The Second Life of a Cell Phone, and How it’s Saving the World

One of the best ways get rural impoverished farmers and fishers out of poverty: getting a cheap cell phone in their hands. Study after study shows the benefits of having access to a mobile phone so that they can better coordinate farming life and check market prices to find the best places to sell their stuff.

The best thing about this is that it is easy and profitable to help this. At least in the US, your cell provider is required to take your old phones for free, if not pay for them, and even pay for shipping if you want to mail it in. They then sell phones too old to be sold in their stores to e-cycling companies that then refurbish and ship them to the developing world. So the takeaway is – don’t let your old iPhone sit in your desk or chuck it in the trash.

Image by Bilco at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


“An emerging body of research shows that the reduction in communication costs associated with mobile phones has tangible economic benefits, improving agricultural and labor market efficiency”
Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa, Jenny C. Aker, Isaac M. Mbiti

 

” However, when a previously missing informal-financial sector component is integrated into the definition, mobile phone penetration has a positive correlation with informal financial development. ” 
How has Mobile Phone Penetration Stimulated Financial Development in Africa?, Simplice A. Asongua

 

“This study investigates the use of mobile phones among farmers in rural Tanzania in order to supply empirical data on the developmental role of this technology. The results show that the improved access […] has resulted in considerable changes in the entire livelihood constructs, increased opportunities and reduced risks for rural farmers.”
The Developmental Contribution from Mobile Phones Across The Agricultural Value Chain in Rural Africa, Bjorn Furuholt and Edmund Matotay

 

Recycling Disclosure to Maryland Customers: Device recycling is always free. […] and often customers can be paid to recycle. […] If you choose to return a device by mail, shipping is free. Trade in returns are automatically provided free packing for shipment. 
Verizon Trade-ins

 

“You’d be surprised, but these wholesalers find demand for those items around the world — usually in developing countries where there’s not a lot of supply for those products,” said Israel Ganot, CEO of Gazelle. […] Gazelle said about 90% of its devices are resold.
CNN

Circumcision to Fight HIV Transmission

Voluntary male circumcisions (VMMC) in high-risk areas reduce HIV acquisition among men by approximately 60%, for only about $6 per treatment. The evidence is strong enough that the treatment has gotten heavy hitters like the CDC, WHO, the Gates Foundation, and the White House (at least the last one …) onboard.

Kenya made it its long-term goal to circumcise 80% of its male population in 2008. In the first couple years, they circumcised almost 400,000 people. Since then, 13 African countries have followed suit, getting 3 million done from 2008 to 2012, and doubling from 2011 to 2012.

Image Credit: UN AIDS Global Report 2013


Male circumcision provides a degree of protection against acquiring HIV infection, equivalent to what a vaccine of high efficacy would have achieved. Male circumcision may provide an important way of reducing the spread of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
Public Library of Science

 

Kenya’s 4-year VMMC target is to circumcise 860,000 (80%) of uncircumcised males aged 15–49 years by 2013. During 2008–2011, trained clinicians performed 391,383 VMMCs for HIV prevention in Kenya, of which 340,958 (87.1%) were conducted in 260 MOH sites supported by CDC-funded partners, from which the data were obtained
The CDC

 

“Providing men with information about male circumcision and HIV risk can encourage safer sexual behavior among uncircumcised men, and fears that information will lead to riskier behavior among circumcised men may be overstated. The 2008 information campaign led uncircumcised men to adopt safer sexual behavior one year after a short information session, suggesting that VMMC information can have longer-term effects on sexual behavior.”
Jameel Poverty Action Lab

 

While challenges persist in preventing new infections, opportunities to dramatically lower HIV incidence have never been more promising. In recent years, evidence has emerged that antiretroviral therapies can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by as much as 96%, voluntary medical male circumcision by approximately 60% […]
The UN

 

The number of those responding positively is below the ages of 18. Maybe this is due to peer pressure. Once school children are circumcised, they tend to influence others to undergo the procedure. I think there is need to teach everyone a lot about these programmes.
VOA Zimbabwe

Congratulations, World. We’ve Almost Eliminated Poverty

The world is dominated by negative headlines. Single horrible events, like terrorist attacks or natural disasters. But, in the background, millions of people are making slow and steady progress making our world infinitely better than the world of our ancestors. 

One striking example is the global poverty rate. As recently as the 90s, the portion of humanity that lived in extreme poverty was well over half. Now? As of 2015, it’s estimated that fewer than one in ten people suffer through the same meager existence. The biggest gains have been in India and China, but the progress is truly global. 

It’s entirely possible that someone reading this post will see a world within their lifetime where almost no person ever has to wonder where their next meal is coming from.

Image By Jonathan McIntosh (Own work) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


“In East Asia and Pacific the extreme poverty rate fell from 61 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2012, and in South Asia it fell from 51 percent to 19percent (figure 1a). In contrast, SubSaharan Africa’s extreme poverty rate did not fall below its 1990 level until 2002. Based on national growth rates over the past 10 years, the global extreme poverty rate is estimated to be below 10 percent in 2015, a drop of more than two-thirds since 1990.”
The World Bank