Girls fly to Google to stop 'the cut'

FIVE SCHOOL GIRLS AGED 15-17WHO WANT TO BE KNOWN AS "RESTORES" HAVE TURNED OUT TO BE THE ONLY AFRICANS WHO WERE INVITED TO GOOGLE HEADQUARTERS FOR TECHNOVATION, TO WIN A FIFTEEN-THOUSAND-DOLLAR PRIZE FOR iCut, AN APP TO END FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION.

T-shirt worn by a gentleman during a social event advocating against the practice at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016.

T-shirt worn by a gentleman during a social event advocating against the practice at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016.

The power and positive effect of Technology cannot be over-emphasized. Human life has been made a lot easier and if possible longer because of the innovative ideas that have been birthed- all thanks to all those with future-thinking mindset. Speaking in relation to this write-up it has been announced that five Kenyan teenage girls burdened with a major health and gender problem in their community have built an app to solve that problem - Female Genital Mutilation.

FGM which is a violation of the human rights of girls and women is still been practiced in many countries today despite the enormous awareness that has been made to curb the practice. According to World Health Organisation, Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, infections, complications in childbirth, increased risk of newborn and other health complications. This act is carried out on females between infancy and the age of 15.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) writes on their website;

An estimated 200 million girls and women alive today are believed to have been subjected to FGM; but rates of FGM are increasing, a reflection of global population growth. Girls and women who have undergone FGM live predominately in sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States, but FGM is also practiced in select countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. It is also practiced among migrant populations throughout Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
A key challenge is not only protecting girls who are currently at risk but also ensuring that those to be born in the future will be free from the dangers of the practice. This is especially important considering that FGM-concentrated countries are generally experiencing high population growth and have large youth populations. In 2010, for example, more than 45 per cent of the female populations in the Gambia, Mali, Somalia and Uganda were under age 15.
— http://www.unfpa.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-frequently-asked-questions

According to the makers of iCut app, "FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide and it is a problem we want to solve. This whole experience will change our lives. Whether we win or not, our perspective of the world and the possibilities it has will change for the better. We call ourselves "Restorers"  because we want to restore hope to hopeless girls," 

They continued by revealing that "Although our community does not practice FGM, we have friends who have been cut. "We were very close to one of them, but after she was cut she never came back to school," and she was among the smartest girls we knew."

iCut app is a simple interface which has five buttons - help, rescue, report, information on FGM, donate and feedback — offering users different services.

Technovation offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Girls ages 10 to 18 learn to identify a problem in their community and create a mobile app solution to address that problem, and then learn how to communicate these ideas and translate them into a fully launched business. The 2017 season was launched in partnership with Google's Made with Code and UN Women. 

Africa has had incredible problem solving innovative ideas which have been birthed but it still stands that there are more problems which with the help of technology, can be solved. We hereby, call on tech experts, both young and old, male or female to come up with such to help with both natural and man made problems.

This is creativity at a very incredible level. We do hope that they win the prize.

All the best "Restores." 

Food industry needs technology too

FOOD WASTAGE IS A GLOBAL CONCERN. SOME APP DEVELOPERS ARE MAKING EFFORTS TO PROVIDE SOLUTION TO THE HUGE PROBLEM.

Samsung food fight commercial / Photo via youtube 

Samsung food fight commercial / Photo via youtube 

Food wastage is a world issue and Nigeria is feeling the weight of this issue till today. With imminent food shortage and news of possible famine starting from the northern part of the country, prices of food around the country has doubled and agricultural experts are pointing to wastage as one of the major root causes of this.

Globally, the food and beverage industry seems to be left behind in terms of availability of tech disruptive solutions like education, entertainment , fashion industries. According to the Sales Manager, North West & Central Africa Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Danfoss, Youssef Zitouni, Nigeria’s food waste has hit $750 billion yearly. In his statement he highlighted that “80% of food produced in Nigeria go to waste.”

A recent study by IGD, a research charity in UK which focuses on retail and food industry issues, has found that consumers are interested in new solutions. According to the study, over 20% of consumers are would like technology to help tackle food wastage.

However, some of such apps already exist, with most focusing on meal inspiration and planning to avoid waste. Direct tackling of food waste remains a more difficult area. Currently, a range of apps exist but are largely restricted by area and market. One good and successful example is FoodCloud, an Irish Charity connecting producers and supermarkets with charities that redistribute unused food. Rarer are apps  aiding consumers themselves. One good example of such rare app is the Dutch based app NoFoodWasted which alerts shoppers of soon-to-be-expire and discounted food items in supermarkets. Today the app has an average of 20,000 users daily. Users can also upload their shopping list and receive alerts when relevant ingredients come online.

