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

UNESCO and Worldreader are providing mobile devices to fight illiteracy. According to UNESCO there is direct relationship between poverty and illiteracy. People living below the poverty line and those who are illiterate are in the same portion of the population. Increasing the availability of books to the almost 800 million illiterate adults and children in developing countries will change lives.

Knowing how to read and write improves educational success, health, earning potential, safety, and ultimately breaks the cycle of poverty. Literate people are empowered to seek jobs for which they might otherwise be unqualified. The increase in earnings potential contributes to overall economic growth. Literacy is related to improved self-esteem, increased community involvement, and more.

Socio-economic status is directly linked to literacy. People living in poverty and lacking access to enough food and clean water are less likely to attend school and learn to read and write. Adult literacy rates are lower in households belonging to the poorest people. In countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the Sudan and Togo there is a 40 percent literacy gap between those living in poverty and the rich.

Access to books is necessary so that children can develop reading and writing skills, yet as many as 40 percent of schools in Africa do not have access to reading material, and if they do, it is not current, level-appropriate, or relevant to readers’ interests. Only five percent of poor families in developing countries have books in their homes for children under the age of five.

What is the answer?  Worldreader believes that providing mobile devices to fight illiteracy is part of the answer. Almost six billion of the seven billion people on Earth have access to a mobile device, providing mobile devices. Providing access to mobile devices including mobile phones, e-reader apps and e-readers will help to level the playing field.

In places where access to books is limited, Worldreader and UNESCO are helping by providing mobile devices to fight illiteracy. Worldreader is providing schools with e-readers, mobile phones as well as the Worldreader Mobile reading app. Authors and publishers around the world are helping by translating and digitizing popular book titles as well as top trade and textbook titles. Most books are free.

In surveys and interviews conducted by UNESCO and completed by more than 4,000 people in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, it was revealed that people read more on mobile devices and enjoy reading more, too. They also read to their children more from mobile devices.

Clearly leaving a bunch of books on a table or even on a mobile device does not necessarily mean that people will read, but they certainly won’t if they don’t have access. Hopefully, having access will promote both curiosity and literacy.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr

More people in Africa now have access to mobile phones than to toilets. While that may be a concerning statistic when talking about bio-security, the saturation of cell phones and the ease of data transfer and communication has opened the door to many creative solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing issues.

Humanitarian efforts, from tracking disease to analyzing hate speech, to helping farmers track market prices have all found an unexpected ally in mobile technology. Below are four mobile technologies in Africa that are making a difference.

Pulse Lab, use of telecommunications data to track measles outbreaks

Pulse Lab based out of Kampala, Uganda has found a unique way to predict disease outbreaks in the country, by using mobile phone locations to understand how Ugandans move around. Tracking population movements and aggregation trends can help disease experts predict when and where outbreaks are most likely to occur, as well as how the outbreak may spread around the country. This dramatically increases response time and allows for better overall preparedness.

Umati, monitoring online platforms to track the presence of hate speech

Following the 2007/08 post-election violence in Kenya, some wondered about the role of social media and online communications in catalyzing the violent outburst. The Umati project, started by iHub, an organization dedicated to advancing technological innovation in Africa, seeks to better understand the use of hate speech online. The goal of the project is to understand how hate speech is used online and to develop ways to detect when such vernacular indicates potential violence.

Kudu, using mobile phones to make agricultural markets more effective

The idea behind Kudu was to make agricultural markets more effective by helping farmers find the best buyers and thus the best prices for their goods. Kudu establishes a double auction, where sellers and buyers are connected by a third party, which both can communicate with as simple as sending a text. Buyers and sellers are then matched and the markets are kept stable.

Punya, “Transform a sea of goodwill into actions by linking knowledge, data, and mobility”

Punya cloud architecture aggregates data and mobile applications from numerous humanitarian organizations. The Punya project works to integrate individual applications with as much of the available relevant information as possible. This integration streamlines humanitarian efforts, connecting aid organizers, volunteers and researchers, all in one data cloud. During disaster relief efforts, or when combating disease outbreaks like the ebola epidemic, this streamlining can be a critical edge.

– Gina Lehner

Sources: Punya, Umati, Kudu, Pulse Lab Kampala
Photo: Wikimedia

Botswana Unveils Electricity Payment App
Access to reliable electricity is necessary for life in the modern world, and countless studies have shown that increased availability of electricity leads to economic increases, longer life expectancies, and in general, a higher quality of life. While many developing countries are increasing their electrical infrastructures, millions across the world are still energy deficient.

