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5 New Technologies in Latin AmericaSilicon Valley may be the world’s tech Mecca, but technological innovation isn’t restricted to the San Francisco Bay. Latin America is in the midst of a technological revolution. Nations like Argentina, Columbia and Mexico are continuing to invest in IT infrastructure and modernize STEM education standards. Latin American nations now rank higher than China and India in English fluency, making the region an appealing prospect for outsourcing IT services. Latin governments recognize the economic potential in new technology: Argentina’s Program AR ensures public school students learn to program while Columbia’s Plan Vive Digital finances 80 percent of tuition and fees for IT students. Those investments are paying dividends. Here are five new technologies in Latin America.

5 New Technologies in Latin America

  1. Clic Educa (Chile): Clic Educa is a modular e-learning platform developed in Chile. The program measures students’ emotional states and behavioral patterns and provides instructors with customized feedback. Teachers can modify Clic Educa’s curriculum and learning materials to best suit their needs. They can even design lesson plans for students with learning disabilities or other conditions.
  2. Emiti (Mexico): Emiti is a startup headquartered in Guadalajara, Mexico. It created a health-monitoring smartwatch for eldercare purposes. The watch includes an emergency button, and it automatically detects if the wearer is undergoing a medical emergency. Sudden falls and cardiac irregularities are among the conditions the device will detect.
  3. Biofase (Mexico): Environmental sustainability is a hot topic in the current zeitgeist. Chemical engineer Scott Munguia founded Mexico’s Biofase in 2014. It is a bioplastics firm that converts avocado seeds and synthetic organic compounds into plastic goods. Biofase uses only inedible food waste to manufacture its products. Its bioplastic degrades naturally, so the company’s operations do not contribute to food shortages or greenhouse gas emissions via waste incineration.
  4. Emi Labs (Argentina): Artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming business and technology worldwide, and Argentina is no exception. Emi Labs utilizes a virtual AI assistant to automate rote tasks necessary to HR operations such as screening resumes and scheduling interviews.
  5. La Casa Uruguaya (Uruguay): La Casa Uruguaya is an environmentally friendly construction project aiming to revolutionize the housing market by designing sustainable smart homes. These energy-efficient houses use solar energy, recycle water and employ a sensor network to regulate temperatures and lighting. La Casa Uruguaya’s homes are surprisingly affordable. They range in price from $50,000 to $90,000 and are installable in just 15 days.

These five new technologies in Latin America are but a few examples of the region’s ongoing tech boom. Latin America’s rapidly growing middle class offers entrepreneurs a consumer base for their products. Digital transformation is well underway. Internet penetration rests at 57 percent, but 70 percent of citizens subscribe to mobile plans. On average, Latin Americans log on to the internet for longer lengths of time than anyone else in the world. The next Silicon Valley may well rest south of the border.

– Dan Zamarelli
Photo: Newsroom

5 Human Trafficking Awareness AppsThere are more slaves now than ever before in human history. Because of this, human trafficking can often feel too big to tackle, but thanks to technology, there are practical ways to join the fight against trafficking in persons. Here are five human trafficking awareness apps that everyone should know.

5 Human Trafficking Awareness Apps

  1. Sweat & Toil – The Sweat & Toil app was created by the U.S. Department of Labor to inform consumers of items created through child labor or forced labor, allowing them to make more informed buying decisions. The app also provides global child labor data, research on countries’ efforts to eliminate child labor and a review of laws related to child and forced labor.
  2. The STOP APP – This app, created by STOP THE TRAFFIK, gives people the ability to anonymously report suspected human trafficking activity. The platform makes it easy to fill out a report and even add pictures if a witness is able to take them. The STOP APP is available in seven languages and can be used worldwide. The reports made on the app go directly to the STOP THE TRAFFIK database which can assist law enforcement in investigation efforts. STOP THE TRAFFIK is a campaign coalition founded in 2006 that seeks to educate, mobilize and equip communities with the resources they need to end human trafficking.
  3. Good On YouGood On You is another app that can increase human trafficking awareness. This app is an effective way to hold fashion brands accountable. Good On You researches clothing companies and compiles the information into an easy-to-understand score. The scores are based on companies’ commitments to doing better by people, animals and the earth. This includes sustainability efforts, animal testing and the treatment of employees. This app enables consumers to make informed decisions on where they are purchasing clothes and increases brand transparency. If a brand does not appear on the app, Good On You encourages users to reach out to them.
  4. TraffickCam – Specifically created for travelers, this app allows users to photograph their hotel rooms and add them to TraffickCam’s database. Law enforcement can then analyze submitted photos to find human trafficking locations. Traffickers regularly post pictures of sex trafficking victims in hotel rooms for online advertisements. The more pictures added to the database, the more likely law enforcement can track down the hotel. Prosecutors can also use these photos as evidence to convict traffickers. This app was created by Exchange Initiative (EI) in 2015. EI provides resources and educational programs to help fight sex trafficking. The mission of EI is to promote global awareness of sex trafficking and spark action at the local level.
  5. ACT! – ACT! is a game designed to help increase sex-trafficking awareness among junior high and high school students. This is an interactive, story-structured game. In the game, players pick a character and learn about manipulation into sex-trafficking through a friend who is dealing with it. The app asks players to identify red flags in different scenarios and quizzes players on the potential red flags. If stumped, players can use resources such as law enforcement and reference books to help them out. ACT! is a great way to make students aware of manipulation and coercion into sex-trafficking. It can also increase students’ awareness of their peers and potential red flags to look out for.