Salt and Straw Sample / Photo via fastcompany 

Salt and Straw Sample / Photo via fastcompany 

In the same vein, a popular Portland-based ice cream parlour Salt and Straw, famous for its decadent and often bold adventurous flavors like Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake is drawing attention to food wastage in their recent campaign where they are offering customers new special ice cream options made from ingredients that would have been thrown away. For example, in the special batches, the Spiced Rum and Apple Butter flavour will be made from bruised apples and rum-soaked spices rescued from Portland’s East Side Distillery. The new menu which is estimated to save around 2,000 pounds of food is more or less a tiny drop compared to the gross wastage in the country, but the co-founders are focusing more on the educational aspect of the project; trying to raise awareness about the potential of tapping into the food waste, as a viable business opportunity.

Tomatoes on display in a Nigerian Market / Photo via agricnation.com

Tomatoes on display in a Nigerian Market / Photo via agricnation.com

Though the Nigerian tech industry is flourishing, we need to see more local, relevant solutions tackling real Nigeria issues like how BudgIT is tackling corruption and transparency in governance. More solutions are needed in the areas of security, food distribution, pollution etc.  

Beyond Your Eye Sight

AS THE WORLD WAKES INTO THE POSSIBLITIES OF VIRTUAL REALITY, A NIGERIAN WOMAN IS PUSHING NIGERIAN INTO THE POSSIBLITIES BY SETTING UP A LOCAL VR LAB THAT PRODUCES LOCAL VR CONTENT FOR NIGERIANS.

At the Imisi 3D VR showcase / Photo via medium.com/techcabal

At the Imisi 3D VR showcase / Photo via medium.com/techcabal

Though Virtual reality maybe in its early stages, the world is excited at the possibility it’s offering. 2016 was named the Year of Virtual reality and we saw new exciting VR options manifesting in Games, Education, Movies/Entertainment, Art, Marketing, Training (Military, Driving etc.) and Sports. Judith Okonkwo is opening up a door for Nigerians to see beyond their eye sight into the world of Virtual Reality.

Judith Okonkwo is a Nigerian Tech evangelist, Business Psychologist and Organisation Development practitioner who has worked in Africa, Asia and Europe took up a new project in championing and advancing Virtual Reality and its possibilities right here in Nigeria, this she did by establishing Imisi 3D.

Imisi 3D is a Virtual Reality (VR) creation lab dedicated to growing a community of VR developers in Nigeria through creating relevant solutions using VR, and providing educational and engagement experiences with VR. Optimistic about their goal, Judith sees VR as a tool for creating everyday solutions, in this view she sees VR disrupting the technology narrative in the future.

At the Imisi 3D VR showcase / Photo via medium.com/techcabal

At the Imisi 3D VR showcase / Photo via medium.com/techcabal

Imisi 3D held a Virtual reality workshop on the future of Lagos and a hackathon last October focus on Virtual reality in line with the global VR fever. Currently her goal with Imisi 3D is to put Nigeria and Africa in the fore front of this journey as VR shapes up by raising early Nigerian creators and not just consumers.

This technology has uses that cut across several industry sectors, and the impact on things as critical as learning is profound. With 2016 being described as the year of Virtual Reality, Nigeria must not get left behind.
— Judith Okonkwo

On their website, they state “We are future thinking and committed to being responsible ancestors, creating a better world for today and tomorrow”

Judith Okonkwo / Photo via socialmediaweek.org

Judith Okonkwo / Photo via socialmediaweek.org

A Switch to Safer Power

WHILE NIGERIA IS HOLDING TIGHT UNTO OIL AND PETROLEUM, A YOUNG NIGERIAN HAS WORKED OUT AN ALTERNATIVE POWER SOURCE; NUCLEAR FUSOR.

Steven Udotong, a 16-year-old Junior High Nigerian-American recently became the first Black Student to Build a Nuclear Fusor. Steven hopes to help inspire a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly future for the world. A world less dependent on fossil fuel. On a quest to fulfil his dream he set up a GoFundMe page to seeking to raise $1500 for supplies. In just one month the project exceeded the $1500 mark. With this record-breaking invention Steven is gaining global attention.

What is Nuclear fusor and why is it important?

A nuclear fusor uses electricity to heat charged atoms to a point where nuclear fusion can occur. This happens when lighter nuclei are combined to become heavier nuclei, releasing a large amount of nuclear energy in the process.

