The students watched the videos in the school’s computer lab.
Photo: © Maximo Torero

16.06.2017

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There is an increasing interest to adopt Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to provide farmers with agricultural advice. However, large levels of ICT illiteracy among farmers in developing countries are frequently an obstacle to implementation. The article shows an innovative approach to bypass this constraint by channelling information through children of the households.

In many development programmes, children are looked at only as potential beneficiaries. A research programme called ‘Happy Faces’, however, is studying how children themselves can be the catalysts for change. The programme explores how giving schoolchildren information can improve the health and welfare not only of children themselves, but of entire households. The advantage of working with kids is that they have a higher level of education than their parents, and it is therefore easy to transfer information to them and from them to their peers. The project team hopes that by directly targeting kids, its strategies will improve children’s and their families’ wellbeing through increased access to information. Here, we are making use of the insight that children have had a strong impact on marketing and other information dissemination strategies, such as a Thai anti-smoking campaign. But while children’s influence on adult decision-making has been studied in other disciplines for a long time, until recently, the subject has remained largely unexplored in development economics.

Level 1: From kids to kids

In the project’s first phase, researchers were curious to see if children change their own behaviour in response to simple messages given to them at school.

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