Distance and proximity

"Mumbai is a city stretched to its limits. Nearly every corner of the booming metropolis has visible signs of the vast and mounting problems of rural-to-urban migration. Ill-equipped even for its current population, the city has created a fend-for-yourself situation, leaving those on the margins alone and outside the reach of city services. While slums and settlements are found all over the city — hanging over sewer lines, bumping up against highways, and leaning against the richest buildings in the city — poverty in M-Ward is on level beyond most other areas. Almost no city services reach the dense slum zone."


Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community ManagerNairobi's Thika superhighway project

Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community Manager

The Thika superhighway, a ten-lane highway that covers the 42 kilometers between Nairobi and Thika, northeast of the capital, is a first-of-a-kind flagship "mega project" launched by the Kenyan government.

The highway's development marks the initial phase of an urban planning strategy aiming to make Nairobi a world-class city by 2030.

Construction of the superhighway was awarded to a Chinese firm in 2008 and has been paid for by the Government of Kenya and the African Development Bank. As construction reaches its final stages, eight months later than predicted, residents and commuters are beginning to enjoy the benefits brought by East Africa's largest and most modern road.

The highway has raised the quality of life for many residents of bordering towns and made the commute into central Nairobi a relatively painless affair. Nevertheless, the project has not been accompanied by any concrete pro-poor interventions, and it risks excluding many of the urban poor who might otherwise have benefited from the upgrade.

Present-day Nairobi does not have an official master plan for the city but has adapted its 1973 master plan to the goals set out in the Kenya Vision 2030 paper. Dubbed the Nairobi 2030 Metro Strategy, a city-wide intevention was kick-started by focusing on upgrading Nairobi's existing road network and creating a number of bypasses — with the eventual goal of creating an orbital ring road that circumvents the Central Business District (CBD) and eases congestion through the city.

According to a study conducted in 2007 by Harvard University and the Nairobi School of the Built Environment: "Thika road has been viewed as a corridor for development since the original Metropolitan Growth Strategy was laid out in 1973." The study, entitled "Nairobi: A City Without a Master Plan", indicates that after the drafting of the 1973 master plan, no progress was made towards the construction of the road, but that during that time government employees acquired large tracts of the land that lies between Nairobi and Thika.

The report underscores that "all the land that was reserved for use by infrastructure was allocated to individuals... as a result, squatter and illegal settlements mushroomed all over... (these settlements) occurred because of the failure or inability of land use planning to cater for the needs of low-income groups. If only those responsible for land-use planning would have considered the land needs of both the poor and the rich alike and provided effective zoning mechanisms, this problem would have been minimal."

Part of the land that lies between Nairobi and Thika is supposed to eventually become one of the six new towns that the Draft Spatial Plan for Nairobi Metropolitan Region (DSPNMR) has recommended be constructed over the next twenty years. The six proposed towns are to be called Aerotropolis, Knowledge-cum-Health City, Cyber City, Transport New Town, Sports City, and Amboseli New Town. The aim is to "build an internationally competitive economy for the metropolitan region's prosperity" by creating self-contained cities that will accommodate Nairobi's growing population and promote economic development in line with the Vision 2030 goals.

The cities are expected to house a population of roughly 100,000 inhabitants each. According to the DSPNMR, the population growth for the Nairobi Metropolitan Region (NMR) — comprising Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, and Kajiado — is predicted to grow from just under 7 million (2009 census) to somewhere between 13 million and 15 million inhabitants by the year 2030.

Recognizing the need to dramatically increase the housing stock to be able to accommodate population growth, the DSPNMR makes a series of recommendations on how to improve urban planning regulations and how best to eradicate slums and create alternative housing for existing slum-dwellers.

According to the DSPNMR:

"The Housing strategy of this Plan incorporates specific approaches for development of new housing areas, upgrading and intensification through redevelopment of existing housing areas, housing in new towns, housing in villages as well as special areas such as Aerotropolis. (...) a multi-pronged housing strategy is to be adopted for the provision of housing stock and for delivery of serviced land, involving the private sector to a significant extent, public agencies and cooperative societies etc. (...) The Nairobi Metropolitan Region can accommodate a part of resettlement of squatters outside Nairobi. This category constitutes the bulk of the housing stock that has to be catered at an affordable price to the lowest income bracket as Housing for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). It is recommended that in every housing scheme taken up by any agency at least 10 per cent of the saleable net residential land should be reserved for EWS housing."

The objectives of the DSPNMR seem sound and are in line with many housing policies in the developed world, which require that any residential development be accompanied by a certain percentage of low-income housing. Nevertheless, in view of the fact that much of the land in the Thika environs is in private hands and is already being developed without any structured form of urban planning, it is hard to predict how such a strategy will be made to succeed.

Although the Spatial Plan does include provisions for housing Nairobi's urban poor and provisions for how housing developments should be conducted, the primary focus at the moment is, as mentioned above, upgrading the roads. The creation of the Thika Superhighway has spurred a lot of unplanned development and rapid urbanization in the areas adjacent to the highway. As a result, land prices have increased exponentially as the area has begun its transformation into an attractive Nairobi suburb. These developments appear not to have been accompanied by any kind of concrete provisions for increasing the housing stock for the poor, who will inevitably struggle to afford rent in the area.

The DSPNMR goes on to state that "with the growing economy, increased per capita income and better affordability, the urban poor households shall shift to lower income groups and lower middle income group classes." This statement appears to have been framed around an assumption that the economic benefits the middle classes will receive as a result of the interventions will trickle down to the poorer classes. In the case of the Thika environs, with their rapidly rising land prices and the development of exclusively middle-to-high-income estates, it is difficult to see how this will take place. Unless the government begins implementing the pro-poor housing part of the strategy immediately, it will be hard to retroactively provide the number of housing units that are realistically needed to deliver affordable houses to current slum dwellers and to respond to the population explosion predicted for the next few decades.

The DSPNMR states that "the supply of serviced land for housing in appropriate quantities and locations to all sections of the population is an important part of any development plan. This is especially true for areas where development is taking place at a very fast rate." How these words will be turned into concrete policies and action remains to be seen.

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community ManagerMumbai's most neglected slum

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community Manager

In a distant northeastern corner of the city, Mumbai discards its waste — refuse, animals, and unwanted people. At 52 kilometers square, M-Ward is home to the city's dump yard, slaughterhouse, and some of the worst squalor in a city of dire extremes. The ward has the lowest Human Development Index in the city, and 85 percent of its 800,000 residents live in slums. There is only one toilet for every 87 people. Children attend school at the lowest levels in the city, and appropriate medical care is nearly non-existent. And the problems go on. "M-Ward is an extreme example of skewed development in the city," says From the Margins, a short film on the impoverished area.

Why here?

Mumbai is a city stretched to its limits. Nearly every corner of the booming metropolis has visible signs of the vast and mounting problems of rural-to-urban migration. Ill-equipped even for its current population, the city has created a fend-for-yourself situation, leaving those on the margins alone and outside the reach of city services. While slums and settlements are found all over the city — hanging over sewer lines, bumping up against highways, and leaning against the richest buildings in the city — poverty in M-Ward is on level beyond most other areas. Almost no city services reach the dense slum zone.

M-Ward didn't happen by accident. In fact, the slum area's development dates back decades to the time when the city began shifting its dirtiest industries to the ward. The Deonar abattoir, located in M-Ward since 1927, was originally in Bandra, not far from the leather tanners of Dharavi. A well-known book on Dharavi's history, Rediscovering Dharavi, describes what it was like to live among the tanneries: "In the past, when tanneries dotted Dharavi's landscape, the first thing that hit you was the stench." Today, M-Ward is home to the largest abattoir in Asia.

The real estate in M-Ward has traditionally been inexpensive because of the lack of infrastructure in the area. Until recently, when the Mumbai-Pune expressway, the monorail, and the metro were built, causing an increase in land value, M-Ward was a cheap dumping ground. And the city began using the land for just that. Municipal waste was carried there by the truckload, permeating the dense, gray settlements with yet another putrid smell. Exacerbating the rancidness is the massive amount of industrial waste in the area. Refineries and other polluting industries dot the borders of the cast-off zone.

"The most neglected and unwanted area"

Given the low land value, the city found M-Ward to be the perfect place to relocate its unwanted citizens, as well. Those who have been thrown out of other parts of the city — those rendered homeless by ongoing slum demolitions throughout the city — end up here, M-Ward East. The housing is a mix of tin-made shanties and government rehabilitation buildings, jammed so close together there is little air flow in between. Asthma is said to be on the rise in the area due to the polluting air, and malnutrition is equivalent to some of the country’s rural tribal areas, known to be the poorest and most landless people in India.

The conditions in M-Ward reveal more than just the neglect of the municipal corporation; in fact, it uncovers a much more devastating fact: the poverty-stricken area has been created by a city pushing the marginalized even further to the margins. The discarded resettlements reveal what has become the ghettoization of the most poor and vulnerable. There are an estimated 150,000-200,000 people who have been resettled in M-Ward.

"The unwanted people of Mumbai get displaced and put here. Some of the people are waiting for resettlement and are waiting for proper services, even after 20 years. And many more communities get displaced every year," says Professor S. Parasuraman, Director of the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), in a video interview. TISS has undertaken a massive five-year effort to improve conditions in the slum through community-led development.

The TISS Project

While Dharavi and the plight of its residents make headlines internationally, few report on M-Ward. Students and faculty at the Tata Insitute hope to change that. The school, a leading social sector educational institute in the city, is itself located in M-Ward, along with the Institute for Population Sciences. As part of TISS's Platinum Jubilee Anniversary initiative, in 2011, the school launched an initiative in M-Ward with the following ambitious goals:

  • Reduce mortality rate among 1-to-6-year-olds by 50 percent
  • Provide universal pre- and post-natal care
  • Immunize 100 percent of newborns
  • Bring about 100 percent school enrollment
  • Reduce school dropout rate 100 percent
  • Set up skill training for 1,000 residents annually

The plan is to target critical indicators such as the child mortality rate, infrastructural deficits, and access to elementary education as first steps in a large-scale but strategic intervention.

"These are our neighbors... We found it our responsibility to document the situation and to talk to those in power and find out how the situation can be changed," says Professor Parasuraman in the interview.

A new paradigm for development

If TISS is successful in its undertaking, the redevelopment initiative could mark a paradigm shift in how the entire city approaches improving the lives of slum dwellers. Intent on "co-creating a new reality," the school — led by experienced faculty and a small army of 1,500 graduate students — is focused on creating a truly inclusive and democratic development paradigm. It says that for this effort to work, the people of M-Ward — as well as government, the municipality, civil society, the corporate sector, academics, and activists — must come together to discuss, design and implement the interventions.

Engaging with M-Ward is not new to TISS and its students, who have been participating in field work in the neighboring slum for decades. However, this initiative "is an effort to fundamentally alter the situation."

Last year, students headed out to the narrow nagar lanes in groups to begin the first step in the five-year effort. With the goal of establishing neighborhood-level knowledge centers, the students created socioeconomic, demographic, and environmental assessments of the people living in the ward. The figures informed a greater understanding of the situation on the ground and are informing the development of sectoral plans related to health, education, sanitation, and housing. The knowledge centers serve as a place for residents to become informed so that the people of M-Ward can assume leadership positions in the new development process.

"We want to demonstrate that we can be relevant in our own neighborhood," says Professor Parasuraman. "But it's not going to be easy." The municipality has largely overlooked M-Ward's issues (as opposed to Dharavi, where the city sees its plot of land as a gold mine). In addition, giving more land to the landless will be a difficult task. In M-Ward, 85 percent of the population occupies just 6 percent of the land. But the TISS group is not deterred: "We have a commitment to people living a dignified life in our own neighborhood."

Julisa Tambunan, Jakarta Community ManagerPosisi menentukan prestasi: menuju tata ruang yang adil di Jakarta

Julisa Tambunan, Jakarta Community Manager

Posisi menentukan prestasi: kiasan sekaligus lelucon yang sering digunakan oleh anak sekolah ketika menghadapi ujian tersebut agaknya tepat untuk menggambarkan situasi kota Jakarta. Dengan tata ruang yang semakin berantakan, siapa yang berada di posisi paling dekat dengan sumber daya akan mengeruk keuntungan lebih. Sementara itu, urusan tata ruang kota Jakarta selama ini mutlak dikuasai oleh pemerintah. Lalu bagaimana agar masyarakat bisa lebih terlibat dalam masalah tata ruang kota dan mendapatkan kesempatan yang sama? Rujak Center for Urban Studies merasa bahwa langkah pertama adalah mengedukasi warga mengenai tata kota.