Nuclear energy is an alternative energy source to fossil fuels — one that generally causes less harm to the environment. Waste from nuclear energy can be buried underground in safe containers, which is hardly so for fossil fuels. Fossil fuel emit harmful gases into the atmosphere when burned leaving the earth and its habitat harmed. Since 1976, nuclear energy has prevented the dissemination of more than 60 billion tons of greenhouse gases.

Due to the negative ring around nuclear energy as a dangerous weapon of war, there are limited research on nuclear energy, Steven Hope this work will inspire further innovations around nuclear reactors. Though setting up nuclear plants require a lot of financial backing, Steven thinks this should never been enough reason to harm the earth and the future of the coming generation. With more open research around the possibilities of nuclear energy there should significant cut in the cost of setting up and running nuclear plants.

Steven Udotong // Photo via: burlingtoncountytimes.com

Steven Udotong // Photo via: burlingtoncountytimes.com

Passionate and on a mission to save the environment Steven on his Gofundme wrote “The general public is not taking action. But I will.”, exceeding his initial funding quest, he has set up the nuclear fusor’s vacuum chamber, this allows for the installation of a pressure sensor and neutron detector.

With more research on Nuclear power and commercializing it there might be a safe, cleaner future. Steven is taking this bold step for himself and for the rest of his generation. Thank you Steve!

Girls, Help Has Come!

A NIGERIAN LADY IS ASSISTING OTHER YOUNG GIRLS FROM LOW-INCOME HOMES AND IDP CAMPS WITH NECESSARY NEEDS FOR THEIR 'TIME OF THE MONTH'

Photo: sierraloaded.com

Photo: sierraloaded.com

Oghenekaro Omu is a Brand Strategist and Humanitarian who is passionate about the education and health of young Nigerian girls. She became concerned about the doubling increase in the cost of Sanitary pads in the country fuelled by the economic recession in Nigeria and decided to use what she had to make a change; her passionate heart and her social media influence.

Leveraging on social media, Oghenekaro decided to gather up a team of young followers; Gabriella Scott, Cynthia Ndeche, Tolani Thomas, Alexa Chukwumah, Ifeyinwa Mbanugo and Olamide Odukoya alongside other eager volunteers for a crowdfunding campaign which will be used to purchase sanitary pads for young underprivileged girls. The success of the first crowdsourcing campaign was beyond expectation, raising over Eight Hundred Thousand Naira within a week from followers on Twitter alone. Encouraged by the success, She and her team decided to set up an easily accessible page on twitter and Instagram, informing and engaging with donors on state of activities, process and challenges of campaigns - @freesanitarypad.

(Photo:  S.A.N.G )

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

A UNESCO report states that one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during her menstrual cycle due her inability to access affordable sanitary products. Generally, there is a hush-hush cloud surrounding menstrual hygiene in Nigeria which leaves underprivileged school girls to suffer in silence. It is also important to note that not only girls’ education suffer during menstruation, but in their overall health. It is stated that about 70% of all reproductive diseases in developing countries are caused by poor menstrual hygiene – which in turn affect maternal mortality. In places where girls cannot afford sanitary towels, many resort to of using reusable clothes, which most times are often washed without soap or clean water putting the girls and their future at high risk.

Oghenekaro’s Freesantiarypad initiative since January, 2017 has been working not just to distribute free sanitary towels to young girls around the country but also to assist young girls with proper education since sex education and female menstrual hygiene are not adequately discussed in the country. Currently the initiative has sent some sanitary towels to IDP camps in Jos and educated them on sanitary hygiene during menstruation. The initiative also has reached out to secondary schools in Lagos, assisting them with proper education on female sanitary hygiene and free sanitary towels. So far over 1000 sanitary towels have been distributed from January till date.

The initiative runs a sanitary drive monthly allowing donors to donate packs of sanitary pads for subsequent distribution. Gaining recognition off the internet, the initiative now has a representative in Procter and Gamble selling their sanitary products to them at a discounted rate.

(Photo:  S.A.N.G )

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

It is interesting to see how Oghenekaro is using social media as a tool for change from her immediate community to the rest of Nigeria. It takes just the right heart and a viable skill to make a change. In less than three months, 'freesanitarypad' has raised over 1.5 million Naira off the internet which have been used to purchase and distribute sanitary towels to young girls. 'freesanitarypad' is also driving and causing the right conversations around the cost of sanitary pad, hygiene and education for young Nigerian girls. The future of social change is here and it is right in our hands.

To support the initiative contact @freesanitarypad Email: sanitaryaidng@gmail.com. Direct donations can be made HERE.

(Photo:  S.A.N.G )

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

Oghenekaro Omu  via twitter.com/MsNemah/

Oghenekaro Omu  via twitter.com/MsNemah/