Language: a barrier to development?

John Dada and his team are always mindful of the need to provide information for the commnunity which they serve in the local language(s). For example, recently sickle cell information was translated from English into Hausa and this process is to be repeated for other educational data. It was therefore very interesting to read John's recent email (shared below), which explains this issue of language in more detail.


"Fantsuam Foundation,  has been reaching out to underserved rural populations since 2001. Its services addresses information poverty, providing services that unlocks computer and internet opportunities for threatened minority languages, people with low vision and people with sickle cell disease in Nigeria. Fantsuam’s holistic approach to local community development relates to all of the MDGs and this integrated model has been successfully tested at international level.

Nearly eighty percent of Nigeria's over 500 languages are spoken in the "Middle Belt", an area roughly sandwiched in between larger ethnic groups in the country. Despite a lack of sufficient data, the languages of Southern Kaduna are undoubtedly endangered, understudied minority languages that have fewer than one million native speakers.

Indigenous tribes in the Kafanchan area cannot access our organization’s computers and internet services due to language barrier. The fact that these populations cannot read or write in English creates a great barrier for them, this is despite the fact that they are custodians of their rich oral culture, information, knowledge and skills.

The first preliminary digital documentation of some of these languages have been started by Fantsuam Foundation .
Fantsuam believes that access to relevant information on the internet in the appropriate format and local language is one of the keys to achieving the MDG goals of poverty reduction in Nigeria."