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I've been musing this week on the connection between economics, security/resilience, and 'systems'. It suddenly occured to me tonight that Ushahidi is a tool that may be adaptable to enable systems for more efficient economics as well as in response to disasters.

To begin with, you need to see this video about how a systemic failure in Africa resulted in famine even while there was a food surplus - Eleni Gabre-Madhin: Building a commodities market in Ethiopia

The issue is one of information. Farmers don't know where the customers are or how much they are willing to pay. They don't know the situation today, although the spread of mobile phone technology is alleviating the problem somewhat. But they still have no way to know what the situation will be in the future.

Who else is growing the same crops? How is the weather in other parts of the country? How much of any given crop will be produced by other farmers? And how many people across the country/region will want to buy that crop?

Eleni's solution is to build a commodities exchange, an enormous World Bank-inspired solution. But would Ushahidi serve a similar purpose? Could a network of reporters submit enough information about what is going on every week or month to enable the entire population to forecast what will happen in a few months or years time?

Instead of just mapping crises, why not map food production and rainfall so that everyone knows where the water and food is? Why not map populations and food stocks so everyone knows where the shortages are? Avoid the crisis by knowing what you are likely to need in the future and preparing appropriately.

A measure like this would contribute a lot to food security in cities. Not exactly urban resilience, but I really don't want to talk about yesterday's earthquake and landslides.

Views: 51

Comment by Catherine Gentry on April 27, 2010 at 5:49pm
Excellent suggested use for Ushahidi.


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