5 Innovative Ways to Adapt to Climate Change
1. Share Valuable Farming Tips

Farmers in Ghana can recall a time when farming was easier. “When I first started farming I didn’t have to put in so much effort to add nutrients to the land, and the yield was still very good. Now I have to put in extra soil nutrients,” said local farmer Clement Naazuin. Decades of intensified heat and wind, less rainfall, and unpredictable weather has taken its toll on the soil. Farmers in Ghana are taking advantage of an important resource, the Farmer Field School, which is organized by the government and multiple NGOs. Members of the community, like Clement, teach other farmers innovative farming techniques to help them adapt to climate change. Farmers, like Clement, are benefitting from the proposed solutions like composting, which cost nothing to implement. Farmers have broken with the tradition of planting on flat surfaces, which allows rain to wash away essential nutrients in the topsoil, and are now planting on ridges instead. Farmers in the Lawra District of Ghana are enjoying higher yields thanks to what they call “soil power.”

2. Listen to Regional Communities

Northern Kenya is trying something new, listening to the community when it comes to making decisions about solutions to climate change. Kenya is home to two different kinds of agriculturalists with very different ways of life, crop farmers and nomadic pastoralists. The government, when making changes to cope with climate change, was not able to address the needs of both. The new constitution, published in 2010, granted more decision making power to local governments. The Climate Adaptation Fund will be implemented this year, and each region gets to decide how to use their funds for projects that will help them adapt to climate change. Regional communities know best when it comes to their needs and workable solutions. One community opted to use its funding to start a local radio station. Everyone has access to a radio, even if they do not own one, which will keep farmers ahead of the game with local weather forecasts.

3. Take Advantage of Social Media

Global farmers who are tech-savvy and have access to a mobile phone can get up to date news about the changing climate. Kenyan farmer Julius Cheruiyot uses his phone to access the Young Volunteers for the Environment site for updates about the weather in his region, which has been more extreme and unpredictable in recent years. Knowing how much rainfall can be expected and when can make the difference between good yields and failed harvests. YVE also provides farmers with specialized tips, like suggesting which crops to plant in anticipation of changing weather patterns.

4. Long Term Planning from Policy Makers

Policymakers need to adapt their strategies as well in order to cope with a more unpredictable environment. After a devastating flood swept through the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, leaving 6,000 dead and destroying crucial infrastructure, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna vowed to “do development differently.” Environmentalists have criticized the Chief Minister, saying the disaster was exacerbated by the tunnels that were blasted through the Himalayas to divert water for the construction of hydro-electric dams, at the risk of landslides. Chief Minister Bahuguna realized the need to think more sustainably, and has established the “Uttarakhand Relief and Reconstruction Authority,” which will involve scientists, geologists, and environmentalists in the development of construction projects in the future.

5. Be Prepared for Disasters

Let’s face it, with the reality of climate change already rearing its ugly head, at-risk regions need to be prepared for the inevitable disasters on the horizon. Early warning systems and shelters are crucial, but people also need to be informed about what to do in case of an emergency. Localities also need to be prepared for the aftermath, ensuring that people will have access to safe drinkable water. Being prepared also means smarter development. “Our exposure to extreme events is growing and this trend needs to be addressed through better land use and more resilient infrastructure as we seek to cope with population growth and rapid urbanization,” according to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström.

– Jennifer Bills
Sources: UN News, BRAC Blog

A Bacteria Makes Mosquitoes Resistant to Malaria
More than two years ago, social media helped Egyptian activists organize massive street protests that lead to the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s reign. With billions of people logging onto Facebook, Twitter and Youtube everyday, it is no wonder that social media has become a celebrated and useful fixture in the voice of the people. However, as quickly as revolutions are sparked, third-party antagonists and governments are sure to falsify what is posted on these sites in an attempt to silence people of opposition. In Egypt, sites that seemed beneficial at the start of the revolution have transformed into venues used to spark violence, hate and oppression revealing the dark side of social media used in social revolutions.

During the Tahrir Square uprising in early 2011, networking websites, like Twitter and Facebook, allowed anti-regime activists to organize mass rallies while providing platforms to articulate political demands. Today, those sites allow a rampant slew of messages focused on provoking anger, hatred and in some cases unsubstantiated rumor. Since the revolution, provocative photos or videos appeared on social media venues which, after eliciting angry reactions, were later proved entirely false or highly exaggerated.

The anonymity of the cyber world is partly to blame for the abuse of social media worldwide and begs the question of validity regarding how effective social media is when used in a full blown revolution. A prominent Egyptian political analyst, Ammar Ali Hassan, notes that one of the main downsides of online social media is the ability of anonymous parties to create fake websites or social media accounts and to issue statements on behalf of political figures or groups that are in fact false. Another explanation of the unbridled use of social media comes from Adel Abdel-Saddiq, social media expert at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. Abdel-Saddiq believes that a significant problem is the lack of legal oversight of social media platforms in Egypt, where “laws against libel and slander only apply to traditional media – i.e., television, radio and newspapers – but not to the Internet.”

