Information and news about mobile technology

10 Apps that Fight Poverty
With technology always growing and changing it is now easier than ever to fight poverty and support different organizations in fun and unique ways. There is no better way to fight poverty than with something most everyone has — a phone. Adults in the United States spent an average of three hours and 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018. There are apps that are designed to help fight poverty or support local and overseas charities all with a few taps on the screen. With the abundance of these apps available, it was very easy to find 10 apps that fight poverty. Many of these apps even include a fun twist that gets people motivated to donate. All 10 apps listed below are available to download as of February 2019.

  1. Compassion is an app that allows the phone holder to sponsor a child in need of aid in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. If the phone holder is already a sponsor within an organization, they can also sign up with their sponsor number to gain access to more information about the child they are sponsoring.
  2. One Today allows phone holders to donate funds to various causes and organizations and is pretty straight forward about it. When the phone holder looks at a specific organization or cause, they are about to quickly learn about the issue and how the organization is actively fighting it. This app explains how much of the funds given to one organization will help that specific organization achieve its goals. The price may vary. Today gives the phone holder a chance to give $1, to match the profile’s request, match a friends donation, or give more than the suggested amount. Phone holders don’t have to worry about where their money is going because 100 percent of the money that is donated is given directly to the organization.
  3. ShareTheMeal is the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) app that allows users to feed a hungry child. It is easy to navigate and has plenty of feeding plans to choose from, with the most basic involving donation 50 cents to give a child one meal and the most complex being over a $1,000 to feed a child for a year. The app also gives the option to add a custom amount. It is easy to quickly see where the funds are going and how they are helping children from around the world grow and survive.
  4. Connect & Care is another app that lets users find real charities around the world and set up regular donations to them right from their phone. The app allows the phone holder to learn more about the causes they are supporting and see how the charity is making an impact on the donations given.
  5. Donate a Photo is a unique and simple app that utilizes something everyone does with their phones, which is taking pictures. For every photo sent to Johnson & Johnson’s website with this app, the company donates $1 to a good cause that the phone holder chooses.
  6. Campaigns made on Spotfund can be local or overseas but all are verified and easy to give to. It is a quick, easy and safe way for phone holders to donate to good causes and to even start a story of their own. Spotfund’s minimum donation size is 1$, so everyone can participate and all donations are anonymous.
  7. Maximuslife is an app that encourages the user to give by getting active. Run, walk, bike, skate, climb and more and each step that is taken benefits the cause of the users choosing. Phone holders are able to do these activities on their own or join a challenge group to participate with.
  8. GoodBooky is a fun way to get friends involved in the giving. With this fun app, you can make a friendly wager on major sporting events, TV show finales or random customized bets with friends. The loser donates to the winner’s selected charity. All the user has to do is make a bet, choose a friend and charity, and settle an amount. After the other player accepts the bet, the game begins on who will win for their charity.
  9. Flourish is a useful app for everyday spending. By using a rounding up system, the app can take the $3.50 a user spent on coffee and add 50 cents to give to a charity of the users choice. By rounding up cents the app gives phone holders the chance to donate without taking to much funding. The app also allows for recurring one time donations, and what is called “double tip rules.” A double tip is when the rounding up system is doubled for items set by the user. For example, if the user were to set a double tip rule to apply to every time they bought ice cream, then the app would recognize the purchases and give double to the charities.
  10. Сharidy is a great way to keep track of all donations and organizations, store receipt and set up recurring giving to favorite causes. It is great for users who enjoy donating and keeping records of how they have helped certain organizations before.

These 10 apps that fight poverty are just a few of many that aim to make the world a better place. They make it easy to donate and get involved with great causes that are in your backyard or halfway across the world. Since they are so simple to use, people do not have any excuses not to help the poor.

– Madeline Oden

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country ripe with investment opportunities mainly due to its abundant natural resources, population size and predominantly open trading system. At the same time, it is also a challenging country for business because of its weak financial system, widespread corruption and bribery.

Overall, credit access in the Democratic Republic of Congo is limited, therefore the country has a scarce and short-term credit volume history.

Financial System in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Congolese financial system has less than 10 licensed banks, one single development bank, 120 microfinance institutions and has no equity or debt markets. The lack of a substantial financial sector prevents the Congolese from participating in the global market. The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (GDRC) is working to improve and enhance regulatory measures over its economic environment.

