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Module 3 - India: Rural Kiosks Provide Information, Knowledge, and Business Services in Andhra Pradesh


What’s innovative? Rural kiosks operated by women’s self-help groups provide income-generating, free, and client-oriented information, knowledge, and business services that have benefited poor rural households in numerous ways.

Rural poverty in Andhra Pradesh is multidimensional and complex. The government has not met the basic needs of the poor, resulting in poor access to water and sanitation, poor health and malnutrition, continuing illiteracy, a lack of marketable skills, violence, and crime. The lack of political freedom and participation of the poor has further alienated them. The entire situation has been exacerbated by slow growth in agriculture and limited diversification of the rural economy.

In response, the Andhra Pradesh Government developed its Vision 2020 for comprehensive human and economic development, which mainly seeks to improve rural livelihoods for marginal and small-scale farmers, widen access to nonfarm employment, improve community access to financial resources, and use recent advances in information and communications technology to reduce rural poverty.

Project Objectives and Description

The Andhra Pradesh Rural Poverty Reduction Project aims to enable the rural poor, particularly the poorest of the poor, to improve their livelihoods and quality of life. Through the establishment of rural kiosks in selected project areas, information and communications technology was used to empower rural women, enhance skills, increase productivity, improve participatory decision-making, provide timely delivery of government services, and build new links between segments of the rural population.

Rural kiosks—which have been in operation only since 2005—nevertheless show good potential to help improve rural livelihoods. They are managed by Mandal Samakhya, a federation of self-help groups. Each kiosk caters to 1,000-3,000 households. The rural kiosk can be considered as n essential first step towards achieving a statewide networked economy, in which (1) the rural population has access to information for empowerment and development; (2) marginal farmers can obtain information to move up the value chain, such as information on markets, tools to improve productivity, and best practices; (3) localized content and interface is developed to meet the needs of various types of households with varying degrees of literacy; (4) domestic and global markets are brought closer to those making products and artisans making handicrafts; (5) information on employment opportunities is available; (6) the opportunity exists to develop a fully e-literate state, in which at least one member of each family is computer proficient.

The criteria for setting up a rural kiosk include: they must be owned and managed by Mandal Samakhya and operated by self-help groups; uninterrupted power supply; reliable telephone connectivity; easy access by rural households; and close proximity to a bank (preferably walking distance). Based on these criteria, several steps were taken to set up rural kiosks.Two to four women from the self-help group were identified as having the aptitude and analytical abilities to work with local people to operate and manage the kiosks.

 

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