Monday, 1 November 2010

iCow rocks

People are sometimes sceptical about the value of tech for development. Sometimes with good reason - a lot of people seem to think tech is some magic bullet that will make all problems disappear. It can sometimes be useful though. The Apps4Africa winners were recently announced. First place went to iCow.

iCow is a voice-based mobile application that lets farmers easily track and plan for the calving and milking cycles of their cattle. Voice prompts and smses are used to keep track of important dates and are cow-specific. Educational information is also included.

Cattle are a key livelihood asset for many people in Africa. A lot of these are small-farmers. Being able to management their livestock to optimise productiveness can have a big impact, particularly because getting the dates right can reduce the chances of aborted pregnancies or poor health of calves and cows. Removing this shock makes farmers and their families more secure and able to focus more attention of building up their assets and preparing for the future.

Technology isn't going to solve every problem, but mobile apps like these, that focus on small, user-friendly, ways to increase the control of individuals over their own livelihoods, are definitely useful.

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