While they are not the only ones out there, these are apps can increase human trafficking awareness in small, practical ways. They are all free, easy to use and can make all the difference.

– Megan McKeough
Photo: Pxhere

African Agritech Startups
The World Bank predicts that agribusiness in Africa will grow to become a $1 trillion industry by 2030. This growth impacts poverty reduction efforts. For every 1 percent increase in agricultural GDP, poverty in the region decreases by 1 percent. Food security and stable growth in the region can be obtained by investments in agriculture. Specifically, a large branch of agriculture business on the rise is agricultural-tech in Sub-Saharan Africa. With African agritech startups launching in 2010, exponential growth has been seen since. 

Agritech companies, or disruptive agricultural technologies (DATs), aim to develop solutions to ongoing issues in the form of solar devices, mobile apps and even bio-fortified foods. These companies help farmers in two ways: increasing produce yield by 3-5x the baseline and/or connecting farmers directly to buyers and affordable equipment, effectively cutting out the middleman. These technological advances help farmers increase their output, efficiency and access to markets. With the help of agritech, farmers can combat a lack of regional resources and reduce poverty.

5 African Agritech Startups Tackling Poverty

  1. Kitovu is a Nigerian based mobile app that was launched in 2016. The startup’s goal is to help farmers increase their crop yield while guaranteeing sales directly to buyers. Kitovu’s primary motivation evolved from post-harvest loss and waste occurring in roughly 40 percent of crops. This waste is partly due to small farmers being required to sell their goods through intermediaries who take a large portion of the profit. To reduce loss and decrease corruption, Kitovu connects farmers directly to processing companies and relevant consumers. With this information, farmers use Kitovu’s FarmPack to provide insight into the purchase of crop-specific fertilizers, appropriate seeds and agrochemicals. Kitovu also has a user exchange feature, called FarmSwap, that allows farmers to trade produce, thus gaining additional funding through inputs financing. Lastly, Kitovu offers a third feature, called eProcure, to help farmers with various supply chain needs, including exportation and necessary operational machinery.
  2. Agrocenta is a four-tiered software platform founded in Ghana in 2015. Similar to Kitovu, Agrocenta seeks to solve a common barrier to farmers: a lack of access to buyers and financing options. Four distinct platforms are offered. AgroTrade simulates an active marketplace that connects farmers of staples directly to buyers. AgroPay creates a reliable log for various products. AgroInfo delivers industry news such as crop prices and weather updates. Finally, Truckr partners directly with Ghana Private Road Transport Union to ensure drivers deliver goods efficiently. With these services, Agrocenta services more than 46,000 individual farmers.
  3. AgriPredict is a Zambian-based agritech company created by CEO Mwila Kangwa that utilizes AI to help around 22,000 farmers manage risks of environmental disasters, including drought, pests and crop diseases. This mobile app and web-based platform predicts weather patterns and identifies crop diseases through machine learning. A farmer will take a photo of the diseased crop and upload it to the app where the output will be a real-time diagnosis, treatment options and a location of the nearest agricultural supply store. Additionally, AgriPredict has a tool that helps farmers estimate their yield of a specific plot of land.
  4. Yellow Beast Tech is aiming to solve severe water shortages, like the shortages that plagued South Africa from 2015 to 2018. During this time, city dam water levels fell below the typical level by 13.5 percent. Founded by civil engineers, Pontisho Molestane and Matebele Moshoni, the company invents, manufactures, sells and installs irrigation systems aimed to limit water waste. Additionally, the device uses AI to analyze the most optimal conditions for the soil-crop system to aid farmers in maximizing crop yield while limiting water usage.
  5. Hello Tractor, a mobile app, was founded in 2015 to provide affordable equipment to farmers in Nigeria and Kenya. The app connects tractor owners, small-scale farmers, banks and dealers to locate the best solutions. A monitoring device is first attached to the tractor and connected to the cloud. Relevant data is transmitted to stakeholders to optimize agricultural business networking and production. According to the company, 22,500 farmers have been served to date. Further, these farmers see about a 200 percent increase in crop yield.

