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Apps That Help Fight HungerHunger is a crisis facing many countries and communities around the world, with about 821 million people experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity. According to the United Nations, the biggest risk to worldwide health is hunger and malnutrition. Several programs already exist to help fight this issue such as food banks, food stamps, shelters and agencies like World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development. However, there is an up and coming way for anyone to be able to provide assistance—smartphone apps. These five apps that help fight hunger offer various ways to give help with little more than the tap of a finger.

Five Apps That Help Fight Hunger

  1. Share the Meal – The U.N. World Food Programme created Share the Meal. The WFP helps 80 million people with food assistance and is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting against hunger. Download the app, donate $0.50 or more and feed a child for the day. The WFP then receives the funds, provides the meal and will even show in the app where the meal will go.
  2. Feedie – Feedie is an app that partners with the Lunchbox Fund to provide a meal to underserved children around the world. Over 12 million meals have been given through the app as well as through donations. Download the app, find a participating restaurant, take and share a picture of the meal and the restaurant will make a donation that equals the cost of one meal.
  3. OLIO – OLIO is a food-sharing app based in the UK that allows people and local businesses to post food items nearing their best-by or sell-by date for other people to pick up. To date, over 1 million people have joined the app and 1.8 million portions of food have been shared. To post items, download the app, add a picture and description of the item, list when and where it can be picked up and wait for someone to claim it. To request items, scroll through the local listings, request what is needed and arrange to pick up through a private message.
  4. Chowberry Chowberry is an online app, similar to OLIO, based in Nigeria that allows consumers and organizations to find food products listed by retailers that are nearing their sell-by date. Chowberry works with orphanages and faith-based organizations, as well as everyday customers. Sign up for the website and scroll through several participating stores and listed items to find needed items.
  5. WeFarm WeFarm is a farmer-to-farmer digital network that allows farmers to connect to other farmers in various parts of the world, without the use of the internet. More than 1 million farmers have been helped using WeFarm and over 40 thousand questions and answers are sent in each day. Farmers can text their local WeFarm number a question they have, and other connected farmers can respond with their answers and suggestions.

Hunger is an ongoing issue that millions of people face every day. These five apps that help fight hunger offer several different solutions to both those in need and those that are able to help. From donating a few cents, to listing discounted products, to connecting farmers around the world and more, helping those dealing with hunger can be a quick and easy process requiring nothing more than a cellphone.

– Jessica Winarski
Photo: Flickr

What Is Famine
The only time many of us think of food is when we are hungry. Unfortunately, many countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, and Yemen are not afforded that opportunity due to many catastrophes that affect the growth of crops and other food sources. Thanks to the supergroup called United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa, circa 1985, famine became a global concern. Artists such as Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Quincy Jones contributed to the charitable, Billboard-charting single We Are the World. Fast forward to over 30 years later, the following question is still a valid one: what is famine?

What is Famine?

Famine is not just food shortage. Chris Hufstader from OXFAM America states that it’s also a widespread food scarcity where poverty leads to malnutrition and death. Food scarcity is determined under a set of criteria and ranking called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). The IPC is a tracking system that monitors the availability of food in various countries for governments to foresee and become proactive to avoid a food crisis. The IPC is set up into five phases:

  • Food security: a state of having dependable access to food to maintain a balanced diet.
  • Food insecurity: when five to 10 percent of a population has limited access to food.
  • Acute food and livelihood crisis: a plight where there is 10 to 15 percent of a community that experiences a severe absence of food and the only way to reach nourishment is by selling necessary items.
  • Humanitarian emergency: when 15 to 30 percent of a population is at an extreme absence of food and countless people meet there demise because of it.
  • Famine: when 30 percent of a population experiences an absolute lack of food.

Origins of Famine

To know what is famine is to see the origin. Just like many things in life like war, slavery, and any form of injustice there is a cause and effect. According to Joel Mokyr of the Britannica, famine originated in the 19th century in Ireland. The cause of hunger stemmed from a consecutive year of potato crop failure due to an infestation that targets the leaves and roots of these plants. It was later called the Great Famine. The Great Famine was so severe it was given three alternate names: Irish Potato Famine, Great Irish Famine, or Famine of 1845-1849.

Although crop failure is one of many reasons to why famines occur, there are several reasons why scarcity exists. For instance, Joe Hasell and Max Roser from Our World in Data states that the lack of serviceable food markets to support and ensure reliable transportation of goods to aid malnourished countries is an issue. Without efficient shipping from the marketplace, support cannot be released. Also, inflation on prices in food markets leads to marginalizing poverty-stricken countries to afford the food sold. According to Hasell and Roser’s source from the Markets and Famines novel, Martin Ravallion, increase in prices stems from floods that transpired throughout the famine which developed a supply and demand. Panic buying and price speculation, however, contributed to the actual cause of food shortage.

Solutions Exist

Understanding famine, the history, and the causes of this travesty leads to many solutions that can ensure that no one goes unfed. WeFarm CEO and Founder, Kenny Ewan, presents one such solution in providing farmers worldwide with the necessary communication for success. Programs like this begin to counteract every potential food scare and prohibit further damage to populations.

– Christopher Shipman

Photo: Flickr

WeFarmClimate change is a threat to humanity for a number of reasons. One of the most integral pieces of a functioning society is access to food and the means to cultivate it. As climate change continues to threaten weather patterns, soil, water, and air quality, it will be extremely important that farming practices are as up to date, sustainable, and efficient as possible. There are around 500 million small-scale farmers working today that live in extremely poor conditions. Access to technology and support for farming practices is scarce for farmers in remote locations or those who live in extremely poor circumstances. WeFarm, a peer-to-peer service is working to connect farmers in these situations to better arm them with knowledge and resources from other farmers around the world.

