Mobiles and solar energy: How innovation saves lives | ActionAid UK

Judith Davey

Director of People, Performance and Accountability

Innovation is crucial to ActionAid – it helps us to reach more people and have an even greater impact on the people we support who are living in poverty. Our global strategy calls for alternatives - new thinking and innovative approaches. Using mobile technology in Kenya is just one of many ways in which we're doing exactly that.

Hasha Kalcatcha, from the Borana tribe, using mobile technology to tackle hunger in Kenya

Mobiles, solar energy reducing hunger in Kenya

Hasha Kalcatcha is a member of the Borana tribe in Rapsu, a remote part of Kenya badly affected by drought. By providing her community with mobile phones and solar chargers we’ve enabled farmers to receive timely information, check market prices and choose the best times to harvest and sell their produce.

The project uses innovative technology – FrontlineSMS and Freedom Fone – to send information on food and livestock prices to multiple recipients from a computer based at ActionAid’s local office.

Imagine the difference this made – harvesting at exactly the right time, no unnecessary journeys in the hot dry weather and the best prices for the produce. This simple but extraordinarily effective project has helped tackle hunger in communities affected by drought and received the Innovation Award at the 2012 Technology 4 Good Awards.

Learning from each other

This is just one example of how we’re leading on innovation and we’re determined to be even better, so we decided to look at what other organisations are doing too, so we can learn from other charities, the public sector, and the commercial sector.

Working with New Philanthropy Capital, we pulled all the insights together from organisations as diverse as Department for International Development, BBC, Jamie Oliver Foundation, Women’s Aid, Rocketmakers (a high tech startup) and fellow development organisations like Oxfam, WaterAid and Christian Aid.