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How The World Bank is Using Technology and Open Development to Help Eradicate Poverty (extracts on Uganda) PDF Print E-mail

By Paul Sawers,The Next Web.

...Pointing to “one of the most exciting projects” he’s been involved with in his short tenure at The World Bank, Vein highlighted an initiative in Uganda designed to curb a crop-killing disease.

“Uganda is the second largest producer of bananas in the world, and it also has an 80% use of bananas for its own internal food-basket. Bananas are hugely important to the country and the people,” says Vein.

"The difficulty is, however, there’s a disease that’s hacking away at banana plants, with the potential for wiping it out.”

Working in cahoots with UNICEF, The World Bank targeted 200,000 Ugandans, sending them an SMS that said: “Do you know of anyone who has, or has suffered from, this banana growth disease. Yes or no?”

Within 24 hours, they’d gleaned 45,000 responses and were able to map all those responses through geo-coding and create the first ever map of the entire country which helped illustrate the extent to which this disease was attacking banana plantations.

“This had never been done before,” adds Vein. “Then, within the next 24 hours, we sent another SMS asking if they wanted more information on how to solve this problem. More than 35,000 people responded with an affirmitive, and were able to correctly tell them how to stem the problem." Read more...



...Another example cited was in identifying problems in schools through SMS. The project, called U-Report, solicits citizen feedback via SMS polls, then broadcasts the results through various media channels, including radio, newspapers and websites.

So that new-fangled iPhone or Android smartphone isn’t required – simple feature-phones are sufficient to carry out polls and garner data at scale. Read more...


....In another example of a UNICEF-World Bank tie-up, a project call Edu Trac tapped mobile phones and SMS technology to help scale the project across Uganda; with a view to helping them understand the state of schools. This included things like attendance, literacy and so on.

It gives parents, students and teachers the opportunity to text, track and monitor what’s going on with education in any country. Read more...

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