NPR News tells about “The Pandemic Pushed This Farmer Into Deep Poverty. Then Something Amazing Happened“. The story tells about a farmer in Togo, Africa that struggled to sell his wares at the market. People could not buy it because of income loss due to the pandemic.
The farmer wondered how he would pay school tuition for his children or buy fertilizer for his fields. Then he heard of a program that offered money if he passed the criteria. All he had to do was text a number. Amazingly to him he tried it and it worked. The money helped him pay for tuition and buy the needed fertilizer.
The program used artificial intelligence to help pinpoint who needed help. The government in Togo, Africa knew they had limited funds and wanted to give money to those who needed it the most. Unfortunately, unless they went door to door finding out who needed it the most seemed impossible.
Then they teamed up with the University of California, Berkeley, and the U.S. charity GiveDirectly to use satellites and data to determine the poorest of the poor. The satellites identified the poorest counties, then information about typical cell phone behavior of poorer people allowed them to know who to give money. Through these means those who really needed the money received it.
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