AI technology
AI technology is all around and many use it without even knowing it. However, many people in developing countries cannot access this technology without help. WorldData has reported that there are 152 developing countries worldwide, with a population of 6.69 billion. The entirety of Central and South America and Africa are developing nations, along with the majority of Asia and other island states. About 9% of the global population is living in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.90 per day, and living below the higher poverty line. More than 20% earn less than $3.20 per day and more than 40% earn less than $5.50.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is basically coding and software that help people in daily life. While people know it best for its role in science and medicine, it also has a role in the productive robots in factories, the voice recognition in smartphones, the software that detects online viruses and the drones that deliver packages and help farmers. While there is no official definition for AI, it is typically a man-made machine that does things humans cannot do in a timely manner or at all. The term “artificial intelligence” or “AI” was created in 1956 at a conference in New Hampshire, the United States, but AI machines existed before that.

How is AI Technology Helping Developing Nations?

Agriculture. AI technology supports many different aspects of agriculture, particularly in Africa. It helps farmers take care of their crops by detecting when is the best time to plant and harvest. It can also help detect when crops are sick. For example, mCrops is a form of AI that helps diagnose crop diseases in Uganda. Additionally, another AI that is helpful in agriculture is drones that spray pesticides on sick plants. However, they can also spray water and help plant new crops in the healthiest parts of the ground. An example of this is Aerobotics, which works in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Education. AI technology can help developing nations, especially in rural areas, with education because it is effective for illiteracy, coursework and general school subjects, and can alleviate the short supply of teachers and supplies using tutoring technology. Sites like Dapito, Eneza Education and Tutorful help people connect around the world. For example, they teach English to non-English speakers, customizing content and lessons for a specific student. Students in developing nations are intelligent, but they lack qualified teachers and are sometimes unable to travel to school. For example, travel might not be available when there are floods and when they are sick, especially when many schools are far away.

Recognition. This method of AI includes location and supports many fields, such as health care, natural disasters, deliveries and shipments, and more, generally by the use of drones. An earthquake hit Nepal in 2015 where the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) used AI in relief to locate damage from social media posts, mobile devices, satellites and multiple other devices. Currently, the World Wildlife Fund uses drones in Kenya to arrest wildlife poachers, and UNICEF is building a machine to detect malnutrition using facial recognition.

AI Technology and Health Care

AI technology is helping globally, especially in rural countries in Africa. It is constantly undergoing development for health care but relies on the government, NGOs and medical professionals to authorize machines for medical use and support. AI can diagnose patients, recommend treatments and discover global viruses. For those living in rural and developing nations, AI is lifesaving as it can locate injured people which a normal navigation or GPS system cannot do, and send medicine and medical supplies via drones. It also provides qualified doctors to countries with a lack of medical professionals and to those who need a second opinion on diagnoses, treatment and surgery. This reduces costs, manual labor and mortality rates and develops education in health care and literacy.

In 2022, the University of West Scotland developed new AI technology that enables lung diseases to be identified faster with an accuracy of 98%, meaning diseases are less likely to spread and more people will be correctly diagnosed before a disease progresses and can receive treatment. Further research has found that it can detect COVID-19 cases. This technology is especially useful in developing nations during winter periods especially and globally in general. This will not replace human labor but will support hospitals. This AI technology cuts short the long wait and use of CT scans, blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds, cutting down further costs and time taken to identify disease and illness.

– Deanna Barratt
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Energy Insecurity in GreenlandHome to roughly 600 residents, Qaanaaq is the northernmost town in Greenland. With Arctic landscapes and high fuel costs, native residents have expressed concerns over their inability to continue spending on fossil fuels. As the community looks for new solutions to address the threat of energy insecurity in Greenland, renewable energy is offering promising prospects.

Fossil Fuels in the Arctic

Resources for fuel have been an ongoing issue for those in Greenland, but for communities like Qaanaaq, being so far north presents unique challenges. Traditionally, people in Greenland use fossil fuels more commonly because they are easier to transport across long distances. However, since Qaanaaq is not accessible by road, the ice-breaking ship brings all fuel, which is not always a reliable nor successful mode of transportation. According to Nature, in 2019, ice conditions were such that the ship carrying fuel was unable to deliver essential fuel sources to the community and the shipment was eventually flown in.

The cost of these delivery systems is significant and accounts for the high prices of local fuels. As sub-zero temperatures are frequent, heating costs for residents are reaching all-time highs–even as the government of Greenland offers heavy subsidization for these fuels, Nature reports.