– Kira Maixner

Photo: Policy Mic

Social media has changed the landscape of fighting poverty, creating policy, and changing the world. While there are some negatives to the spread of social media, the United Nations has turned the power of social media into a tool to create the next global development agenda.  In a bold step, the United Nations is reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people around the world to use their voice to shape the next decade of anti-poverty goals.

The United Nations started the process by holding simultaneous conferences in around 100 countries and then added digital media and mobile phone technology to include as many more people as they could in the development of the global development goals. These goals will build on the millennium development goals and set up a new generation of goals ready to fight global poverty.

The web platform, World We Want 2015, allows people to log on and collaboratively create policy ideas and vote on development priorities. Check out the website and cast a vote here.  The website is working to create user-driven communities able to provide solutions to critical global challenges. With more mobile phones than toilets in the world, short message service (SMS) and interactive voice response (IVR) are being used to engage with the public.  It’s working too. In Uganda, the United Nations was able to capture the views of more than 17,000 young people in a survey about their development priorities.

To increase participation, the United Nations is holding workshops in areas like the Amazon where access to the Internet and mobile phone technology is very limited.  Almost half a million people have participated in the global conversation and three key issues have risen to the top of the priority list. Those are:

1. Accelerate the progress to achieve the MDGs by the end of 2015

2. Address sustainability, governance, and security from violence and jobs in future goals

3. Include more opportunities for people to participate in agenda-setting and progress monitoring

All the information gathered from the global conversation is being used to shape the future development agenda to be put in place in 2015.  This is an exciting development in global policy-making. People have the ability to voice their concerns and ideas to negotiators and decision makers directly. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your voice heard.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: The Guardian

World Hunger Day is May 28th, and to raise awareness, Africare, a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people in Africa, is advocating the #Fast4Hunger One Day Challenge. It encourages people to fast for a few hours or a whole day to get a better sense of how hungry and starving people in Africa live every day.

The challenge takes place through social media, where participants can use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share their experiences while fasting with the hashtags #Fast4Hunger or #Fast4HungerChallenge. Those who want to take the #Fast4Hunger pledge can visit Africare’s website and download the #Fast4Hunger Challenge Toolkit to get everything they need to raise awareness about world hunger on World Hunger Day. Africare will also be hosting a Twitter chat between donors, partners, and the general public on May 28th from noon to 3pm to further advocate and raise awareness about people who need help, especially those in developing countries in Africa.

Kendra Davenport, Africare’s Chief Development and Communications Officer, explains that the hunger experienced by hundreds of millions around the world is a problem that most of the global population remains largely disconnected from. “#Fast4Hunger is an opportunity for people to begin understanding the severity of global hunger, viscerally and intellectually, and to learn how they can become part of its solution,” said Davenport.

Katie Brockman
Source: Wall Street Journal
Photo: Africare

Instagram to Fight World HungerOne of the most common types of pictures posted on Instagram is food.  We love to share what we cook, what we eat, and what we enjoy. One charity has decided to capitalize on the idea of sharing pictures of your food.  Food Share Filter, a new app, is the first supportive Instagram filter. The idea is to use Instagram to fight world hunger. The app was created by DDB Spain and all money raised goes to support a Salvadoran charity called Manos Unidas.

Manos Unidas is a non-profit organization working with the Association of the Catholic Church in Spain. The charity works to promote development in the third world. They focus on working to eradicate the structural causes of hunger, disease, and underdevelopment such as injustice, prejudice, and inequality.  Geographically, Manos Unidas works in Africa, Asia, American, and Oceania to assist in development causes there.

The filter can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play store. Once downloaded, anytime a user post a picture of food, they can add the filter #FoodShareFilter.  This immediately adds the message, “This picture helps millions of people not to suffer hunger.”  It is an easy way to raise awareness in posting photos that would normally be posted.

The #FoodShareFilter is available in both English and Spanish and costs$0.99 in the Apple Store and $1.16 in Google Play.  The app was launched late last week and all proceeds from the purchase of the app go directly to the charity.  Check it out and download the app to start raising awareness on world hunger!

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: WkBW Eyewitness News
Photo: Goodnet

Fight World Hunger With Your Smartphone
Listen up smartphone users! It’s never been easier to fight world hunger.

Taking food shots with your smartphone and sharing them on Instagram or Twitter has become a huge craze. This new app, the first supportive Instagram filter, lets you post those photos and help a good cause to fight world hunger.

