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Digital Green Empowers Poor Farmers
World hunger is one of the biggest challenges to overcome in the journey to eradicate poverty. It is impossible for communities to advance into other sectors without access to food. Roughly 690 million people do not have adequate access to food today. However, if information can be readily available and accessible for rural farmers, they could help reduce this number. Digital Green is a company that began in 2006 and aims to reduce world hunger.

What is Digital Green?

Digital Green is an Indian-based company that aids smallholder farmers in implementing better farming practices. It uses a unique software that more conventional organizations do not utilize. However, company co-founder Rikin Gandhi did not always see himself in Digital Green. He graduated from college with knowledge in science and engineering in hopes of becoming an astronaut. Moreover, the way astronauts melded intelligence and courage inspired him.

Gandhi said that he ended up focusing on another group of people who meld intelligence and courage after experiencing rejection from astronaut programs. He focused on the smallholder farmer. Immediately, he knew he wanted to approach things differently. Thus, he teamed up with Microsoft to create Digital Green.

Community Videos

Gandhi believed that the best way for smallholder farmers to improve their practices was by learning tricks from other farmers in the area. However, there was a problem. Many smallholder farmers in India live far apart. As a result, he created a database called community videos. This database is a collection of videos from several farming communities to share their wealth and knowledge.

Community videos are different from YouTube because they specifically target smallholder farmers. Farmers can easily select their desired language and region, and ensure that they are watching content that someone they can identify with produced.

Digital Green has produced more than 6,000 videos relating to farming practices to date. Additionally, the company oversees every video’s production from start to finish, ensuring that the sequence makes sense and that communities find the information relevant. Certain crop yields have soared by as much as 74% after farmers began using community videos.

FarmStack

Digital Green also implemented FarmStack to empower farmers. FarmStack is a platform designed to connect government and non-governmental organizations to smallholder farmers. It allows both groups to upload and download relevant data such as soil conditions and food prices at local markets.

The platform allows for immediate communication and makes sure that farmers receive customized solutions for unusual predicaments. In addition, it ensures that farmers receive relevant data that will help them better manage productivity as well as finances. As a result of the program, farmers’ income has increased and crop failure has decreased.

What is Next for Digital Green?

Digital Green is currently working on projects primarily in India and Ethiopia. COVID-19 has posed new challenges for the organization, but it shows no signs of slowing down. Furthermore, Digital Green hopes to one day reach every smallholder farmer in need. Luckily, the organization has partnered with powerful organizations around the globe to accelerate the process. Some organizations currently partnered with Digital Green include Walmart, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UKAid and Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD).

Although smallholder farmers only support a small aspect of their community, Digital Green acknowledges that they hold the key to ending world hunger. If all of these small communities connected, knowledge would spread like a wildfire. Eventually, every smallholder farmer across the globe may see an uptick of even 5% in crop yield. This impact would be tremendous.

– Jake Hill
Photo: Flickr

Technological Innovation in Sierra Leone
After a civil war in the 1990s and early 2000s and an Ebola outbreak in 2014, Sierra Leone is slowly recovering by investing in its future through technological innovation. The President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, stated that “Science and technology is the bedrock for the development of any modern economy.” With its labor force consisting of more than 60 percent of subsistence farming and its GDP being agriculture-based, the West African country has its sights on technology to help diversify its economy. UNICEF, Sierra Leone’s Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) and businesses are working together to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans.

UNICEF and DSTI

President Bio created the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) in 2018 to further his vision of developing a technology sector in the country. Dr. David Sengeh is the first Chief Innovation Officer of DSTI. UNICEF and DSTI have partnered to support the use of digital data. One result of the partnership is the Free Quality School Education Initiative. The initiative uses data science to help grant free education to every child and give fast feedback on test scores and the quality of education. MagicBox is an open-source data-sharing platform that UNICEF is investing in which includes partners such as Google and IBM. People can use MagicBox to map epidemics in order to reduce the spread of disease and it has helped Sierra Leone since 2014. Its first use was during the 2014 Ebola Crisis in West Africa. It can also collect private and public data on education and poverty.

Drone Medicine Transportation

UNICEF and the DSTI are also testing drones that could deliver medicine and vaccines. Drones could also send pictures and digital data of natural disasters to mitigate hazards to the public. Sierra Leone is the fourth country that UNICEF drone-tested. Aerial imaging, used for mapping infrastructure, transportation and agriculture, helps elevate the country’s development. Since it is one of the least developed countries in the world, drone data pertaining to infrastructure is a good first step in development. For example, only 10 percent of the roads are paved, making transportation slow and difficult. During the rainy seasons, rural floods cut off communities for up to six months. Drones could reach the communities, especially those with HIV and AIDS.