WeFarm is dictated by a few key principles. One of which is that information sharing will improve livelihoods. Millions of people are already armed with the tools to access information sharing technology such as cell phones. This “peer-to-peer” model has great power in that generations of farmers now have a platform to share information and expertise.

The concept of WeFarm came out of an experience abroad that led its founder to notice that agriculture-based societies were missing adequate information. There was so much knowledge to be shared, even between close communities, just no useful way to bring that information together and disseminate it to the public.

An important aspect of WeFarm is that no Internet connection is needed. SMS capabilities allow users to communicate by phone. Currently, about 90 percent of small-scale farmers around the world have access to such technology. With this statistic suspected to rise in the future, WeFarm is an effective and innovative platform in the agricultural world.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr

WeFarmThere are over 500 million smallholder farms in the world. Most of these farmers live on less than $1 a day and are highly vulnerable to severe climate change and other factors that can hurt their farms. On top of that, many of these farmers do not have access to the Internet to learn about ways to help their farms or even to help other farmers.

One company, WeFarm, has developed a way to connect farmers without having to have an Internet connection. WeFarm has implemented a free, peer-to-peer service for farmers to share information via SMS, rather than through the Internet.

WeFarm explains how this works with a simple example: “Rose’s crops are suffering from a disease, so she sends a simple, free text to the local WeFarm number.” Rose’s question would then be posted online and sent to certain WeFarm members via SMS. From there, Rose would receive answers within minutes, according to WeFarm, without having to leave her farm or needing an Internet connection.

Because of the use of SMS, these farmers can use simple mobile phones to access this information. Especially now that over 90 percent of smallholder farmers now have access to a basic mobile phone. Over 290,000 farmers have registered with WeFarm. Of 387,000 questions asked, over 540,000 answers have been given. In the six years that WeFarm has been operating, they have made it much easier for farmers to access crucial information, with the only cost being purchasing a basic mobile phone.

As of now, WeFarm is only available in three countries: Peru, Kenya and Uganda. Their website even shows a live feed of questions as they are asked and answered, along with a map to show where the questions originate from.

Although WeFarm is still young and growing, they have created an extremely helpful concept that can be implemented in many parts of the world without an Internet connection. WeFarm has created a way – by using a basic mobile phone – to share necessary information at a low cost to farmers around the world; its success thus far brings hope that WeFarm’s progress will spread to other countries and help farmers all over the world.

Rebekah Covey

Photo: Flickr

Small Farmers WeFarm InternetNowadays, it seems everything can go viral on the Internet in seconds, from a social justice movement to a funny cat video. But what do people in developing countries do to share ideas, ask questions and communicate with their peers who live in remote areas without the Internet as a permanent fixture in their lives?

For small-scale farmers in developing countries, the slightest challenges can quickly become insurmountable. Issues like climate change, access to profitable markets and below-average growing seasons hit small farmers much harder than their larger counterparts.

According to the Huffington Post, there are currently about 500 million smallholder farmers around the globe. On average, these agriculturists live on less than $1 a day.

In order to survive year after year, many small farmers have developed low-cost, effective solutions to the everyday problems they face. Until recently, these solutions could travel no farther than word-of-mouth could take them.

In 2014, WeFarm was founded with the mission of becoming “the internet for people without the internet.” The organization offers peer-to-peer communication amongst farmers in developing countries. Users can ask and answer questions using SMS or text messaging. The service is offered to smallholder farmers free of charge.

The service translates queries and advice so that small farmers from around the world can communicate and share the valuable information they have accumulated through their personal experiences. So far, over 100,000 answers have been provided to the 43,000 farmers registered to the program.

The founders of WeFarm thought strategically about how to make information available to all the small farmers who live without the Internet. Six billion of the world’s seven billion citizens have access to a mobile phone but only 25 percent of the global population has an Internet connection. SMS is a far more trafficked channel of communication for the world’s poor, compared to email or Internet messaging.

WeFarm has big plans for the data collected by the service. The organization sees the questions farmers are asking and answering as an opportunity to address some of the major issues inhibiting food production around the world.

The data gathered by WeFarm’s service is sold to major food producers to give them a sense of the daily struggles faced by small-scale farmers. The buyer companies can use this information to better analyze the issues and develop long-term strategies to address them.

According to Zoë Fairlamb, a spokesperson for WeFarm, “Small scale farmers produce 70 percent of the world’s food globally. Global brands rely on what small scale farmers are producing, yet they have next to no visibility on what is going on at the bottom of the supply chain. A lot of food is wasted in this way through very preventable diseases.”

Though WeFarm has already taken significant strides toward a more sustainable farming system, this is only the beginning for the organization. According to the Huffington Post, WeFarm is currently seeking investments in order to expand and reach one million farmers by the end of 2016.

As a connector of major players in the food industry and small farmers across the globe, WeFarm is in a unique position to change the way the world grows food and transfers information.

As Fairlamb put it, “WeFarm wants to be about changing [the] conversation and giving [farmers] a voice, showing their knowledge is valuable and giving them a way to share that information.”

Jennifer Diamond

Sources: Huffington Post, WeFarm, Global Citizen, Space Innovation Congress
Photo: National Geographic