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Dairy Farming in KenyaDairy farming is a competitive business worldwide. Small and large scale dairy farmers alike face similar obstacles—slim margins, a fragile product and a decreasing market. Kenya produces 5 billion liters of milk every year and the dairy industry accounts for 5%-8% of the country’s total GDP. This large proportion of GDP means that innovations in dairy farming offer significant potential to improve the livelihoods of thousands. In light of this economic fact, new industry actors are emerging to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

EASYMA 6.0

Finding reliable buyers is a difficult task. In many cases, Kenyan dairy farmers are forced to sell to local traders that pay unfair prices. When the digital scale and supply chain system EASYMA 6.0 was introduced in 2014, however, conditions for dairy producers improved. In collaboration with USAID-funded programs, Kenyan tech agencies developed and deployed EASYMA 6.0 into local communities.

The process of EASYMA 6.0 starts with farmers weighing their milk at designated buyer collection centers. Producers then get an automated receipt as well as an immediate advance. This system ensures that farmers receive fair compensation for the quantity of product they supply. Ultimately, this innovation makes it easier for farmers to earn a fair living wage.

In addition to providing security in payments, EASYMA 6.0 also enhances transparency and record-keeping within the dairy industry. As a result, more than 22,000 Kenyan dairy farmers now have access to farm extension services, financial products and even livestock insurance through EASYMA 6.0.

Mazzi Milk Jug

Although a seemingly small and simple issue, spoiling milk can lead to large losses for dairy farmers in Kenya. Spoiled milk can lead to huge losses, negating much of the hard work performed by farmers. Without viable ways to fix the issue, farmers will continue to lose a valuable part of their productand, thus, their incomesevery year.

In developing countries, safely delivering milk and dairy products is the hardest challenge farmers face. Small-scale farmers produce 80% of the milk in Kenya. Due to small-scale farmers’ insufficient access to quality storage and refrigeration, a significant amount of milk is spoiled during delivery. This struggle prompted the development of Mazzi, a durable and inexpensive jug that prevents spills and slows curdling.

Traditional jugs, or jerry cans, leave dairy products vulnerable to contaminants that cause spoilage. Additionally, traditional jugs are also fragile and very hard to clean. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation worked with Global Good and Heifer International to find one key solution to this issue: Mazzi.

Mazzi is a 10-liter reusable plastic container that prevents spills, limits contamination and is easy to clean. Mazzi has a wide mouth that allows farmers to use two hands during the milking process, ultimately increasing productivity. The invention also has a detachable black funnel that enables farmers to determine whether cows have udder infections, as well as a stackable lid that helps with transport and makes the product easy to clean.

The Mazzi jug will only cost $5, compared to competitors priced around $30. By increasing incomes through improved yields, this inexpensive innovation is transforming dairy farming in Kenya and improving the lives of farmers in the process.

MyFugo

Many farmers rely on the dairy industry to make a living, yet Kenya has not adopted technology to improve yield. MyFugo is a software application that is projected to increase milk production in Kenya by helping farmers monitor their cows in real-time. Allan Tollo, the app’s founder, explains that “the app helps the farmer monitor his cows throughout the day enabling them to tell what time their cow will be on heat for it to be served at the right time.”

The MyFugo technology operates by using a Smart Cow Collar. Farmers place the device on their cows and receive notifications on their smart devices of the exact time their cow is in heat. Farmers can increase milk production by reducing the calving period by more than six months. This innovation eliminates prevents farmers from missing cow fertility dates, decreases calving intervals and lowers feeding and treatment costs.

The app is free to use, but the collar costs $150. Although expensive upfront, animals will produce more calves in their lifetime leading to higher milk production, increased revenues and greater economic stability for dairy farmers in the long-term.

MyFugo has registered 8,000 farmers already and is constantly working to grow its user base. The app can track animals at any location, as well as identify their risk of disease. Farmers also gain easier access to veterinary doctors and loans. With many small farms traditionally lacking access to veterinary care and financial loans, this innovation offers the potential to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

Broad Impact

Many farmers are reluctant to embrace new technologies that challenge traditional farming techniques. However, these innovations are steadily transforming dairy farming in Kenya and creating unparalleled opportunities for farmers to earn a successful living. With new technology and easy access to records, dairy farming in Kenya is traveling a new road toward lasting progress. The successful integration of technology in Kenya’s dairy farming industry demonstrates the potential of future innovation in the agricultural industry at large.

Sienna Bahr
Photo: Flickr

poverty alleviation through technology

Although breaking the cycle of poverty is difficult, poverty rates around the world have been improving. According to a report issued by the World Bank, 35 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty 1990. In 2013, that number was down to 10.7 percent, which means the U.N.’s first Millenium Development Goal, to cut poverty in half by 2015, has been accomplished.