The aim for FoodShareFilter, an app created by DDB Spain, is to raise money for an El Salvadoran charity called Manos Unidas. The charity promotes development and preventing hunger in third-world countries.

All you have to do is download the filter from the Apple Store or Google Play, take the picture, and post it using #FoodShareFilter. The income from each app download is donated to the charity.

In addition, every time a user takes a photo of their food and applies #FoodShareFilter, it immediately adds the message “This picture helps millions of people not to suffer hunger,” and shares it on your Instagram page. That way, you raise awareness while posting photos.

Although FoodShareFilter is in Spanish, an English version is also available.

FoodShareFilter was launched late last week. It is available in the Apple Store for $0.99 and in Google Play for $1.16.

Katie Brockman

Source WKBW
Photo FoodShareFilter

3 Ways That Slacktivism Promotes Social Change
The cynicism implied in the word slacktivism, which describes a lazy form of activism requiring little commitment of the participant and having almost no effect on policy and social issues, has been pushed to the forefront of public discourse lately. A recent phenomenon, this social-media led, tech-savy means of expressing one’s support for causes such as gay rights or ending modern slavery has been felt through the relatively safe confines of Facebook, Twitter, and university assembly quads. But does the slacktivist form of activism work better than the more traditional methods involving protests, writing congressional leaders, and fundraising? Yes and no, as the following describes three ways that slacktivism promotes social change.

1. It raises awareness – One of the more obvious ways that slacktivism promotes social change is through its exposure to social issues to huge audiences that were once limited by geographic location and means of communication. For those Facebook and Twitter users that have vast amounts of friends and followers, the switching of one’s profile picture to a red equal sign, for example, will no doubt generate questions by others who are curious as to why so many of their friends are changing their profiles on a given day. Through the vehicle of social media, a single individual is able to reach huge numbers of people with simply the click of a mouse and can raise awareness of a social issue almost instantaneously.

2. It allows everyone to participate – Unlike the traditional forms of activism that require a certain amount of interpersonal skills and economic commitments, slacktivism promotes social change by allowing everyone to participate in the movement. The current economic situation non-withstanding; most university students eager to participate have – at best – meager financial resources available to help fund an organization. By limiting the barriers of entry and participation in causes committed to social change, everyone who simply marks their hand with a red x feels that they are helping to fight slavery worldwide.

3. It leads to high-risk activism – Street protests, donor fundraising, and political volunteerism referred to as “high-risk” forms of activism are still instrumental tools of effecting social change. However, for those individuals who have had little to no experience in the traditional forms of activism, slacktivism helps people take the first steps towards larger civic engagement and global awareness. Individuals changing their profile picture on Facebook today may be serving as a board member for multi-national non-profits tomorrow, as slacktivism promotes social change in its ability to allow everyone to get their feet wet as a social media activist. And by combining the huge influence of social media along with good old fashioned congressional letter writing and fundraising, The Borgen Project has positioned itself to utilize the best of both worlds.

Brian Turner

Source: CNN
Photo: Trendhunter

Mealmatch: Social Media Fighting World HungerSocial media is a powerful tool and two young entrepreneurs have harnessed its power to fight world hunger. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, around 925 million go hungry each day. In light of that number, Dustin Tessendorf and Joseph Tuson from Arizona developed the social media app Mealmatch.

Mealmatch is using social media to fight world hunger in a very, easy way. The app is downloaded to users’ phones and when they eat or drink at participating restaurants, they can check-in and the restaurant donates $.30 per meal to a charity. While $.30 may not seem like a lot,  it is the average cost of a meal in Africa and it can make a big difference if enough users download the app. Currently, the money from donated meals goes to over a dozen charities in Africa and two in  Chandler, Arizona. All the information about the charities is easily found on the Mealmatch website.

The benefits to restaurants are few other than positive advertising which can go a very long way. Despite this, about 40 restaurants have signed up to participate in the program. When a restaurant participates in a charitable cause, it gains them continued support and recognition. As the founders put it, “Business can no longer get away with exploiting the world for money.”

While Mealmatch is currently limited to Arizona, there is potential for growth across the United States.  Social media is powerful and two young entrepreneurs are proving that with a little creativity, it can be used to fight global hunger with the ease of checking in at a restaurant you are already visiting.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: Phoenix New Times

UC Berkeley & Global Poverty
The Global Poverty Project was founded by Ananya Roy, a professor of city and regional planning at Berkeley, Tara Graham, an International and Area Studies lecturer and digital media expert and Abby VanMuijen, an artist with the goal of spreading the curriculum of Berkeley University’s most popular minor, Global Poverty and Practice. The three UCal alumni are utilizing digital media and twitter to create a multilayered broadly accessible curriculum that they call critical thinking + improv art + new media. This creative curriculum is being used to spread knowledge about global poverty beyond the classroom.

