The Mesh Network Project in Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura will be launched today at the Horizon Lanka Foundation.
In January 2005, Horizon Lanka Foundation received a grant from the Pan Asia R&D Grants Program for the deployment of a community mesh network for 30 children’s homes in Mahawilachchiya. Enterprise Technology (Pvt) Ltd (ETPL) was responsible for the implementation of the project.
Mesh networking consists a series of smart digital devices called routers or ‘Meshboxes’, which use infrared or radio waves, to carry high speed wireless connection over a wide area. This type of networking is unique, and is currently being used by local financial institutions like banks to transfer data between branches.
The e-Village concept took off with a pilot project in Mahawilachchiya, a small village in the North Central Province. The village, with limited access to resources and few opportunities for its youth benefited greatly through the introduction of ICT. Through dedicated teachers, individuals and organizations, the village youth were empowered with the knowledge and skills needed to access the means for a better quality life.
An example of the impact the partners’ contribution and efforts have made on the village is how secondary level students are now commissioned to design websites and are currently earning more than their parents who are mostly farmers.
The Mahawilachchiya e-Village with its high density of computers is a significant chapter in ICT development in the country. Over 400 rural students receive ICT education and it is the only rural Sri Lankan village with 24 hours ICT connectivity. This is symbolic and a message for marginal level communities all over the world.
Internet access is largely perceived as a way to reduce isolation, provide educational and economic opportunities, and ultimately improve the quality of life. Unfortunately, high capital and operating costs have limited rural access to a handful of heavily subsidized and supported demonstration projects in Sri Lanka. This innovative integrated strategy, based on existing technology and rural social structures, addresses a variety of barriers and could ultimately help large numbers of villagers to become ICT literate.