The GDRC’s National Agency for Investment Promotion (ANAPI) is responsible for monitoring initial investments that have a value larger than $200,000. ANAPI is required to make the investment process streamlined and transparent for new foreign investors with the goal of improving the country’s image as an investment destination. The GDRC has enacted investment regulations to prohibit foreign investors from conducting business in small retail commerce. These regulations also prohibit a foreign investor from becoming a majority shareholder in the agricultural sector.

Partnership for Financial Inclusion

The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo contains laws meant to combat internal corruption, bribery and the illegal activities of all Congolese citizens. Unfortunately, these laws are rarely enforced, and when they are observed, the application is politically motivated. The corruption negatively impacts the country’s exports and the economy as it discourages foreign investors. In 2013, the IMF withdrew a $532 million loan because the GDRC refused to disclose details surrounding the sale of 25 percent of a state-owned copper project. Without foreign direct investment (FDI), job growth remains stagnant and low wages remain, resulting in the inability to get credit. All of the issues contributing to the fragile state of credit access in the Democratic Republic of Congo can be rectified with innovation and reformation.

The GDRC’s push for advancement is not lost on some U.S. investors, evidenced by the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, a $37.4 million joint venture between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Mastercard Foundation that focuses its interests on financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative aims to expand microcredit and develop digital financial services that are present now in the DRC, as many of the country’s banks are using mobile services.

Credit Access in the Democratic Republic of Congo

According to the World Bank, current statistics show the strength of legal rights index for the DRC to be six on a scale from zero to 12. This score indicates how the GDRC’s collateral and bankruptcy laws protect borrowers and lenders. The country has no electronic infrastructure listing debtors’ names and wages and lacks any unified registry. In DRC, there are no established rules that work on behalf of its citizens to make it easy to establish credit access. The depth of credit information index shows the DRC ranks zero on a scale of zero to eight. This index measures rules that affect the quality of available credit information and its accessibility to credit bureaus.

The World Bank’s statistics show that within the DRC’s economy, an integrated legal framework for secured transactions exists. However, this framework is a one-stop shop where interagency communication and transactions occur in non-digital systems. This framework is comprised of governmental agencies that expedite registration of DRC companies. A digital infrastructure could allow for a much more fluid and rapid increase in the establishment of digital financial services.

Digital financial services include cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual money that use encryption to safeguard, regulate and verify the currency and transfer of funds. Cryptocurrencies are not subject to commercial or governmental control and remove corruption from the equation by preventing illegal facilitation payments. Virtual currencies are the foundation for digital economies and financial inclusion. They can reform the Congolese banking system and fund areas such as health care and education.

A digital economy can pave the way for improved personal savings and increased credit access in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to a study about the impact of digital financial inclusion on inclusive economic growth and development, individuals in rural areas who regularly save their money have more of an ability to feed their families. Results also show they feel socially included with the use of digital services or agent banking, which is not the case with traditional banks.

A nominal percentage of the DRC population has accounts with traditional banks, but thanks to the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, that reality is changing. The country’s goal of expanding microfinance and developing digital services throughout the DRC is slowly actualizing, as is evident by the GDRC’s economic governance of its business climate. It also is evident by their scores for the strength of legal rights index and depth of credit information index.

Because of these scores, the range of credit access in the Democratic Republic of Congo widens, but the country’s laws and corruption still are hurdles that must be overcome in order for the credit access and credit volume to reach ideal numbers.

– Julianne Russo
Photo: Pixabay

Mobile Banking in ThailandAs internet access becomes more relevant, new markets and business sectors such as information technology, finance, banking, and telecommunications are developing. This can expand opportunities for rural areas that were once outside the scope of urban centers to take advantage of mobile banking and empower formerly marginalized communities. With the help of the internet, everyone can join the development world with minimum requirements. For this reason, mobile banking in Thailand is currently more prevalent than ever.

Often in developing countries, banks and telecommunication infrastructure are scarce, while mobile phones are found in spades. This interesting dichotomy has led to the proliferation of mobile money and banking, which allows money to be transferred, deposited, and converted back into cash using only a mobile phone to do it.

Mobile Banking in Thailand on the Rise

According to the World Bank, as of 2016, Thailand’s rural population was 48.46%. With recent developments in mobile banking in Thailand, roughly 50% of the population will have increased opportunities to pay bills, conduct money transfers, and make everyday purchases electronically.

The role credits and loans have in the growth of developing countries’ economies cannot be overstated. Increased loan access is essential for allowing farmers, businesses, and consumers as well to utilize investment capital and help expand economic activity. As mobile banking in Thailand proliferates throughout the financial sector, it offers increased access to loans.

This past year (2017), Thailand has seen incredible growth in the mobile banking sector. The Bank of Thailand recently published data that illustrates a surge in the use of mobile internet banking in Thailand. Consumers’ increasing preference for digital transactions highlights the success of banks’ pivot toward more digital strategies.

The Benefits of Mobile Banking in Thailand

As Thailand continues to cement the transition to mobile banking, rises in employment, wages, GDP and productivity are expected. Consumers can expect to receive THB 3.3 billion in annual benefits, while businesses will see up to THB 72.9 in annual net benefits. Employment will rise by 1.6% and wages by 0.2%. THB is an abbreviation for Thailand Baht. In comparison, 1 USD equals 32.82 THB.

As the government and private sector continue to facilitate the growth of mobile banking in Thailand, electronic payments between consumers and merchants will become increasingly prevalent. The transition towards a cashless society and the advantages that come with it are many, one of them being the cost of transactions.

A study conducted by VISA predicts that the total benefits of Bangkok shifting to a cashless society will be approximately THBg 125 billion per year.

An Upward Trajectory

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Framework 2020 involves several strategies and goals that include universal broadband and a competitive ICT industry. With regard to the national broadband policy, the ICT Framework hopes to have 90% of the population connected by 2020.

Hopefully, as Thailand completes the transition to a more connected society, other southeast Asian countries will take notice and invest in better technological and banking infrastructure. In turn, these subsequent developments could make the region a burgeoning financial hub.

Since mobile banking is dependent on a strong broadband network, the future of mobile banking in Thailand looks bright, as the government prioritizes increased broadband coverage across the country.

– McAfee Michael Sheehan
Photo: Google

mobile apps in developing countriesIn the last 10 years alone, the number of mobile phone users has grown to four billion, with 37 percent of that growth occurring in developing economies. With internet availability expected to reach even the least developed nations in the next couple of years, a rapidly growing market for mobile apps in developing countries will likely expand even more.

Why is This the Trend?

In areas of Asia and Africa, one can buy a smartphone for the equivalent of $30. Simply put, mobile technology is the most convenient and cheapest technology option available for developing countries.

This convenience is one reason why the biggest market growth is seen in three main regions:

  1. Latin America, where smartphone adoption has seen double-digit growth and mobile banking gives financial access to those who might not ordinarily have it.
  2. South Asia, where in places like Vietnam, the number of Internet users has grown from four million to 45 million in just the last 10 years.
  3. The Middle East and North Africa, where, in Egypt alone, downloads of tool and messaging apps rose 60 percent in a year.

What Are the Uses for Mobile Apps in Developing Countries?

Whether it is to increase food production, access health information, launch a startup or improve education, a new reliance on mobile apps in developing countries transforms the way nations grow. While access to education is not a given in developing countries, the concept and means of education are shifting.

Four of the five top countries for educational app downloads are India, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. A large reason for this is that 50 percent of South Asians and 33 percent of Africans who finish school still cannot read, and 60 percent of six- to 14-year-olds in India cannot read at a second-grade level.

Mobile Apps are Facilitating Needed Change

For farmers who seek to increase food production, change is especially welcome. For practical purposes, apps like iCow allow livestock farmers in Kenya to track gestational periods for their animals, find veterinarians and monitor best practices. An app called Esoko disseminates information to farmers about market prices, weather forecasts and advisory services. Yet another popular app, WeFarm, offers a peer-to-peer platform for farmers to share information among themselves, with or without Internet access.

Beyond the fields and the classroom, popular mobile apps in developing countries range from banking apps like M-PESA, which allows for the transfer of funds over text message, to Voto Mobile, voice-based services in local languages. These programs have been rolled out in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and India.

In India, as with much of the developing world, access to good healthcare is also a concern. With over 60 million people in the country with type two diabetes and 36 million living with Hepatitis B, its people look to take advantage of the over 100,000 healthcare apps that already exist.

Never has technology been so accessible, yet never has the need for technology been so dire. With the myriad issues that arise because of extreme poverty, mobile technology gives rise to a new hope for developing nations.