However, while many have moved out of extreme poverty, statistics show that the end of poverty is far from over. As a potential way to help speed up the process even more, many companies are helping with poverty alleviation through technology programs.

Companies Tackling Poverty Alleviation Through Technology

  1. Microsoft 365: Microsoft teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme on Jan. 23, 2004, to help with poverty alleviation through technology in Africa. It strongly believes that technology is a crucial aspect that can bridge the gap between schools in urban and rural areas, eventually eliminating world hunger and poverty. Co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates hopes to end poverty by 2030 by launching his software in more developing countries around the world.Microsoft set up a three-pillar model in order to make sure the technology was applied correctly in schools. The first pillar provided the appropriate service for the individual based on their technological ability or age group. The second pillar equipped more than 200,000 teachers with the software in order to make sure the teachers were trained and familiar with the technology before it was introduced to students. The third pillar encouraged participation and creativity. The students were introduced to programs such as Skype or OneNote.
  2. GeoPoll: GeoPoll is a company that is taking advantage of mobile phones becoming more common in developing countries. Since 2012, it has partnered with more than 85 mobile network operations and has had connectivity in 64 countries of the world. Its purpose is to send a survey text through those living in the developing countries. Once citizens fill out the survey, the results are sent to the government and NGOs, allowing them to help with poverty alleviation.An example of when a GeoPoll survey was used was during the outbreak of Ebola in 2014. GeoPoll conducted food security surveys in countries that were affected and helped gather data on food prices and wages. From these results, it was able to decipher which areas needed more aid and which areas should continue to be monitored.
  3. Humanitarian Accelerators: Humanitarian Accelerators was launched in 2016 by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It is meant to help with cultural, social and environmental issues in the region by connecting businesses all around the globe to United Arab Emirate’s humanitarian sector. Humanitarian Accelerators has set up its technology in over 116 different countries with the hopes of improving the lives of those in developing countries.In the past, the company has worked to provide educational technology to refugee students in order to ensure they receive the same level of education as other children. One of the company’s current initiatives is to employ technology in order to provide job opportunities to refugees.
  4. Poverty Spotlight: Poverty Spotlight is a program that is currently working in 18 countries and is most advanced in South Africa. It is meant to help with poverty alleviation through a mobile app that enables those in poverty to self-diagnose their own level of poverty. Its mission is to help individuals and families in poverty discover innovative solutions to lift themselves out of their situations.Individuals complete a survey about what they are in need of, then their neighbors fill out the same assessment and together they work on achieving them. The app allows individuals to become aware of their situation and build motivation and support from others to overcome it. The staff behind Poverty Spotlight also creates a personalized plan for every family.

Technology allows for many things today that were impossible in the past. The more technology advances, the more opportunities it gives us to learn, educate and help poverty alleviation through technology around the world.

– Negin Nia

Technological Solutions to Poverty
Technology is everywhere. Electronic dispensers squirt a predetermined amount of soap on our hands. Cell phones connect us to people across the world. Dishwashers wash our plates, planes transport us across the globe and video games entertain us. But technology has more uses than just entertainment or convenience. Modern technology can radically change the lives of the world’s poor by empowering and equipping them. Modern technology is one of the most effective solutions to poverty.

 

Innovative Aid: 10 Technological Solutions to Poverty

 

1. Mobile banking

Mobile banking offers the poor access to banking without transaction costs and without the need for a traditional, physical bank. A Brookings Institute Policy brief reported that access to banking helps the poor protect their assets and invest wisely. It allows them to save money without fear of theft.

Brookings reported that, “One study from the Philippines found that access to formal savings increased women’s economic empowerment by raising their influence over household consumption choices, children’s education and use of family planning.”

Furthermore, mobile banking makes direct cash transfer programs for aid organizations easier and more efficient.

2. Mobile health care

Cell phones offer access to medical information otherwise inaccessible to impoverished people. A recent Ghanaian project, for instance, targets pregnant women who lack access to information on how to promote healthy fetal development, reports the Research Council of Norway. Mothers receive weekly, automated messages designed to help counterbalance superstition and pregnancy-related myths.

“All they need to receive these messages is an inexpensive mobile phone,” says Jacqueline Møller Larsen of the Grameen Foundation in Ghana. “The health information they receive in this way can make a real difference in the health of both mother and baby.”

3. Access to clean water

Globally, more than 748 million people do not have access to clean water and more than 2.5 billion people have inadequate access to sanitation. More than 1,400 children die every day of diarrhea caused by unsafe water and improper sanitation. WaterAid, an organization dedicated to providing access to safe water and sanitation, writes that access to safe water would not only slow such diseases, but would also return an average of $4 of increased productivity per dollar invested.

Such advances are not out of reach and modern technology can create achievable goals for water and sanitation. Practical Action, for example, partnered with Kenyans from the dry, arid Turkana region to develop a solution to the area’s drought problems.

