They told her that a deadly virus “such as whooping cough” was sweeping the country and even struck the nearby city of Macau. But she was skeptical because she was too close to home. “I don’t know if this is true,” said Montel, 38, who is part of the largest indigenous group in the country, YW.
When the Colombian government issued a nationwide ban in late April, she and her husband were advised to stay home with their three children, keep them apart, wash their hands and wear masks to avoid the virus, which killed more than 365,000 people worldwide.
But for Montiel, the order to stay home is his own death sentence.
Before closing, Angela sometimes charged the SIM for WhatsApp, but she has not been able to recharge since closing. With no internet connection, there is no “remote” method. Angela ties traditional Wayuu mochila bags but she cannot sell them on the street under current restrictions.
Currently, her family lives from emergency cash payments from the Mercy Corps NGO. It is impossible for her children to continue their education from home without access to school materials online. For updates, they wait for phone calls from friends or family, who may bring the news. Otherwise, they are in the dark.
“Given that we don’t have a TV, internet, or anything, we don’t know whether it’s still going or going on, so obviously we can’t get out or move,” said Montel. “We are in despair.”
Governments around the world have committed to providing universal access by 2020, but the digital divide is still deep and widening inequalities as well.
People in poor areas, such as women, the elderly, and those who live in remote or rural areas, are less likely to contact. In many cases, communication can be weak – the closing of offices, schools, or public places, such as libraries and cafes, has cut off access for many.
“Covid-19 has shown that there is such a big divide, and it is indeed a shock to some governments. When they asked their employees to go home from work … not many of them could.”
Sarpong hopes the crisis will break long-standing barriers to accessing the Internet – from a lack of political will to regulatory hurdles and affordability of data – to connect more of the world.
“Governments need to look at access to the Internet, not as a luxury, but to see it as an enabler that can transform their economies … I think it’s an invitation to wake up to them,” Sarpong said.
A gender digital divide
Digital technologies have revolutionized life as we know it. But not everyone benefits equally, and many of them lag behind due to lack of infrastructure, literacy and training.
In India, the aggressive approach to digitization has transferred most of the government benefits over the Internet – from rations to pensions. Even before the epidemic occurred, the country’s poorest people were dependent on digital technology, even though half of the population was offline.
The epidemic has magnified the irony of this situation.
Lal Bai, a 65-year-old widow living in a remote village in Rajasthan, could not travel five miles to the nearest town to withdraw government funds, and had no way to access government funds online, so she soon found without leaving any food in Home.
Dazed, Pai ended up on the doorstep of Umbati Berjapati, who runs a digital service store in her village. “She was the only one who would help me.”
“Only because of the internet can I see what is happening and tell others that they should wash their hands regularly with soap, use antiseptic and wear masks,” said Berjapati, 27. Help any of these people [if I had not learned how to use the internet]. I couldn’t even help myself. “
Osama Munzer, a social entrepreneur and founder of the German Defense Foundation, says their work in training women like Bergabati has shown how important it is to provide digital infrastructure to the last mile – especially during a disaster.
“Communication and access to the Internet must be part of basic human rights. It must be taken into account, at the time of the epidemic and disasters, just as they provide access to food or water, there must be a way to provide access to data,” Munther said.
A problem for rich countries, too
According to Pew Research, more than four out of every 10 low-income households in America do not have access to broadband services and in the UK, 1.9 million households do not have access to the Internet, while tens of millions of other families rely on on-the-go payment services To connect to the Internet.
“For many people, digital exclusion is just an extension of the social exclusion they face, and poverty is definitely part of that.”
“I wasn’t adjusting at all. I was very lonely and depressed when the shutdown first started, but since I had the tablet … when I feel lonely, I can talk to my grandchildren or my daughter.” They have continuously contacted them, because they are always online. “
On May 1, Addison turned 60. She celebrated with her grandchildren in a video chat on the new iPad – the same iPad she is now using to check out its benefits portal. She recently subscribed to a dating site as well. She said, “I feel like a teenager.”
But while governments try to offer digital services to those in need, the question remains: Who gets a device and who doesn’t?
“This device is not only about immediate support during Covid, but it is about opening the portal for parents and families for aspirations and opportunities,” Sheikh said. There are currently 1,500 others on the waiting list.
“The biggest challenge is, who do I choose?”
Swati Gupta and Jack Guy of CNN contributed to this report.