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Seeking for TeleCentres locations - 11-13 June 2003

Between 11-13 June 2003 we visited 8 localities in order to choose the villages selected for the Telecentre pilot project initiated by RITI dot-Gov

Frecăţei, situated in Braila County, is one of the 2 communes which are part of the Braila Big Island. The commune Frecatei administrates for all the eastern part of the Island from North to South – in total 37 000 hectares. The commune includes 5 villages. The villages are spread on a large territory and the distance between the centre of the commune and the remote villages is 15 km. The main village – Frecatei – has 120 households and 250 inhabitants. The whole commune has 557 households and 1470 inhabitants. To this number we should add another 1000 seasonal workers who come in that area during the Summer to work in the farms of the eastern part of the island. 

Getting indications regarding the road to Frecatei

Getting indications regarding the road to Frecatei

There is one physician in the whole commune and an ambulance that is owned by the Mayor’s office. There are schools in almost all villages with 170 pupils. 
The main occupation of the inhabitants is agriculture. Every family has around 5 hectares and some animals, but usually they don’t produce more than they need for their own living. The land is split into small sections and there are no irrigation facilities available, so if it doesn’t rain enough – like this year - the harvest is very limited. Some inhabitants also work as seasonal workers, electricians, mechanics, tractor drivers on big company owned farms on the Island .
There are 2 areas for recreation available, one in the North – Blaşova Lake which has some lodging facilities and a restaurant. Another area for recreation is the Zătan Lake in the South, where there are no facilities yet, but several interests from investors have been expressed. 
The communication with the commune is very difficult. The road from Braila to Frecatei crossing the Island is very bad and you easily get lost if you don’t know the exact way. There is a very small ferryboat (only for 1 car) to cross the Danube directly to the commune, but just a few people know it and there is no strict schedule. In the Winter some villages may be unreachable. 

The only telephone in Commune Frecatei

The only telephone in Commune Frecatei

There is only one very old phone, connected to a manual switch, at the Mayor’s office. Some people in the village have mobile phones, but coverage can be found only up on the dike nearby. These mobile phones are frequently used also by other members of the community. 

Balaşeşti is a commune in the North of Galati County. It is composed of 4 villages with 2565 inhabitants. The villages are not very remote. The commune was one of the last 5 communes of Galati where a digital switch was installed. That happened in the end of 2002. However, the switch has very limited capacity. Today there are 240 subscribers, but there are more then 80 requests still pending. The subscribers usually live in the centre of the commune or along the road that passes through. There are in total 8 public pay phones in the commune and prepaid cards can be bought at the Post Office. 
There are two physicians (a family) in the commune. The doctor is very interest in computers and Internet. He even has one in his home with connection to Internet. There are 4 schools (2 of them with first 10 forms) with 245 pupils. The mayor office has a telephone, fax and computer. The connection to Internet for the mayor’s computer was finalized one month ago. 

Presenting the Telecentre project to the Mayor and Phisycian in Balasesti

Presenting the Telecentre project to the Mayor and Physician in Balasesti

The major part of the population is poor and works in agriculture, but they do not produce more than they need. The terrain was irrigated some years ago from an artificial lake near-by, but a high flood destroyed the lake and it couldn’t be repaired. 

We visited 6 different locations in Vaslui County. The first 3 are located in the southern part of the county and the other 3 are located in the northern part. The selection of the 6 locations was made upon the number of subscribers to Romtelecom and the number of requests for new subscriptions. 

1. Blegeşti is a locality situated in Southeast part of the county just next to the border with the Republic of Moldavia. It is a small commune with 3 villages and less than 1500 inhabitants. There are only 4 phones available in the commune and only in the public institutions. There is one physician and 2 nurses in the commune, but they don’t have any phone available. 2 public pay phones are installed, one of them just in front of the commune hall. Over 300 persons submitted requests for a telephone connection. In the commune there are 2 schools with 120 pupils and 7 teachers. The school has one computer.

2. Coroieşti is a locality situated in the western part of Vaslui County, 25 kilometres from Birlad. The commune is formed by 7 small villages that have 3-400 inhabitants each. The total population of the commune is 2 870 inhabitants. The villages are scattered over big distances from the centre of the commune, up to 12 or 15 km north or south. The road that connects them is very bad and frequently not usable in the Winter. There are only 2 unqualified nurses that provide medical care for the whole commune. The 6 schools of the commune have 568 children enrolled. The population is almost entirely occupied with agriculture, but at a limited level and they produce only what they need. 
There are only telephone lines to the public institutions. 3 public pay phones are also available. There isn’t any coverage by Connex or Orange. They have a major problem in communicating between the centre of the commune and the villages. 

Discussions on Telecentres with the Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Coroiesti

Discussions on Telecentres with the Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Coroiesti

3. Iana is a commune situated in the western part of the Vaslui County, at around 30 kilometres from Birlad city. The commune has 5 villages with 3950 inhabitants and 1391 households. There is no physician that may ensure the medical care of the inhabitants, so they need to appeal to a neighbouring village physician if a medical problem occurs. There are 5 schools with 780 scholars, but the number will increase significantly up to 900 in the next years. The population is very poor and is occupied mainly just with agriculture. This year there have been almost 500 requests for social help from the government from the inhabitants of the commune. 
There are just 4 telephones installed in the commune to the public institutions and 2 public pay phones. There are no efficient links between the central village and the ones located further. The public pay phones are very popular among the population who use them a lot. The mayor office has a telephone/fax machine. 

is a locality situated in the northwestern part of the Vaslui County. The commune comprises 6 villages with 2 537 inhabitants and 1175 households. The villages are scattered on a large area, with the remotest one at 12 km from the centre of the commune. There are 5 new schools, renovated with World Bank money, with 300 pupils. 27 teachers are working in the commune. The schools are equipped with 2 computers. The population is rather poor working in agriculture or breeding animals, but they don’t produce more than they consume. The products from animals cannot be traded, since there is no collection system in place. Part of the land (800 hectares) is rented to Comcereal and there are people also working for them. They have only 1 physician, which provides medical care to 2 communes. The roads are very bad and in winter they have often problems to get through.

RITI dot-Gov Project Director and the Mayor of Girceni

RITI dot-Gov Project Director and the Mayor of Girceni

There are 40 subscribers to fixed telephony services (5 institutions and 35 private persons) – all from the major village, but there are still over 100 requests for connecting to the network. There is no mobile coverage in the area. Also the other 5 villages have no communication facilities. Two public pay phones were installed in 2001 in the commune. 

5. Dumesti is a commune on the northern part of Vaslui county which spreads along the main road on 7.5 km and which has other 3 villages quite close (around 1.5 km distance from the main commune). The commune has 3 744 inhabitants which are primarily farmers. The commune has 5 schools that have 4 computers. The mayor office has a telephone/fax machine.
The national road is passing through the commune. A digital switch was installed last year with 130 subscribers (6 public institutions). There are also 3 public pay phones. However the other 3 villages have no telephones installed. 

6.Rebricea is a commune situated in the northern part of Vaslui County that comprises 9 villages, the most remote being at 7 kilometres from the main commune. The commune has 4150 inhabitants and 1400 households. The commune has one doctor and 3 nurses who provide medical care for the inhabitants. There are 8 schools in the village with 360 pupils and 34 teachers. The school in Dracsen, a village part of the commune situated at 7 km, was equipped with a laboratory with 20 computers through a project founded by the World Bank and the Romanian Government. Also the school will be renovated starting in the autumn of this year. The roads to the other villages in the commune are bad and are frequently closed during the winter. A part of the land in the commune is rented to Comcereal Company. The commune is having close partnership with a French commune called Forbach. They have formed together an NGO called Friendship that supported different projects to help the local community. 
The communication is very poor in the village. Four fixed phones are available and only in the public institutions – Mayor, Police station, Human and Veterinary Health centre. There are 4 public pay phones available in the commune, but only in 2 villages. There is no coverage from the mobile operators. Various attempts have been supported by the local community to provide telephone services. Last year they raised 453 requests from the population to install fixed phones that were presented to Romtelecom, but the need for communications services is higher than that. There are children of the people that still live in the villages who are abroad or in other parts of Romania and they would wish very much to get in contact with their relatives in the village. Fax services could be used also by the public institutions. 

Some general remarks regarding the setting up the Telecenters that came during the visits: 
- A lot of young people that have relatives in the poor villages are working abroad or in other parts of the country. With only public payphones in the villages it is not possible for these persons to call their relatives. The TeleCentre will however make this possible through the messaging service. Their calls to the rural areas could also be an important source of incoming traffic for the Telecenter.
- A special solution must be found to insure the privacy of calls made in the Telecenter 
- The messaging service should work even in the periods where the Telecentre is not manned. A simple answering machine could be one solution 
- A telephone must be available 24h/day for making calls. A possible answer could be a public pay phone outside the Telecentre. 
- One of the problems of all communes is the communication between the centre of the commune and the remote villages. Also in most of the cases the villages do not have any kind of communication facilities, including public pay phones. A basic communication facility between all villages within one community must be established.
- Distant healthcare could be improved by using communications means. 
- The mayors do not have close relationships with other mayors or local councils to discuss the general problems of the region. The Telecenters network could be a catalyser for sharing more information relevant for the communities in the same region
- A fax machine could be useful especially for the public institutions that do not have today the possibility to send data. 

RITI dot-Gov is part of the dot-Com alliance financed by USAID 

Dot-Com Alliance


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