African agritech startups show promise for the continent by addressing the needs of the ever-increasing population. Not only do these five startups provide an innovative approach to addressing systemic issues in the sector, but concrete solutions to food security and poverty as well.

– Danielle Barnes
Photo: Flickr

Clean Cooking Technology
Wood-based cooking harms the health of humans and the environment. KopaGas is one of many social enterprises tackling this problem by transitioning Tanzanian families to a clean cooking technology that is gas-based rather than wood-based through an innovative pay-as-you-go business model.

Imagine that a family is cooking dinner in the kitchen. They put charcoal into the stove and water for stew begins to boil. As the water heats, thick, grey smoke from the stove fills the room, the family’s lungs and the surrounding forest. In Tanzania, 96 percent of the population still uses dirty fuel sources like charcoal and firewood for cooking purposes. This has a harmful impact on respiratory health and the country’s ecology.

Effects of Wood-Based Cooking

Cooking with charcoal and firewood is comparable to exposing oneself to the smoke of 400 cigarettes per hour. Such air contamination contributes to roughly 4.3 million deaths per year worldwide. In Tanzania, respiratory infections are the second leading cause of death after malaria. In addition to devastating health effects, the resulting smoke causes ecological damage, particularly deforestation. A shocking 55 percent of the global wood harvest, representing 9 percent of primary energy supply, stems from traditional woodfuels.

To add to this, most wood-burning stoves are inefficient. Around 85 to 90 percent of the energy content of wood that people use for cooking becomes lost through the process of combustion. Such inefficiency means that people need to cut down more trees to satisfy the demand for woodfuel.

KopaGas as a Solution

Scientists Sebastian Rodriguez-Sanchez and Andron Mendes sought to address these health and environmental challenges head-on by creating clean cooking technology. In 2015, Rodriguez-Sanchez and Mendes co-founded KopaGas. The enterprise uses proprietary technology to help Tanzanian families transition to gas-based cooking.

Households pay an upfront fee of $6.50 to receive a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cooking kit. Families pay for the gas through a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model via mobile phone payment. A smart meter that attaches to the LPG cooking kit measures gas consumption feeding back into the mobile application. Transparent information allows families to understand consumption patterns which can help return control over personal finances.

KopaGas’ innovation is revolutionary not because it utilizes clean cooking methods, but rather because it makes gas-cooking affordable through the PAYG system. Rodriguez-Sanchez told Reuters that the PAYG model needs to prove itself at a large scale to attract greater levels of investment. However, KopaGas is already gaining early financial support from the Acumen Fund, HRSV, Saisan Co. and DEG / KFW.

In January 2020, the U.K.-based holding company, Circle Gas Limited, acquired KopaGas’ PAYG technology. The company aims to expand access to technology across Sub-Saharan Africa, where 900 million people have yet to transition to modern and clean cooking fuels. Further expansion will then move into East Africa where the focus of 2020 is in Kenya.

Innovating Clean Cooking

While KopaGas is attempting to transition households from woodfuel-based cooking to gas-cooking, others are taking completely different approaches. One example is ServedOnSalt, launched by former Nordic Food Lab executive Roberto Flore. The project developed a battery using solar energy, salt and water to create a cheap and clean-powered cooking stove. KopaGas, ServedOnSalt and other social enterprises within the clean cooking technology space are fundamentally transforming cooking practices in developing areas. These innovations are improving the health of humans and the planet.

– Kate McGinn
Photo: Flickr

Kershaw’s Challenge's Impact
In 2011, LA Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and wife Ellen Kershaw started Kershaw’s Challenge, a faith-based, nonprofit organization. They founded the organization with the goal of encouraging people to use their talents to give back to people in need. Nine years later with the same goal at heart, Kershaw’s Challenge’s impact on the Dominican Republic continues to grow through Both Ends Believing and International Justice Mission.

