The IT charity Computer Aid International has celebrated a significant milestone – the delivery of its 200,000th PC to worthy causes in the developing world.
I have no problem in admitting a high degree of bias in proclaiming this achievement and giving it a shameless plug – I’m a big fan of Computer Aid, I’ve worked with them professionally and personally for a number of years, and I’m proud to say that two publications I’ve edited have made important contributions to their cause. Computer Weekly is a supporter, and we provide a lot of free promotion for the charity’s events.
But this isn’t about doing our bit for “charidee” – it’s about a small UK charity, with limited resources but a committed group of people, proving what a huge contribution technology can make to education, healthcare, food security and economic development in countries less financially privileged than our own.
Here’s a statement from Computer Aid, released to mark the 200,000 milestone, that explains more:
The 200,000 donated PCs have provided over one billion usable IT hours to not-for-profit organisations in Africa and Latin America. They are being used to support the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating poverty, enriching education and improving health and medical care in the developing world:
- Education – The majority of PCs are used in education, enabling children and adults to gain the IT skills necessary to enter further education and obtain higher-paid employment.
- Health – With IT, rural doctors and nurses can connect to specialists in city centres and participate in e-learning courses, helping them access the support and training they need to provide life-saving medical care to rural populations.
- Agriculture – Access to IT allows farmers to find and share information with other communities and keep up to date with weather forecasts, helping them to increase crop growth. Once harvested, the internet can also help farmers gain entry to new markets.
Much as technology has become essential to the business success of western companies, IT has become essential to international development. The days when cynics would cry that starving families need food and water not computers, are over – by which I don’t mean that computers are a higher priority than food and water, but that without technology the long-term, sustainable provision of those basic needs is a lot harder to achieve.
There’s an old cliché about international development work that says: give someone a fish and you feed them for a day; give them a fishing rod and you feed them for life. It’s now true to say that if you give them access to a computer too, they’ll know where the fish are, what bait to use, when to fish, and which market will give them the best price. And then you don’t just ensure someone has food on the table, you ensure the growth of their income, the stability of their family, an education for their children, and the long-term development of their community.
Computer Aid, like every charity, needs cash to do its good work. Uniquely, it also needs your PCs and laptops. Every PC you would otherwise dispose of can be recycled and reused overseas for a great cause. All those 200,000 PCs were donated by businesses and individuals, and more are needed – Computer Aid needs a further 50,000 computers in the next 12 months, such is the demand for the equipment and services it provides. That’s where you and the IT community come in.
Computer Weekly research identified that Windows 7 upgrades are going to be one of the biggest initiatives for many IT leaders this year – that, presumably, means a lot of PC refreshes. And that means a lot of equipment that could go through Computer Aid to do great things in developing countries.
Computer Aid’s largest donor to date is retailer Sainsbury’s, which has provided nearly 5,500 PCs and laptops, plus more than 6,000 monitors – a contribution that adds up to thousands of hours of education, of life-saving medical work, of community-building agricultural development.
What possible reason can you have for not wanting to be a part of that?
To find out more about donating PCs to Computer Aid and the charity’s free professional decommissioning services please contact the organisation on 020 8361 5540, e-mail [email protected], or visit www.computeraid.org. Do it now.