Friday, February 13, 2015

Open data: how mobile phones saved bananas from bacterial wilt in Uganda; Guardian, 2/11/15

Anna Scott, Guardian; Open data: how mobile phones saved bananas from bacterial wilt in Uganda:
"Bananas are a staple food in Uganda. Ugandans eat more of the fruit than any other country in the world. Each person eats on average 700g (about seven small bananas) a day, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, and they provide up to 27% of the population’s calorie intake.
But since 2002 a disease known as banana bacterial wilt (BBW) has wiped out crops across the country. When plants are infected, they cannot absorb water so their leaves start to shrivel and they eventually die...
The Ugandan government drew upon open data – data that is licensed and made available for anyone to access and share – about the disease made available by Unicef’s community polling project Ureport to deal with the problem.
Ureport mobilises a network of nearly 300,000 volunteers across Uganda, who use their mobiles to report on issues that affect them, from polio immunisation to malaria treatment, child marriage, to crop failure. It gathers data from via SMS polls and publishes the results as open sourced, open datasets.
The results are sent back to community members via SMS along with treatment options and advice on how best to protect their crops. Within five days of the first SMS being sent out, 190,000 Ugandans had learned about the disease and knew how to save bananas on their farms."

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