– Daniel Staesser

Photo: Flickr

hiv-focused telehealthSome of the largest barriers to HIV treatment and prevention in rural areas are access to care and affordability. Luckily, telehealth technology can help provide people in more isolated areas with access to information about HIV prevention and treatment. For individuals without a car whose nearest health center is 15 or more miles away, HIV-focused telehealth or telemedicine is a potential solution.

Through telehealth, individuals can hold appointments with health practitioners over the phone, through messaging services or via video chat. Telehealth is one of the more accessible technological services, as expensive devices like smartphones and personal laptops are not necessarily required. Additionally, the appointments themselves reduce in cost, as they are cheaper than in-person appointments and do not require any travel on the part of the patient or health practitioner.

Here are a few ways that HIV-focused telehealth programs can assist people with HIV, from diagnosis to treatment.

Testing

Telehealth can encourage HIV self-testing in remote, resource-limited areas. With the establishment of many HIV self-testing initiatives in countries like Zambia and South Africa, telehealth coupled with home-testing kits allow individuals to have the guidance of a health professional in the privacy of their homes. With an at-home HIV test, the patient can take the test at their convenience while talking, video chatting or texting with a health practitioner. This way, the patient would not have to rely on inaccessible health clinics to get tested, and would have the guidance of a professional assisting them with administering the test themselves.

At-home testing with telehealth also ensures that the health practitioner can link the patient to a confirmatory test and other resources following the test results. If a person is alone after taking a self-test, it is possible that they will not follow up with the necessary appointments. 

Diagnosis

In most countries, HIV is highly stigmatized and many people face discrimination, isolation and a sense of hopelessness following a diagnosis. People who experience depression after finding out their status are less likely to adhere to medication or care about their overall physical health.

In resource-constrained areas, many of which struggle with high instances of HIV, telepsychiatry may be the only option for therapy. Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that low-income countries have a median of 0.05 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people, versus high-income countries with 10.50 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people.

With telepsychiatry, people in remote areas can receive low-cost therapy at home from a therapist that is located anywhere in the world. While studies have shown telepsychiatry to be effective and affordable in resource-constrained areas, it is the least widely implemented telehealth practice, with most countries prioritizing teleradiology and telepathology.

Treatment

When people with HIV do not have the means to travel to a health center for treatment and proper check-ups, telehealth technology combined with traveling medical services can ensure better medication adherence and better outcomes for people living with HIV. Telehealth can assist HIV positive people by scheduling check-ins and antiretroviral medication deliveries over the phone.

However, some organizations are developing new ways to assist patients through mobile phone apps. The Vodafone Foundation recently introduced a mobile telephone app designed to assist people with HIV that live in resource-constrained areas. The HIV-focused telehealth app was first launched in Lesotho, Africa, and it allows health practitioners to track their patient’s treatment, health information and payment methods. The app also connects patients with funding to pay for appointments and transportation to the closest health center.

While technology has given the global fight against HIV/AIDS a much-needed upgrade, lack of funding, infrastructure and legislation were still named as the top three barriers to implementing national telehealth programs for WHO member states. Regardless, more than 57 percent of WHO member states acknowledge telehealth in national policy and many are looking to implement new telehealth programs through legislation in the future. If the legislation leads to the initiation of more HIV-focused telehealth programs, people with HIV in remote areas will have a better chance at leading healthy lives.

– Danielle Poindexter

Photo: Flickr

Tech Solutions That Improve Humanitarian Service DeliveryWith natural disasters like the recent earthquakes in Mexico and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria wreaking untold havoc, the question of how to improve humanitarian service delivery is all the more pertinent. Technology is quickly changing the way we respond to crises and will continue to transform our responses in the future.

According to the GSM Association, increased mobile connectivity is a lifeline that has made service delivery more efficient. Network operators can get in touch with anyone connected to a mobile device to warn them of incoming disasters and provide them with strategies to prepare for the worst. The rise of social media has given political leaders and news organizations similar powers to connect with their citizens and audiences.

In addition, mobile devices make humanitarian cash transfers easier—it is far more convenient and quicker to send digital money than cash—and improve access to energy. Especially in the developing world, many people live off the traditional “grid” but are covered by pay-as-you-go energy providers, who partner with mobile services, to ensure easy and orderly digital payments.

