Internet Anti-Poverty Program Gets Local Face

MANILA (03/13/2000) - The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Cisco Systems Inc. have localized their NetAid Program by setting up a Philippine Web site and tying up with the government's anti-poverty initiatives.

The Web site, set to go live this month, will feature local content such as information on the state of the country's poor, government anti-poverty programs, and links to relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Noel Rivera, country manager of Cisco Systems Philippines, said the company will host the local UNDP site on its servers. "This joint venture will be in our list of priorities since our technical expertise, manpower, and network technology will be utilized to help fight poverty in the country."

UNDP resident representative Terence Jones said the UNDP also hopes to incorporate e-commerce elements in the local NetAid site, such as online contributions and a virtual marketplace where NGOs and small businesses can advertise and sell their wares or services.

Jones added that UNDP volunteers are currently working with a NetAid team in New York to expand NetAid initiatives by creating a model and prototype module for online volunteering.

"Through the NetAid Web site, NGOs can post online volunteering assignments and interested people can contribute their time and skills online also. It is volunteering without being physically present," Jones said.

The anti-poverty organization has also tied up with the Community-Based Poverty Information Monitoring System, an initiative of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Anti-Poverty Council.

The initiative, called the Bantay-Unlad Program, involves the setting up of an online poverty information tracking system in preselected local government units. The system will monitor the extent of poverty in an area and create an online database on which anti-poverty projects can be based.

As an initial support to the program, Cisco Systems donated notebook computers while its partners Compaq Computer Philippines and AccessNet Philippines donated one workstation each. Among the provinces selected as pilot sites for the program are Basilan, Palawan, Bataan and Abra.

Meanwhile, Systems Technology Institute Inc. (STI) branches in areas nearest the computer recipient will train local personnel assigned to do data gathering and encoding.

The Bantay-Unlad Program will also link with DoctorGeorge.com, a Web-based clinic that offers free online medical consultations 24-hours a day.

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