With 80 remote communities in Greenland relying on diesel fuel for electric power, energy insecurity in Greenland is becoming more of an issue each year.

Sled Dogs and Energy Insecurity

The cost of fuel has led to a series of issues–each causing a domino effect for the community. Recent climatic and environmental changes have threatened Indigenous practices, as locals in Qaanaaq have seen their traditions not only fade, but their livelihoods threatened. As energy insecurity in Greenland increases, hunters and fishermen have struggled to feed their sled dogs, resulting in a decline of traditional hunting and fishing practices.

Additionally, as fossil fuel prices climb, many have recently resorted to leaving their hometown as a direct result of the subsequent financial and mental strains. With life-long residents leaving the area–taking with them Indigenous knowledge–this threatens both culture and tradition.

Power from Natural Resources

Concerns have not gone unnoticed by locals and scholars alike. Mary Albert, a snow physicist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, has championed the beginning of energy change for the Qaanaaq community, according to Nature. By partnering with native residents and hunters like Toku Oshima, goals of limiting dependency on fossil fuels and using locally generated resources in the area are becoming a reality.

With the fishing and hunting community’s needs at the forefront, Albert and her team started building sustainable technology solutions in April 2020 to help the Qaanaaq community transition to a renewable energy source that can be easily maintained by the community.

Unlike other renewables, which can require heavy maintenance which Qaanaaq struggles to provide, the team is working on their project directly with residents of the town to provide a system that is both affordable and easily serviceable within the harsh arctic environment. The project aims to use waste heat from diesel generators to generate power, which would otherwise have been wasted, according to WWF Report.

Funding from the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society has provided the team with the funding necessary to travel to Qaanaaq and understand their specific needs.

Success in the North

Notably, renewable energy solutions are not new to Greenland. The community of Uummannaq has the highest northernmost solar panels in the country. Nukissiorfiit, a government-owned energy company, completed the solar cells’ installation in 2020.

Since then, 71% of the energy it produced is with the help of renewables through solar cells, wind power and hydropower.

Similarly, the town of Ilulissat, Greenland, boasts 95% green energy, as hydropower dominates productivity and has replaced a major heritage diesel power plant, according to Visit Greenland. These hydropower projects are able to use meltwater coming from permafrost layers and glaciers, accessing turbines as deep as 200 meters below the surface.

These communities stand as exemplars of the possibilities that await Qaanaaq if they can continue forward with securing renewable energy as their primary energy source.

A Green Future

As many address the concerns of energy insecurity in Greenland, it is clear that the future of Greenland’s energy is shifting towards renewables. By harnessing the resources and power of the Arctic, the goal of the government-owned energy company, Nukissiorfiit, is to produce 100% green energy products throughout Greenland by the year 2030, according to Visit Greenland.

– Michelle Collingridge
Photo: Flickr

Develop telecommunication technology
The Solomon Islands has reached a deal with Australia to help develop telecommunication technology in the country. Only about one-sixth of the country’s 660,000 people are currently connected to the Internet, with most of that population concentrated in the Solomon Islands’ urban areas and relying on satellite connections to use it. The Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia will allow the country to connect to outside servers and develop telecommunication connections within. Australia had also previously helped the Solomon Islands quell civil unrest between various indigenous militias between 2003 to 2017.

The Giant Undersea Cable Project

The Australian communications company Vocus is in charge of the construction of a major underwater cable known as the Coral Sea Cable System. Australia granted it in 2017 with a grant of $137 million, and Australia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea agreed to the deal to build the cable in 2018. The Coral Sea Cable System is a 4,700 km (2920 mi) underwater cable that will link Sydney to Port Moresby and Honiara, with the latter also connecting to Solomon Islands Domestic Network linking the archipelago. The cable will transfer over 40 TB of data to all three ports in the network, which would allow for 300,000 new jobs and growth of $5 billion in GDP for Pacific countries such as the Solomon Islands by 2040. As noted previously, only a small percentage of the population that uses the Internet use satellite to connect to it. As such, the underwater cable should grant the island nation more reliable and stable connections in part for the Solomon Islands tech deal which has helped to develop telecommunication technology significantly.

Since making the deal official, the project has made much progress in building its undersea cable network. The project installed landing sites at Port Moresby and Honiara in July 2019, symbolized by a golden buoy marking the occasion. In August 2019, it installed the landing site in Sydney and the final splice in September 2019. The Solomon Islands Domestic Network planned to finish in time for the December 2019 activation. Once complete, the Solomon Islands, alongside neighboring Papua New Guinea, can connect to a more reliable broadband connection and reliable Internet access.

