Global Hunger In 2021, the number of people affected by hunger globally rose to 828 million, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Lack of access to food, nutrients and water is a challenge that many people face, especially in underdeveloped countries. On the bright side, the following tech innovations are helping to put an end to global hunger. 

ShareTheMeal App

ShareTheMeal is a global app that allows you to donate meals to children in need all over the world. One in seven children does not have enough food to lead a healthy and active life. This app only requires one press of a button and $0.8 to feed a hungry child for one full day. The United Nations World Food Program provides the meal and shows you the location of the children you are helping. Its purpose is to empower people to end global hunger, and it has already shared at least 3 million meals across more than 80 countries

Going Digital in Ethiopia

Around 83% of Ethiopians live in rural areas where many families are dependent on their own agricultural production. It is vital for them to have access to education on agronomic information. According to the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), ensuring farmers receive up-to-date knowledge and data pertaining to agronomic information in a timely manner remains a great challenge in Ethiopia. However, Ethiopia now has an Agricultural and Farmer Hotline created by the ATA. With the creation of this hotline, about 500,000 users receive updated agronomic information on their cell phones via text messages and automated calls to help plan their operations. Having immediate access to new information will help smallholders make more informed decisions about their farming practices. The hotline also launched a Helpdesk that allows smallholders to ask questions and report issues to experts in the field.  

The Sanku Dosifier

Nearly half of the deaths among children under 5 years old are linked to undernutrition according to WHO. Globally, 8,000 children die every day due to preventable illness because of the lack of basic minerals and vitamins in their diet. However, the award-winning Sanku’s Dosifier adds precise amounts of essential nutrients into flour during the milling process. Sanku’s solution focuses on communities living in poverty. Most of these communities cannot afford fresh, nutrient-dense food items, so instead they live on calorie-dense, nutrient-poor maize flour to ease their hunger. Sanku partners with millers whose customers have a high incidence of poverty. Around 95% of those that Sanku has reached live on less than $5 a day and struggle to intake all of the necessary nutrients. So far, 2 million lives have been impacted by the Sanku Dosifier. 

Hippo Roller 

The average distance for women and children to walk for water in Africa and Asia is 3.7 miles according to World Visions. These communities typically balance heavy loads of water on their head (about 5 gallons), making it hard to access clean water without exhaustion. However, Hippo Roller is a drum that rolls over most terrain and holds about 24 gallons of water per drum. This reduces the time and hard work put forth just to access clean water. So far, 65,000 rollers have impacted lives throughout 50+ countries. 

WFP Innovation Accelerator Producing Less Food Waste

Almost one-fourth of produce grown for export in Kenya is rejected purely for its looks. According to WFP, that is the equivalent of throwing away 600,000 tomatoes every day purely because they “look ugly.” WFP launched a pilot project to change the destination of these vegetables from landfills to lunch by sending them into the country’s school meals program. The initiative is reducing food waste while also providing more meals for children in Kenya. Throughout the first four months of the initial project, WFP rescued more than five tons of produce and transformed it into meals for 2,200 children for 75 days

– Paige Falk
Photo: Unsplash

Education system in CameroonCameroon is a lower-middle-income country that showcases Africa’s rich geographic and cultural diversity. Its population of around 27 million people inhabits tropical rain forests, vast deserts as well as its volcanic highlands and bustling big cities.

It is home not only to a diverse geographic landscape but also a complex cultural landscape that has been deeply scarred by its colonial past. Since 2017, the English-speaking minority has been waging a war against the Francophone-dominated government. The U.N. estimates that more than half of the population in the Anglophone regions are in need of humanitarian support while about 600,000 children are not able to access standard education because of the conflict.

The spread of COVID-19 across Cameroon brought with it many challenges and forced the entire population to change their habits. With the disruption to normal routines and face-to-face activities, people have become more aware of the importance of technology and how much Cameroon’s education system can benefit from these alternative solutions.

Existing Problems

Cameroon has had a complicated past; following the end of World War I, the League of Nations divided what was then German Kamerun into two new sections, with France ruling most of modern Cameroon and the Western Fifth (today’s Northwest and Southwest regions) under British rule. Tensions between Anglophone and Francophone regions have been consistent since the beginning and education has often been a key battleground in the conflict. In 2019, UNICEF reported that 855,000 children in the Northwest and Southwest regions were out of school.

These social fractures inherited from years of colonial rule have made it hard to create a coordinated countrywide curriculum, with the education system in Cameroon divided between the Anglophone and Francophone systems.

The government does not exactly consider education to be a priority. In 2020, Cameroon spent just 3.2% of its GDP on education, well below the world average of 4.5%.

Attacks that the terrorist organization Boko Haram led mainly targeted schools in northern Cameroon, and involved the killing and kidnapping of thousands of school children and the closure of hundreds of schools.

There is a marked gap between the education of the rural and urban population, boys and girls and rich and poor. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this and forced schools to close and resort to other alternatives.

The Impact of COVID-19

As in the rest of the world, the pandemic has had damaging effects on Cameroon’s education system. This has led to worries that more people could fall into poverty, and this could further intensify the gap between rich and poor.

On the bright side, the pandemic has also been a chance for Cameroon to demonstrate its desire for technological advancements. The closure of all schools and universities in March 2020 forced students to continue their learning from home. For those with a stable internet connection and television, access to learning resources was more simple; the government transformed the national television channel, CRTV, into a classroom during certain time slots in the day and students were able to send SMS messages (in theory) for any queries they had. Unfortunately, many people, especially those in rural areas were not able to access these classes. This is because around 35% of Cameroonians do not have access to electricity, highlighting the need for other learning alternatives. In light of this, Cameroon adopted a software program known as the Avicenna Virtual Campus Network (AVCN), showing its eagerness to embrace technological solutions.

Avicenna Virtual Campus Network

In July 2019, as part of the response to the Anglophone conflict in the North West and South West regions, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the support of Education Cannot Wait, implemented an Emergency Response Plan to provide education to all children in the area. Only 20% of formal schools have been able to remain open since the beginning of the conflict. This suggests that home learning initiatives such as the Avicenna Platform have been essential in the continuation of education in Cameroon.

The aim of AVCN is to support the promotion of a more equitable education system in Cameroon with its online and offline learning platform (its Mobile Virtual Avicenna Classroom works without electricity or the Internet). The system comprises a Nano-server, a Nano-projector and solar tablets that allows students to learn even in the most isolated regions of the country. The closure of all schools across the country in 2020 meant that the Avicenna Platform became even more relevant, reaching over 21,000 children who would have otherwise struggled to continue learning.

Looking Ahead

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of developing digital solutions for the education system in Cameroon. Although there is still a lot of work necessary, the rate of digital penetration since the outbreak of COVID-19 has increased by 10%. The ongoing conflict, which has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 civilians and displaced millions of people is now the main problem facing further advancements in the education system. Focusing efforts on technological advancements could be a key part of ensuring a more positive future for the country’s education system.

– Almaz Nerurkar
Photo: Flickr