RITI-Access and Peace Corps Collaborate in Romania
The Romanian Information Technology Initiative (RITI) - Access project, implemented by dot-ORG, has developed a close working relationship with the Peace Corps/Romania office. RITI-Access and Peace Corps are working together to further economic and social development in Romania through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
This collaboration has taken the form of work plan development, co-organizing training and capacity building programs, and using Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) for ongoing project management and local partner development.
Work Plan Development
The collaboration between Peace Corps Senior Management and RITI-Access began in September 2002, soon after the launch of the RITI-Access program. Peace Corps/Romania Director Candy Mirrer (who was formerly heading her own company in Silicon Valley working with IT clients) initiated the collaboration by assisting RITI-Access in the design of its work plan and ICT interventions in Romania.
Building Capacity of the JVA
In January 2003, Peace Corps and RITI-Access collaborated to build the capacity of a key local partner, the Jiu Valley Association (JVA), located in an economically depressed coal mining region of Romania. Peggy Willens, a Peace Corps Volunteer working with the Timiosoara municipality, co-led a training program for the JVA in organizational development, project management and business planning with RITI-Access Chief of Party, Brendan Gannon.
The JVA had been selected by the World Bank to help organize and lead e-government projects as part of a broader Bank infrastructure development program targeting the Jiu Valley. However, the JVA was in its organizational infancy and needed support in its establishment and foundation. Through this collaboration, Peace Corps and RITI-Access were able to build the organizational capacity of JVA, and help leverage the World Bank program for Romanian economic development.
Working with Peace Corps Volunteers
To date, several PCVs have, after receiving training from RITI-Access, assisted the RITI-Access project in training counterparts on professional project management techniques and are developing business and action plans for donor grant support. These volunteers also plan to serve as technical advisors to establish Contact Centers that are expected to foster the Romanian service economy and create jobs in economically depressed areas.
Six additional PCVs are scheduled to begin full time work with RITI-Access by the end of April. These PCVs will be assigned to pilot e-commerce and e-government projects. Each Volunteer will assume a direct role in project management and will furnish training and technical assistance to local partners.
Through Peace Corps Volunteers, RITI-Access is able to give more direct "on the ground" technical support to local partners for e-government and e-commerce activities. PCVs are also able to give feedback and analysis on the progress of these activities, to allow the project to respond to the ever changing environment in which these activities exist.
Collaboration to be Formalized
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Peace Corps and dot-ORG/AED to cover the work of these initial six PCVs. The MOU was signed on March 27th in the Peace Corps offices in Bucharest, Romania.
RITI-Access will continue to work closely with Peace Corps/Romania staff. This agreement formalizes a successful and evolving collaborative relationship.
Collaboration Supports Each Program
A global focus for Peace Corps is the use of Information Technology for community development. Peace Corps Volunteers all over the world are working to help communities take advantage of ICTs for economic and social development. PCVs often work with local organizations to provide basic training in computer use and Internet technology, supporting small and medium enterprise development and e-commerce.
The RITI-Access/Peace Corps collaboration also supports the Romanian objectives, as a core focus of the Peace Corps programs is small business and micro-enterprise development.
The RITI-Access program has four major objectives: