Knowledge sharing for the rural poor

In recent years, VU researchers have been developing an emergent field of “Computer Science for Development”. Independently, Organization Science researchers have been investigating the social context of “Knowledge Management for Development”. This proposed collaboration brings together the expertise of these two groups, toward the development of a platform for effective curation, creation and sharing of knowledge for the rural poor in developing countries. A mixed-method synthesis of these research efforts will provide new insights in ICT4D in general and CS4D in particular.

Knowledge sharing is a key influence on development of the rural poor, with ICT as a critical enabler, providing for instance critical market data or weather information to sustenance farmers, through low-tech, mobile or radio technologies. However, ICT4D initiatives often remain largely tool-oriented, limiting their scope and relevance to a specific context.

In this project, we take a Linked Data approach, thereby adding a new dimension to ICT4D research and practice. Linked Data allows for flexible, multi-layered knowledge sharing, independent of infrastructure and interfaces. We will generate a flexible platform, based on Linked Data and web standards, enabling researchers in low-tech/lo-fi environments to quickly develop prototype applications that can be tested and deployed in the target areas. This allows for agile development of living labs, toward contextually-tailored information sharing via voice-, web-, or icon-based interfaces. We seek to a) investigate current methods of and approaches to knowledge creation and curation in target communities and b) design and implement a platform that allows for rapid-prototyping of knowledge sharing applications.

This project will be embedded in running research of the established Web for Regreening in Africa (W4RA) alliance. W4RA provides a useful case of sharing pluviometric information, relevant to sustenance farmers in rural Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and allows for field work and platform testing in the target areas.

For a further description of the project, please visit or

Read the report of the 2nd Syposium on ICT for Development (ICT4D 2015) here (PDF).

Read the “Knowledge Sharing for the Rural Poor” BLOG

Live blog feed from the W4RA website

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