While Kershaw’s Challenge focused solely on Zambia at its start, it expanded to focus on Dallas and Los Angeles in 2012 and in 2015, widened its reach to the Dominican Republic. In 2019, the organization announced its partnerships with Both Ends Believing and International Justice Mission, focusing on the Dominican Republic. Both Clayton and Ellen felt led to serve the Dominican Republic because they knew many fellow baseball players and teammates from the country.

Both Ends Believing (BEB)

In May 2019, Kershaw’s Challenge announced Both Ends Believing (BEB) as its new beneficiary. BEB’s mission is to “see every child grown up in a family” and has implemented Child First software to accomplish this.

According to SOS Children’s Villages, nearly 578,000 children under the age of 15 in the Dominican Republic are without parental care. Child pregnancy, chronic disease and mental or physical disabilities are among the factors that lead children to be at risk of being without care.

Through BEB’s software, it is able to identify children living in situations where they are vulnerable or at risk of neglect. BEB is then able to form a plan to get children out of these situations and into a loving home.

Kershaw’s Challenge’s impact on the Dominican Republic has continued through its support of Both Ends Believing. Its partnership with BEB also has a focus on Zambia, its other international beneficiary.

International Justice Mission (IJM)

In August 2019, Kershaw’s Challenge announced International Justice Mission (IJM) as its new beneficiary, focusing on efforts combatting human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Several months earlier, Clayton and Ellen Kershaw traveled to the Dominican Republic alongside IJM. While there, they had the opportunity to meet with the Dominican Republic’s President, Danilo Medina, and they discussed the exploitation of children in the area. They were also able to visit Santo Domingo’s red-light district where they spent an afternoon playing baseball with survivors of sex trafficking. They even spent a night undercover in Boca Chica, where they saw trafficking first-hand.

According to the International Justice Mission, human trafficking in the Dominican Republic is mainly street-based, where customers can purchase young girls very easily. IJM has rescued more than 120 children and young women and has restrained more than 30 criminals since it opened its field office in the Dominican Republic back in 2013.

Through its partnership with IJM, Kershaw’s Challenge hopes to focus on the rescue and restoration of survivors, the restraint of suspects and the conviction of traffickers in the Dominican Republic. The organization also wants to help improve aftercare and investigation programs.

7th Annual PingPong4Purpose

In August 2019, Kershaw’s Challenge hosted its seventh Annual PingPong4Purpose, where it had a Giving Wall that raised funds for a rescue mission through IJM. A portion of the proceeds also went to Both Ends Believing, as well as its other national beneficiaries.

Kershaw’s Challenge’s impact on the Dominican Republic has been great through both International Justice Mission and Both Ends Believing, as both organizations remain a special cause for both Clayton and Ellen. Kershaw’s Challenge plans to announce its 2020 beneficiaries on Opening Day, March 26, 2020. People can donate to Kershaw’s Challenge directly through its website, and can also support the organization through buying merchandise or attending events.

 – Megan McKeough
Photo: Flickr

Internet Access Helps Impoverished Nations
As of 2018, 4.1 billion people currently have internet access. This is roughly 95 percent of the world’s 7.1 million population. According to a data graph constructed by Our World in Data, the majority of this internet access is in North America and Asia. Comparatively, on average only about 20 percent of the population of Africa has internet access. Meanwhile, over 60 percent of India’s population lives under the poverty line and only 26 percent of the country’s population has internet access. Internet access can help impoverished nations, though, which is why there are efforts to bring it to places it is not available currently.

Connecting the Globe

Providing a country with internet access is more than just access to the internet. It is also about global connections. Internet.org is an organization that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created, which explains that the internet should be a global right. This is due to the wealth of information that the internet contains. Global Citizen also asserts that if Africa had access to the information that the internet provided, it may be able to jumpstart its infrastructure.

Causes of Lack of Internet Access

Weform.org explains the following reasons for lack of internet access across the world:

  • Countries do not have the proper infrastructure to provide their people with an internet connection. According to the United Nations (U.N.), however, the establishment of 3G networks could be one effort toward improvement.
  • A 3G network currently covers only 60 percent of the world. By 2020, the U.N. expects that 97 percent of the world will have full 3G coverage.

  • Cost is also a major factor because 13 percent of the world’s population currently lives under the poverty line.