According to the World Economic Forum, robots are making a difference in how humanitarian aid is deployed, and they will likely do so to an even greater extent in the future. Certain areas become too dangerous during disasters for human responders to be able to assess needs or deliver aid, and robots (including drones) have the potential to mitigate that. Indeed, drones are currently being used, albeit in a limited manner.

With the number of people affected by humanitarian crises nearly doubling over the course of the past decade, technological solutions like these will be vital to minimizing the effects of the growing displacement crisis and the security risks and poverty it causes.

Gisli Rafn Olafsson believes one of the most important effects of technology on humanitarian service delivery is its potential to encourage a “bottom-up” approach that will soon replace the current, unwieldy “top-down” paradigm. With technology, the beneficiaries of humanitarian response can organize their own responses to wars and natural disasters rather than wait for help to arrive. A grassroots network is invariably the strongest tool and the best solution to improve humanitarian service delivery.

Chuck Hasenauer
Photo: Flickr

Mobile Market Technology Empowers Farmers in Sub-Saharan AfricaAlthough Africa as a continent possesses 54 diverse and independent nations, those nations located below the Sahara Desert are often grouped into one region. Though it is helpful to use this regional grouping in some instances of data gathering and processing, it is also important to ensure when doing so that the individuality of the nations is not lost and is, instead, carefully noted, as such individuality creates significant statistical differences. For example, although it can be easily asserted that 54 percent of the total African work force is found in the agricultural sector, such a statistic is entirely off-base when considering the case of nations such as South Africa, Angola and Mauritius, where less than 20 percent of all employment is found in agriculture, or nations like Burundi and Madagascar, where over 80 percent of employment is in the agricultural sector.

That being said, the impact of a nation’s agricultural systems is still so significant that a one percent increase in agricultural per capita GDP would actually cause a decrease in the poverty gap five times larger than a one percent increase in per capita GDP of any other area. Further, it is a widely shared belief amongst development economists that the area most impacted by agricultural growth is in non-farm income and employment. In other words, no matter how large or small a nation’s agricultural sector is, it has an immense impact on the nation overall. As a result, it is no wonder that addressing the agricultural sector is inherently necessary in the effort to address the 40 percent of the world’s poor that live in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

Such is exactly why the work of Esoko Networks Limited is so important. As a technology platform that works to bridge the information gap for farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, Esoko strives to improve the production yield and make farmers more market savvy through multiple facets – and all through the personal ease of the ever-ubiquitous mobile phone. Esoko provides up-to-date market information such as current prices and also includes weather alerts – the latter being an increasingly serious matter, as fluctuating environmental conditions due to climate change has forced changes in agricultural practices in many areas. Additionally, Esoko allows individuals to share information regarding agricultural practices and technologies, old and new, effectively creating a farmer-specific library of information from which to learn and improve one’s production.

Perhaps most exciting, this technology also has a feature which allows buyers and sellers to identify and connect with each other – creating a mini-market that can focus specifically on interactions between smallholder farmers while also providing access to larger markets. As a final measure, Esoko has included a system to survey the individuals who use their technology. This system has been so effective that it has brought down UNICEF’s profiling error rate to an astonishing zero percent – it was previously at 55 percent.

Overall, Esoko has been found to increase income for those farmers who use it by about 10 percent- and all by simply creating a network for farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to communicate, connect and learn.

Kailee Nardi
Photo: Flickr

WeFarmThere are over 500 million smallholder farms in the world. Most of these farmers live on less than $1 a day and are highly vulnerable to severe climate change and other factors that can hurt their farms. On top of that, many of these farmers do not have access to the Internet to learn about ways to help their farms or even to help other farmers.

One company, WeFarm, has developed a way to connect farmers without having to have an Internet connection. WeFarm has implemented a free, peer-to-peer service for farmers to share information via SMS, rather than through the Internet.

WeFarm explains how this works with a simple example: “Rose’s crops are suffering from a disease, so she sends a simple, free text to the local WeFarm number.” Rose’s question would then be posted online and sent to certain WeFarm members via SMS. From there, Rose would receive answers within minutes, according to WeFarm, without having to leave her farm or needing an Internet connection.

