Mekong ICT Camp 2017: A Retrospective

Mekong ICT Camp 2017 had its exciting 5th run in the Kingdom’s Sokha Siem Reap Resort and Convention Centre from 4 to 8 September! Also known as The Seminar on the Capacity Development for Information and Communications Technology for Media and Non-governmental Organizations in the Mekong Sub-Region, this event was jointly organised by the Thai Fund Foundation in partnership with Open Development Cambodia, Emerald HUB, Social Innovation Institute and Foundation for Internet and Civic Culture (Thai Netizen Network).

This biennial sub-regional training workshop focused on 3 aspects; innovation, citizenship, and technology, during the week-long series of activities. Rooted in these aspects, the event provided a platform for stakeholders in the region to learn how to securely adapt different technologies to tackle social and environmental issues in their own community and beyond together. To promote self-sustainability, there was also a strong preference given to technologies that fall under the categories of open technology, open-license content and open standards too; whenever possible.

Being the first edition held outside of Thailand, this Mekong ICT Camp proved to be a step up from the previous series of editions; helping to further propel more opportunities for regional initiation, partnerships and collaborations.

This year, more than 300 applications were received as well; spanning from independent media sectors, community health practitioners, and civil society organizations in and outside the Mekong sub-region countries.

Ultimately, 76 participants from the Mekong sub-region and Bangladesh were selected to be part of the camp. Furthermore, 24 international facilitators from countries like Taiwan, USA, India, Germany, Australia, Cambodia,  Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, were also present to lend their expertise in various fields to the participants.

As for the programme itself, the content highlights have been linked to 3 main tracks that are the most relevant and current in field situation. Hence, the organizers have narrowed them down to ‘Innovative Practice’, ‘Civic Participation in Governance’ and ‘Technology Infrastructure’. Throughout the 5 days of workshop, participants kept in their track learning and on the last day of camp, they were required to come up with a presentation for an activity known as ‘Marketplace’.

During this time of learning, participants had the opportunity to gain knowledge of new available tools that can increase work productivity, increase and raise awareness to a larger audience and learn to fundraise through social media.

Besides learning invaluable information, the camp acted as a networking platform for the participants and experts involved. The knowledge, ideas and inspiration shared during the camp are usually implemented further for the existing or on-going projects in different Mekong Sub-regions or even internationally; allowing for cross country collaborations and expertise exchange on various ICT development and skill-sharing projects.

This year was also the first time the Seed Grant was launched during the camp. The Seed Grant is a small grant of USD3,000 offered to support pilot project prototypes on social innovation for development related to these topics such as government transparency, environmental and climate change, resilience and smart city, community wifi, internet security and privacy, online training or any technology project made to support social development.

Mekong ICT Camp Seed Grant awarded the 5 best prototypes for each countries in the region; which includes Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. 23 projects were submitted before and between the camp and these were the top 5 best projects prototypes that have been selected by the camp’s judges:

  1. CAM Lost and Found, Cambodia
  2. Interactive Online Learning, Laos
  3. Global Citizenship Education – Hybrid Online Training, Myanmar
  4. Mekong Nature Camp, Thailand
  5. Float In Flood, Vietnam

All in all, the unique experiences and knowledge gained from the Mekong ICT Camps definitely made the well-known innovation camp a success once again and we at Geeks in Cambodia want to congratulate them for another successful run!

For now, the Thai Fund Foundation promises to continue working on this ICT capacity building program for the Mekong sub-region’s non-governmental organizations (NGO). They also hope that the knowledge and skills participants have acquired will be utilised well to help various NGOs and citizen media, so as to greatly benefit the people in this sub-region. For more information and to see exciting photos from the Mekong ICT Camp 2017, visit their website here or visit their Facebook Page here.