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Honduras Project: Update on WIDeST—Web-based Information Delivery System for Tilapia

by Brahm Verma and Jennifer Maldonado

ountries with predominantly small and medium-scale farms, poor infrastructure for transportation and communication, and limited material resources typically have large populations with marginal economic income.

Development efforts in these countries have tended to focus on the provision of technical assistance to enhance agricultural productivity, sometimes at the cost of exploiting natural resources to unsustainable levels. Lack of access to information that can lead to creative alternatives for economic development is a great impediment in making informed decisions.

The primary purpose of this CRSP project is to develop an integrated framework in Honduras that supports a systematic method of creating partnerships and communication among stakeholders and to build decision-making capacity locally. The target group is small- and medium-scale farmers.

Project team members from the University of Georgia, Athens, the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana, Auburn University, the Red de Desarrollo Sostenible–Honduras (RDS–HN) are developing the user-friendly Web-based Information Delivery System for Tilapia (WIDeST) and using it to bring Zamorano, local NGOs and extension agents, and the US universities together in partnership. WIDeST is a central feature of workshop sessions for training host country trainers who will then train small and medium-scale farmers.

In user-friendly websites for decision-making, users can be
Jennifer Maldonado—“Being a Content Analyst” course, Zamorano, Honduras,
June 2002.
immersed in critical thinking and decision-making without the distraction of unneeded pages. The current WIDeST site <www.acuacultura-ca.org.hn> is being redesigned to focus on user needs. We are restructuring the architecture and presenting multi–ple navigation options for different users. In the new streamlined design, users will work less and think more.

Like in the production of a film, roles people play must be clearly identified for making an effective website. Our project team has jointly outlined production roles. We have identified and assigned critical roles: a content coordinator, a content analyst, a junior producer, a senior producer, and a promoter.

Information flows through these positions and is presented online and promoted if it has been 1) identified as a need or a trend by our content coordinator, 2) rewritten for web presentation and categorized by the content analyst, 3) posted to the web by the junior producer, or 4) passed to the senior producer for complex programming.

All roles are important, yet it is the content analyst that focuses on user needs and content assessment. This role guarantees good website usability. As a way to build capacity in the host country, in June, Jennifer Maldonado from the University of Georgia taught a course in Honduras on “being a website content analyst.”

Maldonado used the redesign of <www.acuacultura-ca.org.hn> as a demonstration for teaching the content analyst’s role. Capacity-building interventions by donor countries that offer technical assistance end up being temporary fixes until the time when the sponsoring entities depart.

The challenge is to conceptualize ways for small-scale farmers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and decision-makers in host countries to easily find usable data and knowledge and to develop the know-how to use to them for decision-making. These abilities will institutionalize host countries capacity for economic development.


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