An article in Businessweek caught my eye the other day. I’ve very slightly edited the material below so it fits without my quoting the whole extensive article. It’s worth reading the original article though as it explains even more ways that technology is being used to benefit India’s poor.
Also of interest is that the villagers must queue at two windows to get their printout, and that they need to repeat this activity (presumably) each time they need the information, which seems to be two or three times per year.
In Karnataka [India] … deed fraud once cost poor farmers $20 million a year; today, the problem has been virtually wiped out, according to the World Bank. Five years ago, the Karnataka state government launched a program to computerize the land records of 6.7 million farmers in 30,000 villages. Today, the information is available in Kannada, the local language, through 200 government-owned computer kiosks in administrative offices across the state.
Farmers from nearby villages can use the terminal to see computerized copies of the deeds to the tiny patches of wheat, rice, and vegetables they till for a living. Once they’ve checked their information, they can get a printed copy of their records at a neighboring window for just 30 cents.
Until the records were computerized, the deeds were controlled by powerful village accountants. These men routinely charged poor farmers anywhere from $2 to $22 for a copy — which they typically need two or three times a year when they ask banks for loans to pay for fertilizer, seeds, and crop insurance.
[Via: Manjeet Kripalani’s article at businessweek.]