Because of the use of SMS, these farmers can use simple mobile phones to access this information. Especially now that over 90 percent of smallholder farmers now have access to a basic mobile phone. Over 290,000 farmers have registered with WeFarm. Of 387,000 questions asked, over 540,000 answers have been given. In the six years that WeFarm has been operating, they have made it much easier for farmers to access crucial information, with the only cost being purchasing a basic mobile phone.

As of now, WeFarm is only available in three countries: Peru, Kenya and Uganda. Their website even shows a live feed of questions as they are asked and answered, along with a map to show where the questions originate from.

Although WeFarm is still young and growing, they have created an extremely helpful concept that can be implemented in many parts of the world without an Internet connection. WeFarm has created a way – by using a basic mobile phone – to share necessary information at a low cost to farmers around the world; its success thus far brings hope that WeFarm’s progress will spread to other countries and help farmers all over the world.

Rebekah Covey

Photo: Flickr

Crowdfunding App for RefugeesEdSeed, a new crowdfunding app for refugees, connects education facilities, donors and displaced university students on mobile phones. The app offers refugee students an opportunity to raise the money they need to attend an acclaimed university. It also provides an accessible and reliable method for people and corporations to donate to refugees in a way that will help them become self-reliant.

There is an estimation that, of the 65 million refugees in the world, only 1 percent have access to higher education. At least 200,000 Syrians had their post-secondary education interrupted when they had to flee their home country. No longer on the path to a degree, most of these previous students now find themselves struggling economically in a world that values educated workers.

The app gives students a social media-style profile where they supply details such as degree, university, career aspirations, past academic performance and personalized videos and pictures. Donors can filter their search to find the type of students they wish to support. Individuals can choose between $10 to $100 donations, while corporations can donate from $10,000.

Students can share their edSeed profiles on other social media sites, and the app will also campaign for specific profiles monthly who aren’t receiving as much attention. The students can also monitor their funding process and amounts.

EdSeed partners with universities and scholarship foundations who will verify student profiles and will receive the funds directly, providing a trustworthy platform for donors. The app hopes to raise 6,000 scholarships within three years.

Since its start in April, 500 students have already signed up and 12,000 individual and 3 corporate donors have expressed interest. However, edSeed hopes to accelerate its growth to handle more traffic.

EdSeed hopes to expand beyond higher education and provide funding for apprenticeships, mentoring organizations and other types of degrees that will provide refugees with a quicker route to economic independence. This crowdfunding app for refugees is on its way to help thousands of students worldwide.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Flickr

Female Genital MutilationIn 2017, five female Kenyan students created i-Cut, a female genital mutilation protection app that provides medical and legal assistance for girls who will or have gone through genital mutilation (FGM), a process where the outer part of the genitals are either partially or completely cut off.

The creators of the female genital mutilation app are Ivy Akinyi, Stacy Owino, Cynthia Otieno, Mascrine Atieno and Purity Achieng, who refer to themselves as the Restorers. According to CNN, Dorcas Adhiambo Owino was the girls’ mentor on the project.

The female genital mutilation protection app i-Cut, as explained in Ebony, has five options: “”help”, “rescue”, “report”, “information on FGM” and “donate and feedback”.” “Help” alerts the authorities when FGM is about to occur, and “Rescue” gives young women information about places to receive medical treatment after FGM. “Report” informs the authorities that an instance of FGM has occurred.

Although FGM is illegal in Kenya, it is still heavily practiced, with one in five girls experiencing it. According to Mashable, FGM is seen as a rite of passage in many communities, preparing young women for marriage and purportedly discouraging premarital sex. These traditions are commonly found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Unfortunately, girls experience many challenges after FGM. According to Mashable, young girls are often unable to go to school, which prevents many of them from being employed. There is also a connection between girls who become young wives and mothers and FGM. Worse still, many girls die as a result of the process.

The creators of the female genital mutilation app have a personal connection with FGM: even though their tribe is opposed to the practice, a friend of theirs from school went through it. The friend, as they explained to Reuters, was intelligent, but dropped out of school after the procedure was done. The app is meant to combat situations like this.

i-Cut is currently one of the technological innovations competing for the Technovation Challenge award of $15,000, and is the only African country represented this year. “Sponsored by Google, Salesforce and Adobe, Technovation challenges girls aged 10-18 to create an app that solves problems faced by their communities,” according to CNN.

Regardless of whether or not they receive the prize, the young inventors of the female genital mutilation protection app are content that the app gives young girls a way “to decide their own destinies.”

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr