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How can technology help some of the world’s most vulnerable people?

Photo by Victor Nnakwe on Unsplash

At the beginning of the 21st Century, the United Nations released the Millennium Development Goals with the purpose of eradicating poverty. Fifteen years later, poverty is still a prevalent issue. In Nigeria, you do not have to go very far to witness the negative effects of poverty. However, what if there is a solution to some of these problems and it’s technology.

The cellphone has become an important tool in improving the lives of vulnerable individuals. According to the Sydney Morning Herald in an article about how technology is saving lives found that there are more than 7 billion mobile telephone subscriptions worldwide and most of these are in developing countries. During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, text messages were used in Sierra Leone to warn people about the epidemic, warning people about symptoms of the disease as well as how to prevent it from spreading.

CareMessages aims to improve health literacy in underserved individuals. The organization uses the endemic presence of phones in developing countries in order to accomplish its goals. According to The World Health Organization, possessing basic health literacy is critical for everyday living if a person is unable to both adequately process and fully understand basic health information it would be very difficult to look after themselves or make informed health decisions. In order to raise awareness of health in communities where there is limited access to education , the company uses mobile technology. The organization believes that using the cellphone is the best way to accomplish its aim due to text messages having a 98% open rate. Since 2013 CareMessage has added over one million patients to their program and sent over 10 million messages.

Technology like the tablet, cellphone or the smart watch can be taken for granted, due to the convenience they have welcomed in our daily lives. The E-book is one of such conveniences as users can store almost all the books they want in one place and read where they want to. There are some who would argue their preference for a hardcover book over a E-reader, however for many people it may be a way to tackle the level of education in their underprivileged communities.

Photo by Victor Nnakwe on Unsplash

According to UNESCO, there are 1 billion illiterate adults this is about 26 per cent of the world’s population. There are also 250 million school-age children who cannot read or write at an elementary school level. In Africa, the root of this problem is the fact that 50 per cent of African schools have zero books (or close to zero). World reader aims to address this problem through E-readers. World reader believes that ‘digital reading has the power to reach billions’. Its their aim for children to access their content via any phone or e-reader.

The organization sends E-readers to various libraries and schools in Africa. Since 2010, the company has delivered over 30,000 E-readers and over 5,500,000 books to 551 schools and libraries. They do not only deliver books but curate them as well, providing children with books of various genres and from different regions around the world.

Education is a very important resource for vulnerable individuals. It gives children the opportunity to one day be able to access skilled jobs or even higher education. For organizations like World reader technology has become a solution to illiteracy in Africa.

When Amos Gichamba was a young farmer from Kenya he grew frustrated with how buyers of his cows’ milk would often pay a cheap price for his products but sell the milk to another party for double what they paid him. In Kenya, it is common for farmers to be scammed in such a way. He created an app which used a text-based system that let farmers send questions to a computer. A machine will match up farmers’ queries with a database which consists of information about the local dairy market, then spit back answers back in 140 characters or less. Amos Gichamba now has a PhD and is the head of Computer Sciences at the University of Nairobi. His app also received an Award for the Best Mobile Application by the ICT Board of Kenya.

Photo by Victor Nnakwe on Unsplash

Nigeria has a mobile phone penetration of over 80 per cent, Paga takes advantage of this . We are a financial transfer service which uses an SMS based system that works on even the most basic of phones. Paga makes transferring money easy for every Nigerian individual while keeping it safe at the same time.

— Beulah Samuel-Ogbu, Marketing Intern.

Making Life Possible is our ethos at paga, and it is what keeps us committed to our mission of providing inclusive financial services for all Nigerians. With over 16,000 agent outlets and 9 million+ customers, we are inspired by the stories of the community we are building and the people we are empowering by making life possible every single day.

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