Digital Frontiers: Digital for Resilience and Food Security
Digital Profiles highlight the many ways that digital tools are being used globally to advance inclusive, agriculture-led growth; resilience; nutrition; and water security, sanitation, and hygiene to accelerate and protect development progress.
With support from USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia, led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center—along with partners from academia and both research and extension services, including the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation—developed an Early Warning System for Wheat Blast that is being deployed in parts of Brazil and on a national scale in Bangladesh.
The Feed the Future Uganda Youth Leadership for Agriculture (YLA) Activity, implemented by Chemonics International from 2015 to 2020, focused on increasing economic opportunities for 350,000 Ugandan youth. As part of its strategy to promote youth involvement in agriculture, YLA partnered with Equator Seeds Limited (ESL), one of the fastest growing seed companies in Uganda to streamline ESL’s supply chain and extension system.
The USAID Nobo Jatra project, implemented by World Vision, works to improve gender equitable food security, nutrition, and resilience for vulnerable populations in southwest Bangladesh. The project baseline showed 28.6% prevalence of stunting among children under five, underscoring the severity of need for improved nutrition outcomes in the region. Nobo Jatra employs multiple digital solutions, such as digital cash transfers, to most effectively and efficiently transform nutrition outcomes.
The Feed the Future NOURISH project, implemented by Save the Children and its partners, worked to improve the nutritional status and well-being of women and children in Cambodia. Rooted in a community-led approach, the project included a conditional cash transfer program and mobile app for the “first thousand days”—from pregnancy through the child’s first two years of age—for low-income women. Eligible families could receive up to six payments over this period; funds were transferred directly to over 20,000 women’s bank accounts upon completion of specific health and nutrition activities.
In 2019, under the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), American Red Cross partnered with AtmaGo, a social networking app focused on community engagement and resilience, to improve earthquake preparedness. Community disaster preparedness workers and volunteers were trained as citizen journalists to create relevant posts on AtmaGo. In six months, the platform gained 75,000 new users in the target areas, and community knowledge and action to better prepare for earthquakes increased.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk, and Resilience (MRR Lab) developed an experimental, digitized game to try to make the value proposition for insurance more relatable to pastoralists. Instead of using theoretical arguments about hypothetical situations and risk, Sim Pastoralist takes players through a realistic journey across multiple seasons as a pastoralist, giving them the opportunity to virtually experience up to 100 seasons as they make different decisions about insurance and observe the long-term consequences.
Haiti’s decentralized water utilities across the country are intended to operate as self-reliant business units. However, an absence of information management has hindered efficient operations and revenue collection. The USAID Water and Sanitation Project helps local utilities adopt existing digital technologies to better collect and use data on their water networks.
Led by Millennium Water Alliance, the Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development (RAPID) is a five-year USAID program that increases communities’ access to water services in northern Kenya. In response to significant challenges and limitations with community management of water infrastructure, the project has leveraged multiple uses of digital technology to improve efficiency, reliability, and access at scale.