  • People in these countries do not always have the skills necessary to properly use the internet. Also, 13 percent of the global population is illiterate.

  • Eighty percent of internet content is only available in 10 different languages and less than half of the global population speaks these languages.

Looking Toward the Future

Internet access can help impoverished nations see major improvements. Google created a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country of Nigeria in 2018. Global Citizen estimated that this could generate $300 billion for Africa’s total GDP by 2025. The Nigerian government is taking notice of the efforts led by Google. President Yemi Osinbajo visited Silicon Valley in 2018 and attended the launch of the Google hotspots, according to Global Citizen. This shows that an increase in technology not only improves conditions for a nation’s people but can also help local governments understand how internet access can reduce poverty.

Another way internet access can reduce poverty is by providing support for those suffering from poverty. Telecommunications company Vodafone launched Vodafone’s Farmers’ Club. Esoko states that the organization provides over 1 million farmers with phones. This allows access to numerous services including farming tips, weather updates and nutrition tips. According to Dela A. Kumahor, who served as a design expert on the project, research showed that farmers often feel restricted by their low amount of technology literacy and lack of business sense. According to The Guardian, Vodafone has done the research to show that mobile-focused agricultural services could lead to a $34 billion increase in 26 different markets by 2020. The service has also rolled out in Turkey, where 500,000 farmers have signed onto the project. This has led to a $100 million increase in farmer productivity.

Internet access can help impoverished nations that need relief. The internet provides jobs, services and connections that allow people, governments and industries the opportunity to help their countries fight global poverty. Improving agriculture and providing services are just two of the ways that internet access can reduce poverty.

– Jacob Creswell
Photo: Flickr

Labor Exploitation at Foxconn ChinaFoxconn China is a major factory town in Shenzhen, China. It is a factory town that a Taiwanese company called Foxconn created. Foxconn is one of the largest contract electronics manufacturers in the world. People commonly refer to the town as Foxconn City and it employs over 350,000 workers. Foxconn bans the outside world from entering its large factory town. Major tech companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Dell, Google and Hewlett-Packard, contracts Foxconn to produce electronics. Here is some information about the labor exploitation at Foxconn China.

Labor Exploitation at Foxconn China

In 2010, labor exploitation at Foxconn China came into the spotlight when numerous workers committed suicide by throwing themselves off their dorm buildings. Reports determined that there were 18 suicide attempts and 14 confirmed accounts of death in 2010. One might question if the working conditions changed in 2019.

Labor exploitation at Foxconn China takes on multiple forms. On a surface level, all of the line workers at Foxconn China seem to be full-time employees. What many do not know, however, is that many line workers at Foxconn China are part-time student workers. These part-time workers are usually students from Chinese trade schools who are “interning” at Foxconn’s factories. These so-called internships are usually underpaid line jobs.

These part-time student workers are in danger of labor exploitation at Foxconn China. Oftentimes, these “interns” only receive $3.15 per hour. In 2019, Amazon.com came under scrutiny for violating Chinese labor law concerning these student laborers. In China Labor Watch’s 2019 report, the organization accused Amazon’s Foxconn factory of violating the Chinese student worker laws. Because each intern worker receives a production quota, they must do overtime and night shifts, which Chinese labor law does not allow.

The Reality of Labor Exploitation

The Guardian’s 2017 report gives a glimpse into labor exploitation at Foxconn China. Suicide notes and interviews with suicide survivors reported that workers at Foxconn China experience long workdays, harsh management and minimal pay. The Guardian interviewed a young man named Xu. Xu told the Guardian that the management of Foxconn China is often harsh to its workers. According to Xu, managers of Foxconn factories often publicly humiliate workers for being slow or make promises that they will not keep. In one case, Xu stated that a manager promised to pay double for overtime hours but only gave regular pay. This kind of degradation and inhumane work hours seems to be the root cause of suicides in Foxconn.

In 2019, Apple and Foxconn came under scrutiny for breaking the Chinese labor law. China Labor Watch’s investigation revealed that, as of August 2019, 50 percent of the workers in Foxconn City were temporary workers. According to Chinese labor law, only a maximum of 10 percent of a company’s employees can be part-time workers. In addition, the Chinese Labor Watch accused Foxconn China of making its student interns and workers do overtime. Chinese labor law on student internships does not allow student interns to work overtime or night shifts. While Apple denied many of the accusations, Apple did admit that the number of part-time workers in its Foxconn facilities exceeded the Chinese labor law’s regulation.