Tata ruang dan kesempatan

Tata ruang kota sangat penting dalam mengarahkan kualitas hidup penduduknya. Tata ruang merupakan penentu bagaimana kota dibangun dalam jangka pendek, menengah maupun jangka panjang. Agar menjadi ruang yang layak huni bagi seluruh warganya, fungsi-fungsi kota harus tercipta melalui pemanfaatan ruang yang efisien. Dengan segala sumber dayanya, Jakarta yang memiliki luas lahan tak sampai 700 km2 ini idealnya harus dibagi rata oleh hampir 10 juta jiwa yang menghuninya.

Namun dalam kenyataannya, tak mudah untuk melakukan hal ini. Berbagai sumber daya terkonsentrasi di beberapa tempat dan hanya menguntungkan sejumlah pihak. Perencanaan tata ruang kota Jakarta tak memberikan cukup perhatian terhadap kebutuhan ruang kaum miskin dan terpinggirkan, sehingga akhirnya mereka terpaksa menempati sudut-sudut ruang kota yang tersisa seperti bantaran sungai, kolong jembatan, atau pun lahan terlantar lainnya. Kantong-kantong kemiskinan pun bertebaran di seluruh penjuru kota.

Rencana Tata Ruang Wilayah Jakarta untuk 20 tahun ke depan telah disahkan oleh Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah DKI Jakarta tahun lalu. Namun rencana tersebut dianggap lebih banyak berorientasi pada proyek dan tidak memberikan solusi untuk memulihkan Jakarta dari keruwetan yang ada saat ini. Pembangunan mal yang tidak proporsional mengganggu ekosistem kota dan membuat situasi semakin ruwet. Tata ruang yang buruk juga mengakibatkan permasalahan banjir semakin parah dan kemiskinan semakin menjadi. "Banyak manipulasi di tata ruang kota Jakarta. Banyak sekali pelanggaran. Ada ketidakmampuan Pemerintah DKI untuk mengendalikan keuangan dan keinginan publik," ujar Marco Kusumawijaya, Direktur dari Rujak Center for Urban Studies. Menurutnya, sebuah pemborosan ruang selalu mengorbakan tempat bagi fungsi-fungsi kota yang lain. Sehingga ia berpendapat sangatlah disayangkan jika pemanfaatan ruang yang tidak efisien itu ternyata hanya memberikan solusi sesaat.

"Menyederhanakan" tata ruang

Lantas, jika Jakarta milik semua warganya dan semua orang berhak mendapatkan kesempatan yang sama dalam mengakses sumber daya Jakarta, bagaimana solusi yang tepat dalam masalah tata ruang ini? Tak banyak warga yang paham soal tata ruang. Produk tata ruang yang ada selama ini adalah berupa dokumen-dokumen 'njelimet yang hanya bisa dimengerti oleh ahli tata kota. Selain itu, publikasi dan sosialisasi yang dilakukan oleh pemerintah kota sangatlah minim, sehingga warga seperti tak punya akses terhadap haknya menentukan wajah Jakarta.

Rujak Center for Urban Studies (RCUS) baru-baru ini meluncurkan media peraga dalam bentuk online bertajuk "Tata Ruang Untuk Kita" dengan tujuan membekali warga pengetahuan untuk memulai dari titik nol yang sama. RCUS percaya bahwa jika masyarakat diberi pengetahuan, maka mereka akan merasa tergelitik untuk berpartisipasi aktif dalam praktek penataan ruang. Karenanya, RCUS pun menyusun toolkit tersebut dalam bahasa yang mudah dimengerti dan dengan desain yang menarik. Panduan tersebut dapat di akses di sini. Sementara video dapat diakses di sini. Pembuatan paket toolkit video dan buku tersebut dibantu oleh seniman Tita Salina dan Irwan Ahmet.