GEN-350

The GEN-350 is a new technological innovation in Sierra Leone that produces drinking water out of the air. Watergen created the generator called GEN-350 in its mission to provide affordable water to countries that lack clean drinking water. The generator simply needs electricity to operate. The GEN-350 can produce up to 900 liters of water a day. About 50 percent of the population lacks clean drinking water, so the generator reduces the possibility of waterborne disease. Waterborne diseases are one of the main causes of death in the country. Water sources for Sierra Leoneans include ponds, puddles and wells that chemicals from mining and agriculture have contaminated. Watergen’s GEN-350 is a long-term solution to clean and affordable water for those in poverty in Sierra Leone and the world.

Technological Innovation Ongoing

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $773,000 grant to DSTI’s GIS Portal in 2019 expresses increased interest in Dr. Sengeh’s goal to provide “real-time information for timely access and receipt of services, and optimize service delivery specifically in the provision of maternal healthcare services.” Although technological innovation in Sierra Leone is in its infancy, the government shows initiative with the creation of the DSTI.

A civil war between 1991 and 2002 tarnished its economy, but the country is seeing development as companies such as Watergen and organizations such as UNICEF provide solutions to alleviating the effects of poverty, such as poor education and polluted water.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

GaviThe Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi) is a global organization whose goal is to create equal access to vaccines for children living in the word’s poorest countries. Gavi’s new country portal makes it easier for countries to apply for, report on, renew support and keep track of collaboration to make vaccines work and protect people’s health.

Documents are accessible for updates at any time, proving convenient for managing and viewing the latest information with partners.

Gavi’s New Country Portal

Before the creation of Gavi’s new country portal, processing important information between certain health ministries, representatives and vaccine manufacturers could take up to 13 months. “With the Country Portal, we expect to improve this time by 25 percent by 2017. This means we can get life-saving vaccines to children faster,” explains David Nix, Gavi’s Chief Knowledge Officer.

Equally helpful, the portal is user-friendly with guidelines in English, French, Spanish and Russian, the main languages of Gavi-supported countries, making the application process for vaccines much more efficient.

There is great value in vaccination; regular vaccines protect people’s overall health, as well as their incomes and savings. Healthier communities play a large role in promoting economic growth, saving up to $6 billion on health treatment costs.

Children and Vaccination

Children who avoid getting sick do better in school because they are able to attend, understand concepts and perform well on assessments, all of which contribute to better employment in the future. It goes without saying that more often than not, preventing diseases is a lot easier than treating them and spares individuals any additional struggles.

In the past, the cost of vaccines and immunizations has been a hindrance to millions of children living in poorer countries. New life-saving vaccines failed to reach children in developing countries where they were needed the most.

In January 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $750 million five-year pledge funded Gavi as a new approach to the global problem. Gavi’s public-private partnership brings together UN agencies and governments to improve childhood immunization coverage and make vaccines more affordable globally.

An Organization Making Change

Gavi has already produced remarkable results. By 2015, the development model served 500 million additional children since its creation and prevented more than seven million deaths. Between 2016 and 2020, Gavi sets to extend care to an additional 300 million children.

Gavi’s new country portal and humanitarian approach have yielded effective methods for improving global health and providing assistance to the world’s poor. The hope is that as the number of vaccinated children increases, the rate of disease will significantly decline.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

FC Barcelona, Global Citizen, Gates Foundation Unite to Combat Poverty
Although athletics are intended to be competitive, they have a unique way of bringing people together; a shared love for that game or passion for a team unites people across the globe. The most universally uniting sport, however, must be soccer.

Almost every kid ever participated in peewee soccer – remember the oranges at halftime? The game is played all over the world, professionally, collegiately and friendly. The international phenomenon is a simple concept (kick ball, score goal), perhaps one of the main reasons for its timeless universal success.

Soccer is global, and as one of the greatest teams in professional soccer, F.C. Barcelona is globally recognized for its international fan base and crazy-talented players, like Lionel Messi. Barcelona, however, is not solely praised for its talent on the field. The team is also receiving well-deserved credit for its efforts to end global poverty.

