Dominican Republic
Project DR-305

Assessment of IAF
Financial Support for Centro Alternativo Rural
El Limón –CAREL

The main aim of the project was to create the Rural Center of Information Technology (CRTI) with computer equipment to produce educational materials such as CD-ROMs and other audiovisual materials in order to disseminate sustainable farming and ranching practices as well as the use of information technology (IT) for other community development projects. Once in operation, the Center would be able to provide:

-         Organization of basic computer training courses (Ex: use of Windows, the Internet and so on), open to the community at large.

-         Specific capacity building courses in IT for the production of computerized educational materials for 20 teenagers in El Limón.

-         IT training courses for 100 people in 15 other communities, using the original 20 teenagers from El Limón as multipliers. This would not only involve basic courses in the use of computers for communities or villages in the region, but also specialization in producing products and services (propaganda materials, call cards, typing out texts and tables, the use of digital imaging technology).

The key factor that would make the El Limón project unique – and so, different from the “classic” rural development projects – was the result of IAF having consulted with Cornell University at Ithaca, New York (conducted by the Dominican Republic LLAS) as to the possible interest of any sector of the university to co-participate in a project to help El Limón. The Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy (CRESP) at Cornell University, that already had prior experience in similar work and making use of its EcoPartners project, sent one of its volunteer professors, engineer John Katz, to El Limón for a preliminary evaluation.

Once the evaluation was concluded, Katz was able to conceive of a plan involving two parallel lines of action, both focused on technological issues. The first would be the generation and distribution of electric power and the second, the dissemination of knowledge using computerized media through a to-be-created Computer Center.