Elisa Sutanudjaja, Program Manager di RCUS merasa bahwa memulai dari titik yang sama adalah penting. "Dulu hanya segelintir orang yang tahu kalau di daerah Pondok Indah akan dibangun jalan Arteri Pondok Indah yang menghubungkan banyak daerah strategis. Akibatnya, yang meraup keuntungan ya hanya segelintir orang itu saja, karena mereka lalu memutuskan untuk membeli lahan di sekitar jalan tersebut. Kalau saja lebih banyak orang yang tahu, tentu kesempatan bisa dibagi-bagi," ungkapnya. Elisa menambahkan bahwa kebanyakan warga tak menyadari hal-hal seperti penggunaan tanah untuk penahan air untuk mencegah banjir atau setinggi apa bangunan rumah yang baik.

Struktur Kota Yang Pro-manusia

Menurut ahli perkotaan dan juga pengajar di Universitas Tarumanegara, Prof. Jo Santoso, jika saja Jakarta memiliki konsep penataan kota yang "pro-poor" atau mengutamakan orang miskin, maka harusnya kawasan kumuh dapat ditransformasi sehingga ruang hunian dan aktivitas sosial dari kaum miskin tak lagi teralienasi atau tersegregasi dari warga kota Jakarta yang lain. Dengan pengembangan tata ruang yang baik, maka akan ada keseimbangan dalam kesempatan untuk memanfaatkan sumber daya yang dimiliki Jakarta.

RCUS berpendapat bahwa struktur kota Jakarta saat ini yang lebih mengutamakan kendaraan bermotor daripada manusianya menyebabkan tingginya panjang perjalanan perkapita karena pusat-pusat kegiatan terpisah jauh akibat jalan yang lebar dan kebutuhan areal parkir. Dari aspek sosial, struktur semacam ini menyebabkan warga terasing di kotanya sendiri Ruang geraknya terbatas pada skala kecil di sekitar tempat tinggalnya.

Marco Kusumawijaya berujar bahwa, “Membangun kota bukan permasalahan sekali jadi. Ada proses yang bukan berkaitan dengan demokratisasi saja, tapi juga dengan pengetahuan sebanyak mungkin mengenai tata kota." Dengan mengedukasi warga mengenai tata ruang, RCUS yakin bahwa warga bisa ikut terlibat dan membuat perubahan. Mereka bisa membuat keputusan yang tepat sehubungan dengan lingkungan mereka dan berkontribusi mendisain kota yang efisien dan pro-manusia. Sebab, selain efisien, pemanfaatan ruang juga harus adil. Tidak ada fungsi yang mendominasi ruang kota dan mengorbankan fungsi yang lain. Jika dilakukan dengan efisien, maka tata ruang tidak akan mengorbankan fungsi kota lainnya seperti ruang terbuka hijau atau ruang publik tempat warga berkumpul. "Orang menganggap tata kota itu urusan para ahli, padahal urusan penataan ini sebenarnya dilakukan oleh orang dalam kesehariannya, di keputusan-keputusan yang ia buat," ungkap Marco.

Silahkan baca lebih lanjut mengenai kampanye Tata Ruang Untuk Kita.

María Fernanda Carvallo, Mexico City Community ManagerBrecha digital: reducción de las disparidades en el acceso a las TIC como herramienta para el desarrollo

María Fernanda Carvallo, Mexico City Community Manager

Investigadores pertenecientes a la Asociación Latinoamericana de Investigadores de la Comunicación (ALAIC), afirman que las TIC constituyen hoy en día un factor nuevo que se suma a la brecha de la desigualdad social, ya que el acceso a ellas ocasiona un distanciamiento cultural entre quienes la usan y aquellos sectores de la población que no tienen la posibilidad. Además del distanciamiento social, dicho factor provoca un fenómeno educativo de analfabetismo digital, que consiste en la incapacidad para el uso de estas nuevas tecnologías.


