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Power for CKWs in Uganda

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Posted on April 04, 2012

Chris Smith and Gillian Evans are a husband and wife team volunteering in Uganda with Grameen Foundation through our Bankers without Borders® volunteer initiative.

As part of its Mobile Agriculture initiative, which leverages the power of the mobile phone to help fight “information poverty” among poor, rural farmers, Grameen Foundation has deployed more than 850 Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) across Uganda in 20 districts, serving almost 62,000 farmers. Our CKWs use simple Huawei IDEOS smart phones that cost about $80 and run the Android software platform. This is a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution to get agriculture tips, market prices, weather forecasts and lots of other information to poor farmers deep in rural villages.

A problem we encountered early in the development and deployment of the program was the lack of reliable electricity in those rural villages to charge the smartphones. When we launched the CKW program two years ago, we gave car batteries to the CKWs as a means of charging their phones – but this worked out about as well as you might imagine. We then found a partner in a San Francisco based startup called Fenix, which was designing and building solar-charging solutions for use by the rural poor. We've developed an excellent relationship with the Fenix team over the last year, and we are deploying the Fenix ReadySet solar-charging solution to all of our CKWs.

Read the rest of the article at the Grameen Foundation Blog.

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