ICT4D News Roundup – May 19, 2017

May 18, 2017

Welcome to our weekly #ICT4D News Roundup! We are passionate about the intersection of technology and social good. Each week we look for the best articles that focus on the ICT4D industry, the issues that impact the sectors we work across, and interesting content for social enterprises.


Highlighted articles this week:

  • An Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; learn how global health organizations are working quickly to reach the area and provide emergency services. – The Washington Post
  • Why is data the new “currency” in agriculture? – AgFunder News
  • An IT leader makes a case for using more data technologies in the developing world. – Economic Times
  • How is mobile money revolutionizing the way people interact with money, banks, and mobile phones, in general, in Kenya? The New York Times
  • A group of environmentalists from Guatemala are trying to prove that providing better healthcare to women and saving the Rainforest are correlated. – Motherboard



Ebola Stops with me

The World Health Organization has reported an Ebola outbreak in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although only a few cases have been reported, this is a critical point for stopping the spread of the highly contagious and deadly disease. This article is a reminder of how access to healthcare is lacking for many people who live in rural areas around the world, which is especially dangerous during outbreaks where medical response time can mean life or death.  

Many new measures have been set up to respond to future epidemics, such as better communication systems and quarantine procedures, but there’s still much more that is needed.”

Read more on washingtonpost.com

In West Africa, our partners used CommCare to improve core infectious disease response roles during the 2014 and 2015 Ebola epidemic. Read more about these efforts here. In addition, we also created a series of template CommCare apps that can be copied and used for Ebola response efforts, including:

  • Contact Tracing: a starter application that takes lessons learned from contact tracing in past Ebola outbreaks to create a comprehensive application for conducting contact tracing at the community level.
  • Ebola Education, Training, and Stigma Reduction: a starter application for providing counseling information to communities through frontline workers.


Farming Landscape

Today, data in agriculture is much more than just “statistical information” that can be analyzed. The promise of data in this industry has led to huge technological advancements to help make farming a more precise science. How can we make agriculture data more actionable and accurate? And what will it take for farmers to buy-in? This is the first article in a three-part series that explores these ideas and the data revolution in agriculture.

The industry’s challenge is to develop the technology that enables the information transfer to-and-from the farmer, who remains the primary agent for the collection and collation of data, as well as the chief beneficiary. The inherent complexities in the agricultural production chain present a concerning bottleneck in technology transfer for agriculture overall.”

Read more on agfundernews.com

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) recently funded a study designed to determine the feasibility of using a single, off-the-shelf mobile data collection solution. The research team also analyzed how mobile data collection would impact that type of data collected, and how the various users involved in a project would utilize the data. Read their findings here.


Hand with phone and data

Did you know? A recent study found that “more than 90 percent of NGOs in the developing world believe data analytics is the key to empowering these countries.” In this techtalk blog, Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA, The Software Alliance, explores the impact data science has on developing nations, specifically in areas of health and resource management.

Moreover, millions of lives will be changed if innovative businesses, from the largest technology companies to the smallest start-ups, continue to invest in the developing world to address crucial issues. Software is already drastically improving the well-being of people in these regions and boosting their economies. Progress will only accelerate if we work collectively to make the digital revolution truly global.”

Read more on economictimes.indiatimes.com

If you’re interested in reading more evidence around how data can impact frontline workers in low-resource settings, check out the CommCare Evidence Base for a high-level analysis of 51+ studies.


Woman with baby in Kenya holding a phone

In 2007 Safaricom, one of the largest mobile networks in Kenya, started a money transfer service using mobile phones called M-Pesa. In the past, money transfers were expensive, slow, and inconvenient for those living miles from the nearest bank. Now, with M-Pesa, people are able to quickly send and access small loans, which is having a dramatic impact on local economies. What researchers are finding is that access to mobile money strengthens local economies by providing people with a safety net during emergencies, incorporating lower income families into the formal banking system, and offering more people a secure way to save money in a country with “one of the lowest savings rates in the world.”

M-Pesa is a beginning. Mobile money is spreading — 100 countries have it, although nowhere else is it as widespread and successful as in Kenya. It’s also a platform for other innovations that lead to other ways to help people live better.”

Read more on nytimes.com

 Guatemalan Rainforest

Is there a correlation between offering reproductive health services and improving conservation efforts? Years ago, while advocating for rainforest conservation measures in Guatemala, a group of environmentalists from Fundaeco were alarmed to find high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality in the communities in which they were working. The group shifted its mission towards providing better access to healthcare for women in these areas. Surprisingly, however, they found a potential link between providing women with better reproductive health and education and local conservation efforts. There’s not yet enough evidence on the topic to prove a direct correlation.

For now, those involved in this kind of strategy are soldiering on, hoping that enough anecdotal evidence might compel other groups to give this holistic approach a shot. At the end of the day, even if a direct link between women’s health and conservation can’t be established, is working together towards a common goal really such a bad idea?”

Read more on motherboard.vice.com


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