De acuerdo al Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), TIC se refiere al conjunto de tecnologías que conforman la sociedad de la información, entre ellas, informática, internet, multimedia y aquellos sistemas de telecomunicaciones que permiten su distribución. México en el ámbito internacional presenta un rezago digital, que al interior del país representa mayor disparidad. De acuerdo a la definición de las Tic, el Internet juega un papel fundamental; cifras de INEGI demuestran que para el año 2000, de cada 10 mil habitantes solamente 80 mexicanos eran usuarios de internet. Lo anterior se traduce que entre el 83 y el 85 por ciento de las personas eran analfabetas informáticos, es decir, del universo de 97 millones de mexicanos 81 millones no sabían manejar una computadora. En el caso del Distrito Federal, 10 por ciento de sus habitantes tenían acceso a Internet, un porcentaje relativamente alto si se compara con los estados del sureste en donde solamente el 4 por ciento de la población tiene acceso a la red.

Para el 2011, según un estudio de la Asociación Mexicana de Internet (AMPICI), en México había 40.6 millones de usuarios de Internet, siendo el Distrito Federal uno de los tres Estados con mayor internautas, 4,479,080 que tienen accesibilidad por medio de la Pc, Laptop y Smartphone; cuya principal actividad es el uso de Internet para la búsqueda de información. A pesar de que el Distrito Federal tiene cifras elevadas con respecto al resto del país, el impacto de la inaccesibilidad a las tecnologías repercute en falta de oportunidades para la población más marginada y la que vive en condiciones de pobreza.

En este sentido, las disparidades entre la población que cuenta con acceso y la que no, se traduce en una Brecha Digital en México. De acuerdo a Serrano y Martínez, en su artículo "La Brecha Digital: Mitos y Realidades", esta se define "como la separación que existe entre las personas (comunidades, estados, países…) que utilizan las Tecnologías de Información y Comunicación (TIC) como una parte rutinaria de su vida diaria y aquellas que no tienen acceso a las mismas y que aunque las tengan no saben cómo utilizarlas". Esta brecha se construye por tres factores 1) tecnológicos, que implica proveer la infraestructura requerida para que las personas entre a la Sociedad de la Información y el Conocimiento, 2) de conocimiento, que incluye las habilidades que deben de poseer las personas para la apropiación de las herramientas tecnológicas para la incorporación de su uso en sus prácticas culturales cotidianas, y 3) de participación, de manera que los individuos puedan emplear los aportes de la convergencia tecnológica de manera que tengan las mismas oportunidades para manifestarse, participar e intervenir en las decisiones de la sociedad. En este sentido, la Brecha digital implica tratar las tres dimensiones para obtener una infraestructura con acceso e igualdad de oportunidades.


Para combatir el analfabetismo digital consecuente de la brecha, es necesario crear un entorno de competencia digital, de manera que todo los mexicanos se incorporen a la Sociedad de la Información y del Conocimiento, es decir, habilidades para: buscar, obtener, procesar y comunicar información, y finalmente transformarla en conocimiento para ser interiorizado en la dinámica de cada individuo. En palabras de los investigadores de la ALAIC, disponer de información no es suficiente para la producción de conocimiento, el gran reto consiste en desarrollar las habilidades para transformar la información en conocimiento, lo cual requiere destrezas de organización, relación, análisis, síntesis y de inferencia y deducción de diferentes niveles de complejidad; es decir la comprensión y su integración en los esquemas previos de conocimiento. Continuando con el argumento, la alfabetización digital creará dicha competencia, por medio de la acción organizada, infraestructural y metodológicamente, para incorporar personas, independiente de su punto de partida y condición social o cultural, a las corrientes de conocimiento con respecto a las TIC. La alfabetización digital se desarrolla en tres líneas, 1) la formación para habilitar el acceso a las TIC, 2) el desarrollo de centros de acceso a fin de proveer igualdad de oportunidades y 3) la participación comunitaria para la inclusión de la persona en las corrientes de generación de intercambio de conocimiento de su comunidad.

En este sentido, las personas con acceso a las TIC participan en un proceso educativo que los convierte en agentes de su propio desarrollo al incorporar en su vida habitual nuevas formas de hacer, que brinda oportunidades para la implementación de medios de vida. De acuerdo a la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (UNESCO) y el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), el fomento al acceso e interiorización de las TIC en la población es un medio para acelerar el proceso de crecimiento económico y generación de riqueza, que a su vez representa la oportunidad de promover la equidad y disminuir la pobreza.