Even with access to electrical grids, many do not have the funds to pay for power or are in such remote locations that payment becomes a burden. The African nation of Botswana faces these issues but has recently rolled out a solution.

A payment company called Botswana Post has just launched an electricity app for Android users that allows them to buy prepaid amounts of electricity for low costs and to pay existing balances. Eighty percent of mobile customers in Botswana use the Android mobile operating system.

The electricity app also allows for direct user contact with the Botswana Power Corporation for the purpose of repairs and electrical installment. Botswana Post also provides similar services for many of the major banks across the country, Western Union, Botswana Telecommunications, and hopes to add gas and broadband payment services soon.

The app is yet another marker of Africa’s rapid modernization and potential for progress. It comes at a time when energy is not only becoming more and more available, but is now easier to maintain, and cheaper to acquire.

The simplicity of obtaining and keeping electricity that the app presents will surely have a positive impact across the country and should correlate to greater economic output and incomes for citizens who had, in the past, been quite literally in the dark.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Botswana Post, Footprint to Africa
Photo: Google Images

Africa Mobile Technology Essential Development
The number of wireless devices in the U.S. outnumbers the population. With a population of 315 million in 2011, there were approximately 328 million mobile devices in the U.S. Americans enjoy mobile devices, as do an increasing number of the African population. Paul Kagame, current president of Rwanda, captured the growth of mobile devices in Africa by stating, “In 10 short years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone, has become a basic necessity in Africa.”

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Nigeria: A decade ago, landlines dominated in Nigeria, with about 100,000 phone lines. Today, Nigeria has close to 100 million mobile phone lines and the landline company is no longer in operation.
  • Kenya: In the last decade, mobile phone subscribers have increased 500-fold. Additionally, in 2009, mobile phone sales increased by more than 200 percent when the 16 percent general sales tax was removed. The sales continue to rise.
  • Rwanda: In 2010, mobile phone users grew by 50 percent. Doubled in one year!
  • South Africa: 72 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 24 have cell phones.
  • Africa as a whole: 650 million Africans, particularly the youth, use mobile phones for both social and functional purposes. This by far surpasses the number in the U.S. and Europe.

Although mobile phones across Africa generally consist of low-end Nokia phones used for the Short Messaging Service (SMS), smartphones with Internet capability are on the rise throughout the continent. In some African countries, mobile phones are more common than clean water, bank accounts and electricity, according to the World Bank and African Development Bank.

Why has there been an explosion in mobile phones? The main cause is the increasing reliance on mobile phones by youth. The youth, ages 15 to 24, depend on their mobile device not only for communication, but also for listening to the radio, transferring money, shopping, using social media and more. With some Africans only making $2 a day, many will occasionally skip their meals in order to pay the $5 and $8 monthly cell phone expenses.

Mobile devices are also used as a way of combating many social issues in Africa:

  • Activism: Mobile devices have offered communication, transparency, organization, openness, and empowerment to the electoral process.
  • Education: As mobile devices are more common and more affordable than PC’s, they are used as tools to deliver teaching content. As more than half of the parents in Africa are illiterate, there is hope that these teaching tools will have a positive impact on the education status of African children. In South Africa, MoMath, a mathematical teaching tool, has been launched.
  • Disaster management: With constant wars and genocide occurring throughout Africa, displaced persons are commonplace. Through mobile devices, displaced persons are able to reconnect with their families.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture is one of the largest employers throughout Africa. Through mobile phones, farmers are now able to make better decisions, resulting in more profit. Farmers use mobile phones to research weather information, market prices, and micro-insurance schemes.
  • Health: According to the World Health Organization, nearly 30 percent of drugs supplied in developing countries are fake. Through SMS, buyers can send the code found within a scratch card on the medicine packaging to find out if the drug is fake or not. This is a life saving resource, as in Nigeria, nearly 100 babies died due to ingesting a solvent usually found in antifreeze through their teething medication.

By 2016, there will be an estimated billion mobile phones on the continent of Africa. This has a huge impact for potential investors. In Kenya alone, the use of mobile devices has had a big economic impact. The mobile device industry contributed about $3.6 billion to the country’s GDP and has provided numerous employment opportunities.

– Caressa Kruth

Sources: CNN, The African Report, Washington Post
Photo: Evidence4Action