The F.C. Barcelona Foundation was founded in 1994 and gives Barcelona the opportunity to give back globally. All projects developed by the organization are centered on sports and promote quality education and positive values. The efforts of the organization benefit children and adolescents of Catalonia and the world.

The recently announced partnership between the F.C. Barcelona Foundation, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will empower people to take action to end extreme global poverty.

These three major powerhouses will surely make a profound difference in many lives and raise awareness about the realities of poverty. The partnership will work in alignment with the United Nations Development Goals to eradicate poverty by 2030.

Sports have the unique ability to unite people from all walks of life. Mix that with advocacy and activism – a real game-changer. Together, Barcelona, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation unite to change the world and encourage others to play hard against poverty.

Barcelona just scored a stellar goal.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Global Citizen, FC Barcelona
Photo: FCFoundation

anti-poverty
The Islamic Development Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have teamed up to launch a new $2.5 billion sharia-compliant fund targeting extreme poverty in the Middle East. By partnering with the world’s richest charitable institution, the IDB hopes to successfully combat poverty in the Islamic world.

Although the Middle East is home to some of the richest countries worldwide, it also includes some of the world’s poorest, such as Burkina Faso and Chad. Additionally, some countries show a combination of extreme wealth and poverty, such as Egypt and Indonesia. Others are known simply for their extreme violence, like Yemen and Syria.

Without the assistance of a strong partner, regions like these would normally have a much harder time bringing in grants and skills into their territories. Key players hope that the various connections established through the partnership will prove to be even more effective than the partnership itself.

Hassan Al Damluji, head of Middle East Relations at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recently discussed the Lives and Livelihoods Fund in an interview, stating, “We are engaging Gulf donors who will be around and are sustainable, unlike the Foundation, which is a family fortune and is thus finite.”

Al Damluji went on to explain that one of the key features of the fund is its encouragement of investment from the poor countries themselves. Another essential working part of the fund is that it gives aid linked to the loans taken by recipient countries, so these countries are held accountable for their own development.

The plan is for the fund to finance projects in four different areas: agriculture and food security, primary health care, infectious disease control and eradication, and basic infrastructure. Al Damluji explained that all of these areas represent major drivers of inequality across the globe.

The overarching goal is to maximize the beneficiaries of this partnership, regardless of race, country or religion. With the additional long-term goal of sustainability in mind, the fund will be strategically housed in and administered by the IDB.

So far, the IDB has provided $2 billion, and a remaining $500 million will come from donors over the next five years in the form of grants. Both partners will work together to determine which projects deserve priority. The partners will meet twice annually in order to ensure cooperation and coordination.

The reasoning behind the choice of the four main project areas is that over time, effects like improved health and increased farmer productivity will work to boost economies. The key to understanding the way the new fund will work is to operate from a big picture perspective and to take into account its long-term consequences.

This will be the first major fund of its kind to actually be based in the Middle East. Al Damluji boasted that the fund will also have a bank of shareholders that are not OECD countries and not traditional donors.

Both the IDB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation understand the necessity of a well-functioning partnership in order to accomplish real change in the Middle East. The new partnership is more important than the fund itself and cooperation is absolutely necessary.

Additionally, both partners understand that two minds are better than one—especially when dealing with such a deeply rooted, complex problem. Together, the IDB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have raised the bar in the global anti-poverty fight.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: Nonprofit Quarterly, Gulf News
Photo: Time USA Newsweek

PAHEF
The Pan-American Health and Education Foundation, better known as PAHEF, was created in 1968 by the larger Pan-American Health Organization in order to focus on specific health-related projects in the region. The project aims to achieve the Millennium Development Goals set out by the UN by supporting education and research on the state of healthcare in Latin American countries. Though a separate organization, PAHEF shares the same ultimate goal as PAHO, which is the provision of adequate healthcare for the region.

To date, PAHEF has invested over 60 million dollars in projects in many countries including Argentina, Chile, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia, and Brazil. Their projects range from educating women and children on healthy lifestyles, to donating medication to treat River Blindness, to providing assistance in structural reform for the reduction of violence in cities.

The organization partners with both private organizations and governments throughout the region as well as research institutions abroad, like Johns Hopkins University and the Gates Foundation, to carry out their work. While PAHEF does not focus on creating projects itself, it offers its services and fundraising capacity to others to help achieve sustainable goals within the region. This falls in line with the now-prevalent philosophy that it is far better to facilitate countries in developing their own sustainable solutions  than direct short term external intervention.

– Farahnaz Mohammed
Source: PAHEF, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, SciDev.net