DIYNGO Champions Renewable-Powered ICTs in Kenya

28 October 2010 | News story

The use of renewable energy for Information Communication Technologies is the focus of DIYNGO in Kenya, founded by IUCN CEC member Dr. Timothy Barker.

Do It Yourself Non Governmental Organisation (DIYNGO, see www.diyngo.org) is a voluntary organisation formed to champion “the use of renewable energy for Information Communication Technologies to enable education, healthcare and governance in Developing Communities”. We realize that there are global problems in the world today that require a concerted global response. These problems include the onset of climate change, poverty, the loss of biodiversity and the need for a more sustainable approach to our future. Hence we have garnered a worldwide membership although we currently concentrate our efforts in Kenya.

We have developed some novel technologies to help us achieve our aims. These include Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) powered by wind and solar power and a netbook computer powered by solar as well as a host of other peripheral devices also powered by renewables. Although we do not directly address issues of climate change and biodiversity loss, these aims are implicit in our work as our proactive use of these technologies – as opposed to running off a centralized power grid, for instance – help to reduce longer-term impact upon an environment.

The technologies are used to run some novel software we have developed utilizing advanced Artificial Intelligence to recommend solutions to those who may not have the required knowledge themselves. They have also been used to communicate amongst ourselves and with the wider public as to the benefits of their usage. Furthermore, the technologies serve as an excellent demonstration of the potential of these kinds of solutions for answering a variety of issues that communities in developing countries face.

DIYNGO was founded by Dr. Timothy Barker. Dr. Barker is a Champion for the United Nations Global Alliance for ICTs and Development (UN-GAID) as well as being a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Education and Communication (IUCN CEC). He holds a Ph.D. in Education and other degrees in Computer Science. He also was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS). Looking at the current state of play in terms of ICTs and Development, he noticed that, at the time, ICTs and renewable energy had not been married particularly in Developing Communities.

Other members in Kenya include a local proponent of renewable energy who has become our own Champion in a rural, impoverished region and a community radio producer who is also active in environmental research around the same area and has become our Secretary. Numerous others have provided advice and support as we have struggled to achieve our vision.

We have been negotiating the development of learning materials to popularize our approaches and, in the near future, we hope to protect our technologies and then attract funding so that we may roll out our solutions further. To date, our solutions have largely been proof-of-concept. So far our efforts have been well-received by numerous parties including local Kenyan school children and chiefs. It is perhaps still too early to ascertain the full impact of our work but the prognosis is certainly looking good!

For more information, contact Dr. Timothy Barker, info@diyngo.org