SEATTLE—The Practical Action app is advancing the technological reach to poor communities, providing efficient access to important tools and knowledge.
Practical Action is an organization that works within 45 countries around the world. The group brings “technological justice” to poor communities in its work to alleviate global poverty. Through the use of technology, Practical Action’s goal is to enable these communities to find sustainable solutions to transform their lives.
In many impoverished areas around the world, access to technology is scarce. In particular, some places are completely cut of from modern energy. Consequently, it is difficult for these individuals to gain access to crucial knowledge that may improve their lives. As a result, having the ability to attain information through technology is key to helping poor communities out of poverty.
This issue is directly recognized and addressed on a new app by Practical Answers, a technical information service through Practical Action. The app, designed in Nepal, was developed by Sachin Sapkota. As The Huffington Post reports, he states, “This app was built to provide our users with the power of knowledge in their hand held devices [.…] It really has the potential to change millions of lives for the better.”
Practical Action addresses poverty through technology in three ways:
- Transforming lives through projects and programs on the ground that gives poor communities access to modern energy and sustainability. For example, poor communities within an urban setting gain access to clean water and sanitation.
- Spreading knowledge through consulting and publishing services, such as development professionals and the Practical Answers App, providing free information to those in need.
- Influencing a wide range of people, by sharing ideas with local and national governments, international agencies and developmental organizations.
The new app gives its users effective solutions, advice and information on a range of different issues. Some of these include water and sanitation, agriculture and energy. For instance, the app can teach someone how to build a sustainable toilet. This will ultimately better his or her personal sanitation system and preventing disease.
In 2015, Practical Action helped 1.2 million people out of poverty. Their approach is to find out what people need help with and allow them access to information that will assist in said projects. Consequently, people living in poverty gain skills and knowledge that otherwise may not be attainable.
Although many poor communities do not have access to smartphones, development practitioners in these areas can utilize the app. These practitioners may work for small, developmental organizations with the intention of implementing projects on behalf of international charities.
The app has special features, making it easy to use in poor communities, especially those in rural areas. It uses less Internet bandwidth and is accessible areas with low connectivity. In addition, there is also an offline feature, with allows users to use the app without access to the Internet or electricity.
The app is simple to use and download. As smartphones become a worldwide phenomenon, their global use will challenge poverty and improve millions of lives.
– Kimber Kraus