When famine was declared across parts of South Sudan this February, a team of experts in Berlin mobilized a unique way to help prevent the crisis from spreading: By empowering any smartphone user in the world to donate a lifesaving meal to someone in need in South Sudan.
This was made possible through a new app designed to fight global hunger with quick donations of US $.50, which is all it takes to feed one child for a day. Apps like this have already provided millions of meals to people in South Sudan — including women like Nyalel, whose family fled the violence near their home and survived on water lilies and palm nuts before finding refuge in a remote village.
When it comes to eradicating global hunger for good, innovative technology like this will be crucial for success. Whether it’s clean cook stoves that don’t emit harmful gases, satellites used to monitor fertile grazing land or providing “digital food” through e-cards, aid organizations are harnessing the latest technology to help families put food on the table.
New apps are just the latest example of how cellphones are fighting hunger. For smallholder farmers and refugee households, basic SMS technology is being used to map the world’s hunger hotspots so humanitarian agencies can pinpoint in real time where the most vulnerable families live. Compare that to the traditional way of obtaining global food security data — sending aid workers door-to-door with paper surveys, often to remote villages unreachable by road — and it’s easy to understand how this technology has transformed how frequently, effectively and affordably this information can be gathered and shared.
Over the past 25 years, the number of hungry people has dropped from one in six to one in nine people worldwide — despite a growing population, a changing climate and escalating global conflict. Better technology means we can all play an increasing role in this fight. Fueled by generosity and armed with a smartphone, you can be a hunger fighter too.
Aliya Karim, Social Media Editor, World Food Program USA, [email protected]