The Future for Foxconn Workers

Li Qiang, the director of China Labor Watch, gave a piece of hopeful news in her interview with a software company called Moz. Li pointed to a couple of improvements that Apple made in regards to fostering better working conditions for its line workers. Apple started to issue reports on the state of working conditions for its factories overseas. In addition, some experts suggested that a decrease in iPhone sales might also help the Chinese line workers. Due to the falling sales numbers, Foxconn had to cut back on both employee counts and overtime hours. As a result, many manufacturing employees are quitting their jobs, which may force the factories and management to treat their next round of employees better.

It is true that Foxconn China has not made any major improvements since the 2010 suicides. However, it is clear that major companies such as Apple are making an effort to improve the lives of the Chinese line workers at Foxconn China. While these minor improvements on labor exploitation at Foxconn China might not look like enough, it is the collection of these small changes that can bring about a major change and improvement. As long as there are people who closely monitor the labor exploitation in Foxconn China, there will be future improvements for the workers in China.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Equal Food Distribution
One of the leading causes of malnutrition is the lack of equal food distribution. According to the World Economic Forum, Americans spend 6.4 percent of their income on food. Meanwhile, households in impoverished countries can spend up to 80 percent of their income on food. These numbers show a clear uneven trend in distributing food to people in need. Equal food distribution is also at risk from another influencer on poverty: population growth. Even in developed countries, the current rate of food distribution will eventually be unable to keep up with population growth. Distributing food to people in need will soon become an issue for not just underdeveloped countries, but for developed countries as well. 

One way of solving the growing issue of food distribution is through the utilization of new technologies. A combination of developing technologies, new economic models and support from global leaders could lead to curbing the problems behind food distribution for both the developing and underdeveloped world.

Text Message-based Farmer Assistance

In Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, farmers have access to a service that functions through text messages. Provided by CGIAR, an organization focused on water, land and ecosystems, farmers can send a message through SMS (short message service) to request updates on the best way to grow their crops. People know this service as ICT, or Information and Communication Technology. According to CGIAR, farmers send one message code when they want to see an update on their crop growth and water-use efficiency compared to other farmers using the service. Based on this data, experts monitoring the farming data can identify irregularities and alert the farmer. One issue that CGIAR sees going forward is funding. Maintaining its database would require more funding than what farmers or smallholders have already offered. However, this service would be able to help farmers, in areas of need, increase the amount their farms produce.

Using ICTs to help feed people in need has shown promising results. An ICT service will help improve irrigation and water drainage in Egypt. This service has seen a 25 percent increase in crop yields during its first phase of implementation. Magrabi Farms has also implemented ICT to allow the proper irrigation of over 8,000 acres of land.

Farming and Machine Learning

Increasing farm production is a common method of tackling the issue of distributing food to people in need. Sciforce says that almost every step of farm production uses machine learning. Machine learning, according to Sciforce, is “the scientific field that gives machines the ability to learn without being strictly programmed.” Farmers can use machine learning to:

  • Find which genes would help a crop survive in adverse weather conditions.

  • Manage the soil and help farmers understand the ecosystem they are growing in.

  • Manage water and allow farmers to be more efficient with their irrigation systems.

  • Improve the prediction of crop yield.

  • Fight disease and weeds by using a calculated distribution of agrochemicals that only target specific plants.

Machine learning accomplishes all of this by analyzing decades of farming records. It uses a combination of algorithms and scientific models to best apply the trends from decades of farming data.

NBC News reported that Carnegie Mellon University roboticist George Kantor claimed that machine learning could increase the variety of grain sorghum from 100 different variants to 1,000. Machine learning could do this by examining the crop’s genetic code.

Weather Forecasts

Another way to ensure that countries are able to distribute food to people in need is by improving distribution itself. The Weather Company’s Agricultural Head, Carrie Gillespie, stated that “A lot of food waste happens during distribution…” Suppliers often use weather forecasts when distributing food to people in need. Due to distribution including the harvesting process, these weather reports can help farmers know when the soil is at its best for harvesting.

3D Printing

While this may seem like an idea from a sci-fi movie, 3D printing is a technology that may soon allow food printing. Jordan French, CEO at a 3D food printing startup called BeeHex, explains that 3D food printing could allow for customization of food products based on the certain wants and needs of the consumer. This could include developing food with certain nutrients that an impoverished community may be lacking, much like the recently FDA-approved golden rice, which emerged to treat a global vitamin A deficiency.