“We developed a solar-powered water pump that uses locally-sourced equipment to pump 30,000 clean litres of clean, safe water to the village every day,” the organization reported.

4. Improve farming techniques

Most of the 1.4 billion people who live on less than $1.25 per day rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, according to the United Nations. Technological advances in agriculture, from better plowing techniques to rice adapted from saltier water, can reduce hunger for millions.

“If we could get and invent new seeds, new mobile technology and open new data centers to help farmers connect their crop prices and understand weather variability we can do something transformational against hunger,” USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah told TIME. “And not just reach a small percentage of the people that are hungry with food.”

5. Increase access to education

Many children, especially disadvantaged girls, in rural areas have limited access to education. And many of the schools that rural children can attend struggle with poor-quality teachers and limited resources. But new technology like solar-powered computers and projectors allow students to participate in real-time, interactive lessons with quality teachers. Ghana recently started its first interactive, distance learning project, Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed,) with the support of the British Department for International Development in Ghana, reported Ghana Web. This program uses new technology to provide access to education impossible before now.

6. Better waste management

The ever-increasing urbanization in many cities of developing countries, such as Nairobi, Kenya, has overburdened solid waste management facilities and created littering problems. From recycling plastics to managing human waste, technology has the potential to transform the life of the urban poor.

7. Empowering through information

By 2015, it’s possible that everyone in the world will have access to a cell phone. The United Nation reports that more people in the world have access to cellphones than justice or legal services. Currently, more than 5.4 billion people have mobile phone subscriptions. Since mobile phones require only basic literacy, phones offer almost everyone in the entire world access to information and the opportunity to make their voices heard.

8. Improved transportation

Especially for the poor living in villages miles away from large towns, trips to town for water and food can take hours. Often, in medical emergencies, they cannot make it to hospitals in time. Many villagers that have bicycles cannot use them to transport the ill. Practical Action works with villagers to build bicycle trailers to transport up to 200 kilograms of water, food or passengers.

“…Whether its bringing clean water, removing waste or sludge, the bicycle still has the power to transform poor communities,” wrote Matt Wenham of Practical action.

The simple creation of a bike trailer has the potential to save thousands of lives.

9. Disaster relief and management

Natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes affect the rural poor most, as they often have no idea anything is happening. Using mobile phones to alert them of impending disaster can give them enough time to flee to safety. Bangladesh, one of the most at risk countries in the world for natural disasters, has implemented a mobile alert system in an attempt to save lives.

“This new initiative will mean that people will get an alert on their phones warning them that they are likely to face flooding or a cyclone,” Syed Ashraf, communications specialist for the country’s Disaster Management Bureau, told Reuters. “So they will then be able to take action like evacuate their homes and seek shelter in assigned places.”

10. Sustainable energy

Access to energy enables people to work their way out of poverty, access education and improve their own health. New technologies, such as solar and hydro power, can provide access to energy without building expensive power plants. Even simple technological advances, like fire-less cookers that rely on stored heat, can save the poor money and time.

“Just providing a few hours of solar lighting alone improves the human condition,” Justin Guay, associate director of Sierra Club’s International Climate Program, told Take Part.

Further investment in technological solutions by both private donors and the federal government could radically change the lives of the global poor.

– Sally Nelson

Sources: Brookings, Ghana Web, Practical Action, Reuters, Take Part, Science Nordic, TIME, Water Aid, IFAD, United Nations Development Programme
Photo: Businessweek

Technology to Alleviate Poverty
Politicians everywhere are starting to learn the relation between technology and poverty. They are starting to realize that in the growing demand for new innovations in technology plays a part in the solution to poverty. Technology makes not only global communication and information access easier, it also creates infrastructure and development in developing nations, helps discover and get access to alternative resources, and along with all this, helps create many jobs and stimulates the economy.

 

In Practice: Technology Eradicating Poverty

 

Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera, sees the importance of technology and how it can alleviate poverty. The Chilean government has almost doubled their investment in technology. Pinera hopes this will help Chile rise out of poverty by the end of the decade. Various programs in Chile encourage innovation and development of technology. From organizations that give grants to entrepreneurs to organizations that support travel abroad (such as Silicon Valley in California) to see and learn how the hub of technology works, there is a lot of encouragement of creativity and innovation in Chile. Such dedication to eliminating poverty helps not just those living in poverty, but also the national economy, and the world with the possible technological innovations.

Organizations like Practical Action focus on helping those living in extreme poverty with the help of technology. Their concept of technology justice, that technology should be aimed at helping humanity rather than just focused on pleasing the consumers who can afford technology, is something that will greatly benefit those in need. By bringing those living in poverty access to technologies such as electricity, technology that ensures clean water, technology that improves agricultural yield, and preparation for natural disasters, Practical Action gives them opportunities that bring not only financial stability and good health, but also the opportunity to rise out of poverty.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: Bloomberg, Practical Action
Photo: Twisted Sifter