Dada la relevancia del tema, el acceso a las TIC para reducir la Brecha Digital se ha incorporado en las políticas públicas de los Estados bajo el acceso a la infraestructura tecnológica, sin embargo es importante enfatizar en políticas que doten a las personas de las capacidades educativas y cognitivas que les permita interiorizar el uso de la información para mejorar su calidad de vida.

Caso de Estudio: Tecnología al Alcance de Todos

El Comité para la Democratización de la Informática (CDI) es una organización internacional fundada en 1995 cuyo objetivo es llevar la informática a las comunidades menos favorecidas, actúa bajo el lema "tecnología al alcance de todos". Su misión es promover la inclusión social de las comunidades más vulnerables, utilizando las tecnologías de la información y comunicación como instrumento para la construcción y el ejercicio de la ciudadanía.

Inició en Brasil con una escuela comunitaria en uno de los barrios más pobres y con gran índice de delictivo, Morro dos Macacos, ampliando su intervención a otros países por medio de la construcción de la Red CDI. Dicha red está regida por la matriz en Brasil, sin embargo cada centro regional tiene autonomía para la adaptación local y reproducción del modelo pedagógico. En el presente año, CDI cumple 10 años en México, trabajando con zonas marginadas y colonias populares del Distrito Federal y en 50 puntos más en el resto del país.

El CDI persigue el empoderamiento de los individuos para transformar sus vidas y la de sus comunidades, Ricardo Barrientos, Director de CDI en México afirma que buscan abatir la Brecha Digital y transformarla en una oportunidad de desarrollo, a través de la instalación de aulas comunitarias para el acceso y capacitación de la tecnología, puesto que esta es un diferencial para la vida de las personas.

Cada comité administra un grupo de CDI's comunitarias, que constituyen espacios no formales de enseñanza, creados por medio de alianzas con centros comunitarios, entidades de clase, grupos religiosos y asociaciones civiles, entre otros movimientos asociativos. Los CDI's Comunidad son creadas para aplicar programas educativos y profesionales con el objetivo de reintegrar a los miembros de comunidades con pocos recursos, especialmente niños y jóvenes, disminuyendo así el nivel de exclusión al que son sujetos; pues bien la tecnología se ocupa como un instrumento del individuo y su comunidad. En estos programas, el CDI promueve también el conocimiento en materia de ciudadanía, ecología, salud, derechos humanos y la no violencia.

El CDI Comunidad es un aula de cómputo con 10 a 15 computadoras conectadas a internet de banda ancha, ofrece cursos y servicios digitales a los miembros de la comunidad en donde es instalado. Se instala en articulación con actores locales que ofrecen un espacio físico, así como equipo de gestión que se hace cargo de las operaciones del CDI Comunidad. Los CDI Comunidad tienen como objetivo principal que los miembros de la comunidad puedan ejercer activamente su ciudadanía en la vida cotidiana, promoviendo reflexiones que muestren que es posible soñar y cambiar la realidad personal y colectiva. Este objetivo permite fundamentarse en cuatro dimensiones:

  • Desarrollar la concepción de ciudadanía crítica, emprendedora, protagonista, activa y colectiva de los individuos y comunidades donde actuamos.
  • Valorizar al ser humano en sus capacidades individuales y sociales.
  • Optar por la transformación social para la construcción de una nueva realidad, a través del trabajo de todos los involucrados para la reducción de las desigualdades sociales.
  • Utilizar las TIC como un acelerador para el desarrollo social.

El conocimiento generado en el aula se transforma en proyectos comunitarios, o en capacidades para implementar un negocio, entre otras. Actualmente en México se está trabajando con emprendedores para que puedan incorporar las tecnologías a sus negocios, puesto que el CDI detectó una gran necesidad en materia de tecnología.

Además de empoderar al individuo para la generación de alternativas de vida, la dinámica del aula se basa en el trabajo en equipo, lo que promueve el fortalecimiento del capital social comunitario. En este sentido, tanto en México como en Brasil, integrantes de las comunidades han promovido mejoras de su entorno; la tecnología ha permitido obtener información que se traduce en conocimiento para resolver las problemática comunitarias.

Para la ejecución de su misión, el CDI subsiste por medio de donativos, fondos provenientes de programas sociales del gobierno y de proyectos de responsabilidad social de las empresas. Así mismo, cualquier comunidad puede acudir para implementar le proceso en su localidad, ya sean organizaciones locales o gobiernos, bajo un esquema de corresponsabilidad.