A project is a new approach to traditional online education that is sweeping the world. While the traditional method of online education tends to simply stick a video recorder in a classroom, the Global Poverty Project seeks to create numerous forms of media and material for students to utilize as a whole or in parts. Eventually, there will be a textbook that utilizes matrix barcode technology that will link to other related information. Each video that is posted also links to useful sites and information. By generating discussions on Twitter, Roy’s classroom, already full with 600 pupils, has expanded, potentially exponentially, and has become a place where students, people on campus and anyone in the world can exchange ideas.

More than creating a groundbreaking approach to online education, Roy, Graham, and VaMuijen are looking to create new and interesting internet videos that spark discussion and critical thinking.“Most of them, I think, are really patronizing and oversimplify the very complex aspects of poverty action. They’re a call to action, but they don’t necessarily explore all the political and ethical issues that smart young people know are at stake,” said Roy about most internet videos that attempt to address poverty.

Each video starts with a question and offers a scholarly argument for a way of thinking about it. VanMuijen then takes video to a whole other level with visual note-taking and creates the videos. Like the minor itself, the videos are framed to encourage thinking about solutions to poverty that steer clear of what Roy sees as two extremes: “The hubris of benevolence, young Americans thinking ‘I’m going to solve poverty during my alternative spring break,’ and the paralysis of cynicism, which we have a lot of at Berkeley, really smart kids who know how to critique everything in the world but they’re not really sure what to do after that critique.” Later, the project, new media, curriculum, and critical thinking about global poverty come together. While Roy lectures, the Twitter feed is projected behind her in the classroom and the videos are being played and igniting discussion all over the world.

– Kira Maixner

Source: UC Berkeley News Center

In this day and age, nonprofit organizations are multiplying by the second. In a sea of social awareness, it can become hard to make your organization stand out and grab the audience’s attention. Whether you’re a member, a donor, or on the Board of Directors, here are 8 simple ways to use social media to bring about social change.

  • Gather Advocates: Look at your network. See where certain individuals or groups have their strengths. By identifying key donors and volunteers, you can take advantage of their skills and contacts. For example, if you recognize a member who has a strong presence on Twitter in their own right, approach them with specific requests to advocate for your group and help spread the word. Or if there is someone who writes well or is able to easily communicate your organization’s message, ask if they would be willing to blog or create a Twitter account and put their skills to use!

  • Let Ideas Sit and Develop: A lot of good ideas and suggestions will come not just from active members but one-time visitors to your social media pages. This requires letting ideas and conversations to sit and simmer. Even if a topic produces controversial comments, don’t jump the gun and remove it. Sometimes, controversy can be a good thing and lead to an unintended brainstorming session. Topics may be left untouched for a while as well but you never know when it will gain popularity randomly and create a big social media buzz.

  • Authenticate Your Voice: Many organizations these days have multiple social media accounts. Whether its Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc., its always important to keep your ‘voice’ consistent. By voice, it means the style of the content. Does your organization use highly intellectual vocabulary? Is it more relaxed and casual to appeal to a younger audience? Or maybe it simply posts news updates. Either way, make sure each site adheres to the same voice. This will clearly illustrate your intent and goals to anyone reading up on the organization no matter what medium they’re using.

  • Sustained Conversations: Many organizations host live chats as part of their outreach. What is important with these however is to keep it going! Choose a time and place to host it. Whether its once a month or once a week, make sure its all consistent. This way, once the event is known, people will know where they can always find it. Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) series is an amazing way to create an open dialogue and get some serious exposure to new and curious members.

  • Its a 2 Way Street: Certain groups will stick to easy advocacy meaning they simply put out information and leave it up to people to do what they please with it. If you really want to make moves and create social change, the actual social aspect has to be there! If someone tweets about your organization or you see an applicable hashtag, retweet! Show people and followers that you know they exist. On org websites, think about incorporating a chat room or allowing people to post comments. It is of course important to manage what is being said but social change won’t happen if everyone is just thinking silently in their own heads!

  • ID the Demographic: No, they don’t need to be 21, but find out where your supporters are! Where do most of the donors come from? Are they the same people who blog about your organization or talk about it on Twitter? Make sure you have a presence on any and all social media sites that you think will attract the best type of advocates for your cause

  • Don’t Dumb it Down: While sites such as Twitter may have character limits, don’t let that limit the conversation. People are finding more ways to get the message across and make something meaningful come out of it everyday. Legitimate advocacy and change can come in the form of photography or short videos, even through games.

  • Creativity: Check out Twitter’s new video app Vine. It allows users to share looping videos up to 6 seconds long. Think that doesn’t raise awareness? Think again! Leaving viewers on mini cliff hangers will keep the engaged and interested in what you have to say.

– Deena Dulgerian
Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation