“The experience has been great and we hope to continue to deepen our understanding of the value of technology…”

ActionAid won the Innovation Award 2012 for their visionary use of mobile phones in Kenya – the same year they celebrated their 40th anniversary. ActionAid delivers monthly food supplies to over 70,000 people, the phones provide timely information to the community in Isiolo, a remote part of Kenya badly affected by the drought.

Knowing when food distributions will arrive means children no longer have to leave school to tell parents the trucks are on the way. Sharing cattle prices make it easier to buy at the right price. The two-way system also provides immediate feedback when deliveries are made, which means that agencies have up-to-date data about local needs.

We spoke to Airlie Taylor from ActionAid’s International Emergencies and Crises Team to find out about life since Tech4Good 2012:

1.       What made you decide to enter the awards last year?

I initially saw the advert for the awards on Twitter and thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase the achievements of ActionAid’s project using mobile phones to link people affected by drought in Kenya with ActionAid staff and others.  The idea of gaining formal recognition for the success of the project from an Award that celebrates using technology for good was a real incentive.

2.       How did you feel from being shortlisted, to winning your category? 

We were very excited to be shortlisted in the Innovation Award category, but knew that winning would be difficult as the competition was so stiff.  My colleagues attended the awards ceremony on my behalf as I was on leave at the time, but I was hugely excited to receive a text saying we’d won!  It was a huge surprise, but a really pleasant one!

3.       Where do you keep your Tech4Good trophy?

We took the trophy out to ActionAid Kenya as part of a training course that was scheduled to take place in Nairobi following the awards.  The trophy was presented to colleagues in ActionAid Kenya’s office in Isiolo who were critical in implementing the project with the support of colleagues back in the UK.  They were thrilled to receive the award.  

4.       How did you find the Tech4Good Awards Experience?

It was great to see the success of ActionAid’s project acknowledged by the Tech 4 Good Awards, and be able to share our work with others.  The experience has been great and we hope to continue to deepen our understanding of the value of technology to facilitate two way communications in disasters.

5.       Has life changed for ActionAid since winning an Innovation Award? 

The award has helped spark interest across the ActionAid federation (we work in 45 countries) of the potential of technology to improve communications between ActionAid and communities we work with who are affected by disasters, and in doing so become more accountable to them.

6.       What’s new for ActionAid in 2013?

Lots!  With regard to using technology to improve two way communications with disaster affected communities, we’ll be working with colleagues around the world to explore new opportunities, looking for external partnerships and hopefully rolling out one or two projects modeled on the Isiolo project which won the Innovation Award.