as well as a training program for the network to have a sustainable business model.
Read more about the Azacualpa community and how they’re using the Internet to help preserve their traditions: How the Lenca Are Restoring the Past to Build Their Future and Las Marías of Azacualpa: Internet for Raising Women’s Voices.
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