It’s been quite a week in Kano (well 9 days really). I’ll summarize some of the work and experiences that I’ve had so far. Let me just say there are tons of great photos from the folks that have been in Kano this week but there is no point that we will have enough of an Internet connection to upload many of them (Eugene Kim of Blue Oxen Associates will be in the US soon and will most likely have a lot of pictures/videos online).

First off Sunday concluded the IIE/LDM meeting of country managers.  Represented was India, Pakistan, Phillipines, Ethiopia, and Nigeria (dRPC).  In addition Scott and I along with Eugene participated in some of the discussions involving especially technology strategies.  I gathered a lot of information to contribute back into the database application that I am finishing for IIE/LDM called “Insaan” (the urdu word for human).

Second Scott, Eugene and I visited with two organizations affiliated with dRPC to interview with regards to information technology capacity.  The first group the Community Health Research Initiative led by Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba specializes in health research to influence public policy in Nigeria.  Dr. Magashi was mostly concerned with capacity around data collection and analysis but also interested in developing there web precense so they could control and update in-house.  The second organization was the Coalition of Budget Advocates in Kano (COBTAK).  This coalition of about 20 Kano-based NGOs was interested in developing the ICT capacity of its member organizations as well as further supporting promoting its work on good governance.  With some funds from the European Union they acquired space and a set of computers (none of which have been put to use yet).  This coalition has plans for an computer training center to support the work of NGOs in Kano. Lastly we were able to visit the British Council where we toured the facilities and interviewed staff about the programs.  In general these are the best facilities I’ve seen anywhere in Kano.  There are new computers, high speed access and high security.  While they offer trainings on Internet use their focus is young professionals and do not focus much on the NGO or community organizations in Kano.  However I think there may be room to negotiate use of their facilities on off-days to offer trainings… we’ll have to follow up on this.

Next we went with the IIE country managers on a study tour of Katsina which is several hours north of Kano.  In short this trip was next to mind-blowing… the main critique was that nobody had enough time to take it all in.  Our first stop was in Katsina to meet with members (and LDM fellows) of the Sharia Commision of Katsina state.  We then picked up Alhaji Magagi Zandam (sp?) the traditional leader of a group of remote villages bordering Niger.  We had a tour of a village medical center and learned about Magagi’s or maternal health related projects.  This is a major example of the success of the LDM program especially since Magagi told me that he did not even believe in HIV/AIDS before his first LDM sponsored training on maternal health.  We left the village to pay a courtesy visit to the Emir of Katsina (the top rank of the traditional royalty whom apparently were “absorbed” by Islam during the Jihads led by Usman dan Fodio against the Hausa, see wikipedia). The visit with the Emir was also a unique experience that is difficult to explain.  The last part of this trip involved a tour of the minisitry of health facilities in Katsina State.  The Katsina State government is building an impressive hospital dedicated to maternal health!!!  And there are using only government funds to do it!!  This is quite amazing undertaking and is very close to opening (inshallah).

The rest of the week we worked on technology planning and training and finally got a visit with CITAD to discuss trainings we are going to carry out starting July 3 on website design and development.  I’ll write about that outcome after this Thursday.  It should be a great learning experience for Scott and I.  Additional we’re going to work with dRPC and IIE/LDM on developing their websites.  We met also with LDM fellows that came to a training on Facilitative Leadership.  These health fellows we hope to visit to discuss technology issues. Especially a group in Kaduna that has a computer literacy center and focuses on health education for youth.

Today (July 1) we went with YZ Yau of CITAD to the Kano ICT Park “interactive meeting”.  This was an interesting couple of hours that again probably deserves its own post.

Now I’m continuing development of Insaan (rh leaders database), planning for the upcoming web design trainings, developing a plan to upgrade the website and IT skills of dRPC, developing a plan for the IIE/LDM website and finally working out the details of a continuing GIIP-IIE/LDM partnership (the main goal of my trip here).

If I haven’t emailed or called yet to check-in I apologize.  The inconsistent connection and power make this difficult and slightly annoying.  I can send my Nigerian cell phone number (shared with Scott) to you if you email me or send me a message.

Sai Anjima!