InfoLadies of Bangladesh revolutionize rural life

Bangladesh's Infoladies ride from village to village on bicycles, toting netbooks and mobile phones, and set up infobooths where they use net-gathered info to teach hygiene, help with childbirth, assist with crop problems, and so on. There's an army of them.

"Ask me about the pest that's infecting your crop, common skin diseases, how to seek help if your husband beats you or even how to stop having children, and I may have a solution," says a confident Akhter.

"An InfoLady's netbook is loaded with content especially compiled and translated in local Bangla language," says Mohammed Forhad Uddin of D.Net, a not-for-profit research organisation that is pioneering access to livelihood information.

"It provides answers and solutions to some of the most common problems faced by people in villages."

In Bangladesh this means nearly three-quarters of the nearly 160 million that live in rural areas. From agriculture to health, sanitation and disaster management, the content follows simple text, pictures and engaging multimedia animations to include all users, many of whom are illiterate.

"I love the cartoon that tells about brushing teeth and hygiene," says 10-year-old Shamshul.

It took a just a brief meeting with an InfoLady for 60-year-old Nahar Hossain to finally identify the pest that destroyed his rice fields year after year. "She matched the picture of my crop with the one on her TV [netbook] and recommended a certain pesticide. I haven't had problems since," says Hossain, who had spent a lot of time and money seeking government help to no avail.

Two-wheel triumph

(via Beyond the Beyond)