A través de su estrategia, el CDI ha dotado a los individuos de alternativas de vida, oportunidades en el futuro y estrategias para la generación de ingresos. Además de combatir la Brecha Digital, el uso y acceso al as tecnologías ha brindado opciones a las personas para romper con el ciclo de la pobreza y alejarse de malas prácticas como la delincuencia. Así mismo, el uso de metodologías participativas en las comunidades marginadas encamina la apropiación creativa de las nuevas tecnologías de la información para promover el desarrollo sostenible comunitario.


La incorporación de estrategias para promover el acceso y uso de las TIC en zonas marginadas debe contemplar la adopción de una cultura digital, de manera que la población pueda acceder a la Sociedad de la Información. En este sentido, las políticas públicas y programas deberán asegurar la igualdad de oportunidades a través de una sinergia de actores de manera que se amplíen las capacidades de las personas para la búsqueda y aplicación de la información en pro de su bienestar.

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community ManagerRio de Janeiro's beach vendors

Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community Manager

From Flamengo to Grumari, Rio de Janeiro has some 34 kilometers of splendid beaches. These public spaces are among the city's most valuable gems — not only for their natural beauty integrated into the urban landscape, but because they enable locals and tourists alike to congregate, seemingly without divisions by age, race, or economic background. All mix happily, enjoying the laid-back and open atmosphere the city is known for.

Rio's beaches are also known for the diversity of recreational and vending activities. In fact, Rio's beaches are populated by hundreds of vendors offering a broad range of products, from soft drinks, juices, Mate tea, beer, and coconut water to kibbe, the local Globo biscuits, and ice cream. Some others vendors sell beach products such as swimming suits and sun blocks. There are also beach stalls offering drinks and rented umbrellas and chairs.

Most beach vendors advertise their products out loud as they walk by; they even allow curious customers to take a look at their products and don't pressure them to make a purchase. Other vendors make jokes and amusing advertising campaigns to sell their products. These market-type scenes on most of the beaches in Rio are a lively ritual that many people appreciate.

But how is it possible for these public spaces to be so hectic and "organized" at the same time?

There are several positive developments that the city is undertaking to make Rio's beaches safer and more organized public spaces. First, the local government of Rio has been promoting the organization of beach vendors. Since mid-2009, beach vendors were asked to re-register in a city database system to enable the local government to know who those vendors are and what their main commercial products are. The city has also issued a series of guidelines and regulations for vendors to follow. For example, glass bottles cannot be sold, nor can many perishable foods, such as cheese and milk; and stall vendors must either adjust their existing tents or buy new ones so they all can be standardized in a specific pattern. In addition, the city issues permits for vendors to work at the beach and actively monitors compliance with safety and sanitary regulations. As of now, there are more than 800 licensed beach stall vendors and approximately 1,300 independent vendors. All of them are allowed to work from 7am to 8pm. An additional positive development is that the local government is encouraging the formalization of these beach vendors' status, so that they have more secure and stable incomes.

In addition to all these initiatives, the local government has recently declared in early 2012 the Mate tea, lemonade, and Globo biscuit vendors as "intangible cultural heritage" for Rio de Janeiro. This is a very positive development, as these vendors were once banned from operating on Rio's beaches, but locals complained and insisted that they wanted those vendors back. Now, they are not only back in operation, but have been declared icons of the city, contributing to the preservation of local traditions — and, more importantly, contributing to the protection of these vendors' livelihoods.

This initiative will bring vendors an opportunity to legalize their commercial activities and become formal vendors. It is expected that around 1200 vendors will be directly benefiting from this initiative. Mr. Jose de Oliveira Dias, whose known as "Seu Ze" and who has been selling Mate tea for 35 years in several of Rio's beaches, has publicly expressed how proud he feels with this recognition and he only sees the benefits of more formalization within his field of work.

Still, the local government can promote more protection and safety to beach vendors. For example, the local government could consider providing storage places for vendors, so they don't have to deal with the logistics of transporting their commercial material. In addition, better facilities such as lavatories, showers, and lockers could also support the vendors' activities and improve the quality of their beautiful but tough work environment.

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