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Ken Banks is an innovator, mentor, anthropologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Founder of kiwanja.net, he devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world. His early research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, an award-winning text messaging-based field communication system designed to empower grassroots non-profit organisations. He shares exciting stories in "Digital Diversity" about how mobile phones and other appropriate technologies are being used around the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives.

Breaking the Silence: SMS Helps Liberian Schools to Improve Education

Students and academics in schools throughout Liberia are taking advantage of a system that allows them to gather information and discuss possible solutions to problems they face in the country’s corrupt education system. In this edition of Digital Diversity, Blair Glencorse talks about “Tell-it-True”, which uses text messages to allow users to share problems and…

The Invisible Borrowers: Opening the Door to Credit with the Mobile Phone

Individuals living in less developed parts of the world often engage in an informal economy where financial identities and credit scores are not commonly used. Little is done to keep records of financial histories, unlike the measures taken in the formal economy. In this installment of Digital Diversity, Rachel Itwaru, an intern for InVenture, explains…

Shedding Light in the Night: How Solar Energy and Mobile Charging Improves Quality of Life in India

In this installment of Digital Diversity, Gwen Kidera – Project Associate at S3IDF (Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund) – explains how their non-profit organisation provides underserved communities with Integrated Energy Centre carts (IECs) equipped with reliable solar powered lamps and mobile charging stations. Access to light and mobile technology improves the quality of life…

Kicking Conflict into Touch: How Sport and Technology Unite Community and Conservation in Kenya

Football has long been recognised as a unifying sport, with the ability to bring sides together in some of the most trying of circumstances. In this installment of Digital Diversity, Njenga Kahiro shares his very personal experience of how a combination of football and text messaging have successfully brought together warring communities to promote conservation…

Reconnecting the Disconnected: A Story of Technology, Refugees and Finding Lost Family

In this installment of Digital Diversity, brothers David and Christopher Mikkelsen tell the story of how their organisation, Refugees United, was born. It all began with one man’s search for his family after they were separated for five years because of the war in Afghanistan. The Mikkelsen’s were struck by the frequency of families separating…

SMS and Facebook Help Farmers Reduce Pollution in Resen

Pollution from the overuse of pesticides threatens humans and animal species in the region of the Prespa Lake Basin in Resen, Macedonia. In response, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) worked with farmers in the area to adopt environmentally-friendly practices by setting up a system to monitor pests and diseases, but a lack of local media…

Aid Workers Turn to Text Messaging to Improve Food Aid Delivery to Refugees in the Western Sahara

Communication between beneficiaries and food aid providers in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria suffers as the number of food distribution points increases. Rosa Akbari worked as an independent researcher funded by a grant from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to explore better communication tools to be used within…

Who Needs Money Anyway? Towards Resilience, Sustainability, and a Healthier Means of Exchange

We pay too little attention to the reserve power of the people to take care of themselves. We are too solicitous for government intervention, on the theory, first, that the people themselves are helpless, and second, that the government has superior capacity for action. Often times both of these conclusions are wrong – Calvin Coolidge…

Reach for Your Pocket: Nicaraguans Turn to their Phones for Reproductive Health

Access to the Internet is something often taken for granted in the Western world. For many of us it’s a handy way to share our thoughts and lives over social media, or to keep in touch with friends, or to look up the latest sports scores. For many people in the developing world the Internet…

How to Change the World: Reflections of an Archbishop, an Author and a Technology Innovator.

“Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness. The ones that are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu     I’ve been home for about three…

One hundred hours in Burma: A photo diary

Knowing whether to call it Burma or Myanmar was just one of the many questions I had as the tug guided our 25,000 ton ship gingerly up the Yangon River. The dredging that had taken place earlier that morning had turned the open water from a cool bubble-bath blue to a murky brown, although I…

Social Entrepreneurship on the High Seas

Sailing some of the most promising socially and environmentally-focused technology companies around the world to meet local business leaders, investors and fellow entrepreneurs may not be the most conventional way of helping scale and grow their ventures, but that’s precisely what Unreasonable at Sea are attempting in a bold experiment in global entrepreneurship.

Mobile Data: How Phones Help Keep the Water Flowing

We often don’t associate the problem of water scarcity with mobile phones but, as Zarah Rahman of the Aquaya Institute explains, water is about much more than turning on a tap. Helping people in the developing world access safe water requires not just H2O but information – in order to monitor cleanliness, distribution, infrastructure –…

Wireless Learning: How Mobile Technology is Transforming Classrooms and Empowering Young Women in Jordan

Technology in classrooms often seems like an add-on, an extra luxury for developed education systems. But, as Edith Saldivar explains in today’s Digital Diversity, IT can help students all over the world learn in entirely new ways. The company Edith works for, Qualcomm, has been helping students in Jordan use IT to transform their education…

The Invisible Bank: How Kenya Has Beaten the World in Mobile Money

Click a few keys, exchange a few numbers, and it’s done. With just a mobile phone and a registration with Safaricom, Kenya’s mobile service giant, you can pay for anything in seconds – no cash, no long journeys to towns to reach a bank, and no long lines when you get there. This is m-Pesa,…