Tracking a Greener Africa: Twitter as social network amplifier

Continuing to play in the Twittersphere, I came across a really interesting service today – called WildlifeDirect. The organisation is evidently making pretty slick use of social media tools. All I recieved was a notification that WildLife Direct was following me, but here I am bringing them to my community.

@WildlifeDirect offers short punchy (140 characters or less) notifications about conservation projects and problems in Africa. Some tweets are designed for fund-raising for particular initiatives. For example:

“DR Congo: $3000 out of $20,000 still needed to protect mountain gorillas habitat from becoming charcoal -Pls Help!”

Other notifications are updates or news about particular projects. WildlifeDirect is taking advantage of me as a 21st century switchboard operator. The model would work equally well for any type of NGO, but the green tech community is definitely leading the charge.

Education is of course critical – and when you read this:

“Kenya: Brilliant blog posts coming from the Mara Triangle. Last week Kimonjino couldn’t even use a computer mouse.”

You just have to follow it to Anti-poaching in the Mara Triangle. I can’t really blame the poachers- they look like they may well have hungry children at home. But WildlifeDirect is concerned with conservation, and its evidently doing a fine job of identifying projects and letting contributions go to those specific initiatives rather than into a general bucket. For example providing firewood to a large refugee camp near a Gorilla sanctuary. IT-enabled trackability is a going to be a big part of conservation efforts globally. I will be keeping track of this – and probably making some contributions. Bringing that together with blogs and videos is really best practice in NGO social IT.

Small things loosely joined, making a difference.
picture of Koikai courtesy of WildlifeDirec. If you have a spare tri-band phone he might like it…


On Africa: The Bush Administration Does the Right Thing

And that’s something you don’t hear from me too often. According to the New York Times the US will now be able to buy local cereal crops when administering aid, rather than shipping US surpluses abroad. Grain dumping overseas is a bad thing- it punishes local farmers by wrecking market prices, and uses up unnecessary food miles. This article explains the problem in some depth.

Small changes can lead to large effects, while unintended consequences are a problem for any policy area. So its very good to see the US administration making it easy to buy local crops at times of extreme need. Buying local helps the economy in ways dropping in grain never could – and we use less oil. This is aid through the grassroots.