Other Developments

Before the Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia, the Solomon Islands’ fisheries brokered a deal with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for training tech. Beginning in May 2018, the WWF provided funds for new tech such as tablets that allow for training of observers to monitor and observe fishing levels in the Solomon Islands and currently has 85 percent of electronic reporting by satellite commutation with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR). This efficient approach also lets observers electronically report between fishing boats out at sea and stations back on land. While the deal occurred before the Coral Sea Cable system deal, the e-reporting will benefit greatly from the system implementation upon its completion in 2019.

The Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia will build the internal infrastructure and bolster the Internet connection in the country by connecting the Solomon Islands with not only neighboring Papua New Guinea and Australia but the archipelago as well. The project also will bolster existing tech programs with improved infrastructure once completed. The project should complete by the end of 2019. Continuing to develop telecommunication technology is important for the global population.

–  Henry Elliott
Photo: Pixabay

Water quality in South Africa is considered a difficult issue, and the country has struggled to supply some rural and local municipalities. People in urban areas, usually provided with fresh drinkable tap water, are concerned with the water quality of this year’s supply.

The engineered part of the water system in South Africa is heavily dependent on the healthy functioning of the natural water cycle. Water quality is poor due to growing pollution caused by urbanization, mining, deforestation and other anthropogenic causes. South Africa’s annual rainfall is 492 millimeters, which is only half of the world’s average.

After a few months of drought, dam levels dramatically lowered, causing a fresh water deficiency. Multiple complaints arose all over the country. Water quality in South Africa has been affected by unusual smell and color properties. Numerous instances of belly sicknesses were reported, and some people were hospitalized.

Governmental officials have been working to ensure that the sicknesses were caused by the seasonal change and from the turnover of the water in the reservoirs, which is to blame for latest water’s aesthetic qualities. Concern about sedimentary levels in water reservoirs, which were raised by the drought, has increased, as high sedimentary levels are dangerous for human health.

Further water inspection unveiled tap water compliance with the South African National Standard (SANS) 241:2015. Analysts warn that the climate change could impact water quality in South Africa. High evaporation levels and temperature increase can cause volumetric water loss. The decrease in its quality, specifically due to higher salt concentration and aging infrastructure, is in response to climatic demands.

Multiple organizations, such as WWF and the Blue Drop Certification System, are taking effort in prioritizing water safety. Their efforts are increasing awareness of the current situation amongst the population. Understanding responsible use in the current environment, in addition to growing a sustainable economy, will improve the ecological situation for all South Africans.

Yana Emets

Photo: Flickr

In our technologically advanced, post-modern society where humanitarian efforts are currently quite the hip thing to do, there is a lot to be done in terms of healing this world right from behind your very own computer screen.


View The Borgen Project’s Volunteer from Home Openings.


One notable website in this particular field is Volunteer Match, a page dedicated to helping you find your ultimate volunteering position. By detecting your location and prompting you for what issues you are for or against, divided into several categories (Advocacy & Human Rights, Animals, Art & Culture, Board Development), this handy page will connect you with your perfect organization. Thousands of positions are listed with the site, and by visiting the site, you are sure to find something that appeals to you.

A quick way to volunteer from home is to donate money to non-profit organizations. Yes, you’ve heard this one before; the importance of supporting your organizations each month cannot be stressed enough and definitely deserves some repeating. Most of the larger organizations, such as WWF and PETA, provide the option of donating a fixed amount of money each week; it is these donors that actively support respective causes.

Other opportunities for volunteering straight from home lie in the ability for communication. By buzzing a certain topic in your social circles, you raise awareness. Wish to have a more direct position in helping others? Why not volunteer for a crisis hotline focused on pressing issues?

An app exists for Apple users which allows smaller organizations to quickly and conveniently post new and ongoing projects for anybody who’s curious to keep up and participate. Increasing media presence and helping build a strong community among app users is currently the crucial focus of this app, called Sparked.

If you speak more than one language, you may consider translating some major organizations’ missions and progress reports into your language. Volunteering from home isn’t only convenient; it reaches many across the world and empowers those with access to a computer to truly make a difference. E-volunteering is truly a step toward the future, because as we know, nobody can do everything, yet everybody can do something. To apply this principle to the general public and derive an increase in involvement is exactly what is needed for absolving global issues.

– Natalia Isaeva
Sources: Volunteer Match, Idealist, Sparked
Photo: SES


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