Many rural areas lack basic facilities, including communication, health, resource management, and power. These issues can be addressed using the new concept of the Millennium Villages developed by Dr. Joe Pelton with the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation (Clarke Foundation) in collaboration with Dr. Richard Freling of the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF). This idea provides an innovative way for remote villages to communicate with each other and with the outside world. Training is provided to villagers to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Tele-reach solutions. (Pelton, 2012)
The Millennium Village concept has been implemented in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka as a trial project, with current and future funding support being jointly sought through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and SELF. A combination multiple of ICT systems are necessary to provide an economically sustainable model to promote development in these remote areas. The following applications could result from these technologies:
- Emergency warning, storm and tsunami alerts, and recovery systems
- Tele-education for a range of academic levels
- Adult Tele-training
- Tele-health education in basics such as nutrition, maternity care, treatment for common ailments, and the importance of sanitation
- Job training for new competencies such as in Tele-services
- Micro-business development
- Weather forecasting
- Training in farming, forestry, crop rotation, terracing, fertilizer use, drip irrigation, and other areas of agriculture.
- Market development for local products via the Internet
- Use of remote sensing and space navigation systems
- Pollution monitoring and control*
- Village infrastructure and transportation planning (Pelton, 2012)*
The current concept involves two villages: one located on the coast and the other in a mountainous area. The Sri Lanka project can serve as a guide for accessing power needs, both solar and battery operated, in community areas for future Millennium Village concepts. The Millennium Village concept can be adopted within nations which are aiming to improve basic facilities and support economic progress.
A series of models and pathways to implementing Tele-reach solutions in the Global South are discussed in this paper. A national space policy is an essential step forward. Political will can either impede or enhance collaborative activities by providing internal guidance and external rhetoric on fostering international cooperation (Williamson, 2011). By collaborating and cooperating on Tele-reach, the Global South can benefit from existing programs and realize a nation’s developmental aspirations. In the Global South, proven space technology will enable rapid development. Nevertheless, increasing dependence on space-based services raises the issue of space as a finite and vulnerable resource, especially for basic communication services. The sustainability of the space environment is vital to the success of Tele-reach and other space based services. Issues of space sustainability that must be addressed include: space debris, space traffic management, monitoring of space weather and near-Earth objects, extending spacecraft operational life, and space situational awareness.