Jordan French also theorizes that 3D printing food could eliminate the need for distribution altogether, as it would create a bridge between the producer and the consumer.

The market for 3D-printed food is rising in profits by 46 percent each year until 2023. Mark Crawford of ASME.org alludes that this is due to how the technology could provide a solution to distributing food to people in need.

These technologies aim to tackle the challenges of distributing food to the impoverished for the sake of equal food distribution. Improving farming quality through databases and machine learning, watching the weather to allow for better distribution and even bypassing the need for food production are just some developing technologies that have the potential to assist the world’s hungry.

Jacob Creswell
Photo: United Nations

7 Facts about Technology in Kenya
Kenya is a small coastal nation in northeast Africa. Known as a popular tourist destination, people praise Kenya for its tea exports, beautiful landscapes and rich biodiversity. Currently, Kenya is engaged in a rapid expansion of its information technology sector. This makes it one of the notable tech hubs in the developing world. Here are seven facts about technology in Kenya.

7 Facts About Technology in Kenya

  1. Nicknamed the “Silicon Savannah,” Kenya is regarded as the second-best innovation hub in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tech start-ups thrive in Kenya, due in part to the ready availability of credit lines and other forms of financing. 2019 was the ninth consecutive year Kenya exceeded the innovation relative to GDP figures expected from middle-income nations.
  2. Mobile financial transaction apps are especially popular in Kenya. Nearly 70 percent of the population uses these apps regularly. This is partially because the Kenyan government privatized the state-managed telecommunication services, leading to the eventual emergence of Safaricom, the now dominant face of telecommunications in Kenya. Safaricom debuted its first money-transfer app, M-Pesa, in 2007.
  3. M-Pesa is not the only successful mobile app in Kenya. Farmer Su Kahumbu Stephanou created iCow in 2011. iCow’s original function enabled farmers to monitor their cows’ breeding cycles and milk production. iCow gradually updated to feature advice and information for farmers to use to maximize their income potential. Since iCow runs on SMS, it’s available to farmers who can only afford older models of mobile phones.
  4. Kenya’s once outdated telecommunications networks are now some of the most cutting edge in Africa. Kenyans residing in urban areas have easy access to fast and affordable internet. The internet infrastructure in rural areas is catching up. Internet subscription rates increased from 29.6 percent in 2017 to 41.1 percent in 2018. As of June 2018, 97.8 percent of Kenyans owned a mobile phone subscription.
  5. iHub, a technology-focused co-working facility in Nairobi, opened in 2010. Today, it houses dozens of tech companies, researchers and entrepreneurs. iHub and Nairobi’s other tech incubators and innovation centers have enticed foreign venture capitalists and international companies like Google and Microsoft to invest in the local tech scene. Funding for tech startups rose 92.7 million USD in 2016, to 147 million the following year. In 2020, Nairobi will host the Next Einstein Forum, Africa’s marquee science and technology conference.
  6. A study conducted by the International Development Research Center in partnership with Oxford Insights determined that Kenya is well-equipped to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) technology solutions. Kenya employs some AI technologies, including sexual and reproductive health monitoring chat bots. While 78 percent of Kenya’s largest corporations have integrated modern IT solutions into business operations, only 20 to 40 percent of the nation’s smaller-scale businesses have done so.
  7. Kenya’s early success in tech enterprises encouraged the government to double-down in support of its new industry. The national Internet Communications Technology board worked with iHub on multiple projects. The government also instituted Vision 2030, a strategy to construct the infrastructure backbone necessary for further IT development. Plans are even underway to design and build a new city meant to serve as a national tech-hub. These plans are estimated to cost as much as 7 billion USD.

Although still in its early stages, Kenya’s emerging technology sector has quickly grown into a lucrative slice of the national economic pie. These seven facts about technology in Kenya show that the country is innovative and has made great progress in improving the availability of technology to its citizens.

Dan Zamarelli
Photo: Flickr

Telemedicine In BangladeshBangladesh, a South Asian country known for its river deltas and coastal regions, has faced rapid urbanization and environmental degradation due to large-scale flooding across the country. Increasing population density and environmental erosion have made many Bangladeshis the subjects of devastating poverty. In 2018, The World Bank reported that, while the situation in Bangladesh has drastically improved since the 1990s, 22 million people still fall below the poverty line. For many, this means their health is in jeopardy, health care education suffers compromise and access to medical services is nearly impossible.

Today, there is still a stigma surrounding the need for health care in certain rural regions of Bangladesh. One common saying is “rog pushai rakha.” In Bengali, the phrase translates to “stockpiling their diseases.” This refers to the lack of importance Bangladeshis have placed on their health care. In some cases, portrayals still show medicine as inaccessible and unnecessary. This mindset can spell trouble for those living in rural Bangladesh where medicine was not always widely available.

However, the emergence of new medical communication technology, known as telemedicine, is changing the outlook for health care in Bangladesh.

What Telemedicine is and How it Works

Telemedicine, sometimes called telehealth, is “a direct line — whether it’s a phone call, video chat or text message — to a physician or care provider via telecommunication.” It is a rapidly growing technology in the health care field around the world as it ensures easier access to those who may not otherwise receive medical care.

While the technology initially focused on elderly patients and those with disabilities, telemedicine is now helping people in countries with critical health care gaps caused by geography, limited numbers of physicians and financial restraints.

Telemedicine in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, access to health care largely concentrates in urban areas. This means there is a large gap in health care between rural and urban areas. Seventy percent of Bangladeshis live in rural areas, according to the World Health Organization.

Telemedicine in Bangladesh is a recent advancement. In 1999, it first entered rural regions of Bangladesh that did not have easy access to medical care. While the initial care lacked critical technology infrastructure, the recent expansion of bandwidths and networks into rural areas has made telemedicine more accessible for Bangladeshis.

Moreover, the Bangladeshi government has taken steps to facilitate health care needs by establishing new telemedicine programs. In 2001, the government established a cooperative known as the Bangladesh Telemedicine Association to promote telemedicine organizations. In 2003, the Sustainable Development Network Program emerged to promote cooperation between different providers.

A boat delivers laptops, medical tools and prescription printing devices each week to rural areas in Bangladesh. Individuals in need of care can travel to temporary medical centers where they receive access to physician care through the internet. These checkups are similar to checkups that established medical centers offer where patients can describe their condition, ask questions and obtain prescription drugs.

Telemedicine in Bangladesh is beneficial for more than sickness. This new technology also allows individuals to ask questions concerning their personal development, their child’s development and their nutritional needs. For many, this is a life-changing experience that not only helps with illness but also expands the general knowledge and understanding of people who did not previously have access to such education.

Nonprofits Helping the Cause

The introduction of telemedicine in Bangladesh would not be possible without local cooperation. One non-governmental organization (NGO) helping the cause is Friendship Bangladesh. Friendship Bangladesh, an NGO started in 1994, emerged to “help poor people in remote and unaddressed communities in Bangladesh.” Its aid includes a variety of programs, including those focused on education, economic development, disaster management, citizenship and cultural preservation. The organization’s special emphasis on health care has led to the emergence of telehealth solutions.

The development of mHealth, an app that can diagnose up to 32 common illnesses, and SATMED, a satellite service that allows local NGOs to share patient information using the internet, are innovative solutions to the health care problems in Bangladesh. These programs, developed by Friendship Bangladesh, have dramatically increased access and improved the efficiency of health care.

In 2017, Friendship Bangladesh provided a total of 4.2 million people with access to Friendship’s health care, including 48,000 who garnered access to the mHealth app. Friendship also employed three floating hospitals with access to satellite communication and conducted 1,392 nutrition demonstrations to help educate people on nutritional needs.

In 2020, Friendship aims to increase the number of satellite clinic days, strengthen the nutritional demonstration sessions and maintain the current floating hospitals.

The Future of Medicine in Bangladesh

Most recently, in 2018, a new telemedicine technology entered Bangladesh. Teledaktar (TD) is the newest virtual medical service that is helping expand access to medical care, according to  NPR. By creating makeshift medical centers in rural regions with little access to health care, TD is further closing the gap between doctors and patients in the most rural areas of the country.

Despite the challenges in Bangladesh, access to adequate health care is possible. The inclusion of telemedicine into common health care practices is one development in improving health care. An increase in trained physicians, along with an increase in rural health facilities, are among the recent successes to Bangladeshi health care. Moreover, the government initiation of a stakeholder dialogue with the U.N. Human Resource for Health (HRH) has created more effective dialogues that advocate for the expansion of health care across the country. With new programs, new partners and new technologies, the future of medicine in Bangladesh is hopeful.

Aly Hill
Photo: Flickr