We think of community networks as communication strategies mediated by technology, through which communities, by addressing their own needs for communication and access to information, weave their paths towards autonomy and self-determination. The diversity of organization forms, objectives, and technologies used, among other factors, make it impossible to concretely define these communication experiences; rather, they are an accumulation of experiences that take very different paths and adopt different strategies depending on the community in which they are developed.
In recent years, these types of initiatives have increased steadily in different places, largely as a way of addressing sustainability through localized, context-specific solutions that respond to the lifestyles and needs of the communities in which they are developed.
One fundamental element of community networks is capacity building, which allows community members, and also key actors who support them in their work, to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for the creation, operation, and sustainability of these networks. All of these efforts have given rise to an endless number of strategies and training programs that have resulted in both the creation of and the need for educational and training materials.
This repository emerges as a collective initiative to share, organize and disseminate these materials in a simple and accessible way.
This space is nurtured collectively!
The management and curation of the resources is carried out by a committee composed by different organizations, including the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Rhizomatica, and the organizations behind the Techio Comunitario training programme and the National Schools of Community Networks.
We invite you to send us your proposals for additions to the repository.
This repository is part of the Local Networks (LocNet) initiative, a collective effort led by APC and Rhizomatica in partnership with people and organisations in the global South. LocNet aims to directly support community networks and to contribute to an enabling ecosystem for their emergence and growth. Community networks cultivate bottom-up, sustainable approaches to communication technology and meaningful connectivity that strengthen autonomy and self-determination.
To achieve its goals, LocNet adopts diverse strategies related to peer learning and institutional strengthening, training and mentorship, policy and advocacy, technology innovation and sustainability, and gender and women’s participation. The repository is one of the activities that form part of the training and mentorship work carried out through the initiative. The goal of this work is to accompany and support organizations who want to develop and/or strengthen training processes for the installation, management, operation, and maintenance of community networks.
This repository will also support the same work of the National Schools of Community Networks happening in Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa between 2021 and 2023. The methodology used for the National Schools is based on the stages of Participatory Action Research (PAR): scenario building, seeing, thinking, acting and evaluating. By using these stages in the design and implementation of training programmes such as the National Schools, it is possible to respond in a more relevant way to the contexts, needs, and dreams of the communities in which these projects are carried out. These methodological principles are based on the experience of Techio Comunitario, a training program for technical promoters in telecommunications and broadcasting in indigenous communities in Latin America, developed by organizations that work on community and Indigenous communication issues in Mexico and other countries.
More details on this methodology and related training experiences can be found in: Technological autonomy as a constellation of experiences: A guide to collective creation and development of training programmes for technical community promoters (2021).
The repository is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in the scope of the project “Connecting the Unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives”. Also by the UK Government’s Digital Access Programme under the “Supporting Community-led Approaches to Addressing the Digital Divide”project.