7 NPOs that are using tech to break barriers for social change

April 14, 2017 12:00 AM
  • 7 NPOs that are using tech to break barriers for social change

We often bear witness to social causes quietly slipping through the tears in the fabric of our society. They range from child welfare, special education, to clean drinking water, poverty, and women empowerment.

We also see a powerful sense of purpose bringing together people to form organizations that break the fall of such causes and address its very real presence amidst us.

Last year, Vodafone Foundation and NASSCOM Foundation jointly identified a list of seven deserving NPOs who were given Rs.50 lakhs as a grant, in addition to Three lakh Rupees worth of services like Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Short Message Service (SMS), etc. completely free of cost.

Here are the stories of these seven Nonprofits (NPOs) that are making a resounding social impact by way of technological integration:

1) Sankalp Taru

Sankalp Taru walks the green path by way of its application. The SankalpTaru G1 app makes tree plantation convenient through the use of a mobile phone. The app allows its users to plant trees from anywhere in the world within a matter of clicks. A personal connection to the environment is formed by the user as he works with this app in making our planet greener. In addition to this, the app also renders support to poor farmers by increasing the scope of their livelihood. Users can download the app and can be satisfied that they’ve contributed in some way towards neutralizing their carbon footprint (also which the app calculates for them).

As part of their operations, Sankalp Taru has even managed to introduce digital literacy to farmers in villages who plant trees on behalf of app users. These villagers are now well trained to use GPS location for each plant as well as upload images for the users to see.

Download the app here

2) NOHP-NHM Tamilnadu

Oral Cancer Screening has revolutionized the treatment of oral cancer by enabling trained healthcare professionals like Dental Surgeons and Dental Assistants, with GPS enabled devices that give a virtual summary of one's entire dental proceedings in real time. This application makes early detection of oral cancer, and it’s cure much easier.

The device is sturdy and reliable in its functioning. The data generated is stored online, making it readily available to administrators/planners for monitoring. This project is now live in the state of Tamil Nadu and covers over 6900 villages in its operations.

3) Foundation for Ecological Securities

The Composite Land Assessment and Restoration Tool (CLART) is a Geographic Information System (GIS) that empowers rural communities to manage natural resources through effective planning and decision making.

The tool helps village level functionaries to identify, plan and design structures by recharge potentiality, land use, land cover, and slope.

Primarily a decision support tool, CLART evaluates recharge potentiality from lithology, drainage, and slope in addition to land use and land cover. It then provides a color-coded map interface that can easily be understood by illiterate or semi-literate people.

4) Pratham Books

Pratham Books has undertaken a project where it distributes audio stories through mobile phones to underserved children.

The campaign is called ‘Missed Call does Kahaani Suno’ which encourages children to give a missed call to receive a story in response. The idea behind the campaign is to promote reading habits among children by providing them with easy access to high-quality, affordable books in Indian languages.

Pratham Books executed a pilot program in Delhi, which yielded heart-warming results when around 2500 children listened to 35000 stories in just five days!

5) Amar Sewa Sangam

Amar Sewa Sangam has digital apps that enable parents to provide early intervention therapy at home for disabled children. Designed by rehabilitation experts with the help of computer programming centers, these apps focus on topics such as gross and fine motor development, speech and language skills and feeding techniques.

A traveling community of rehabilitation workers train parents on how to provide therapy to their children and to monitor development.

The apps can be used to send vital information to physio/speech and occupational therapists at their center. Therapists will then evaluate these inputs and make recommendations for treatment. Such treatment will be enhanced by way of immediate feedback from therapists to caregivers through video conference using existing satellite internet networks.

In every way, this platform institutes reassurance and support to parents who outface the uncertainties in their journey to ensure the best life for their disabled children.

6) Score Foundation

Project Eyeway was set up by Score Foundation with the intention of making knowledge about life with blindness available to people in need. They created an accessible platform for the blind by using technology solutions as a cloud-based telephony routing system along with the internet.

A national helpdesk with one toll-free number has been set-up as the primary service provider. People from any part of the country can call on this number to speak to visually impaired counselors in local languages.

Over the last ten years, Eyeway has created significant impact through its operations. They recently evolved into six like-minded organizations to better address the needs of the sizeable number of blind people in India.

7) Centre for Health and Social Justice

With the intention of creating a shift in the discourse around the issues of gender, sexuality and reproductive health, the Centre for Health and Social Justice set up a toll-free number which presents the user with audio stories that contribute to knowledge on such topics.

These stories in Hindi were conceptualized around captivating fictional characters and formed into audio strips of 10-15 minutes. Each of these stories is tailored to address widespread social issues and specifically the role of men and boys in initiating a positive change.

A digital IVRS platform has been used to facilitate calls to the toll-free number. While stories are pre-recorded, a two-way communication practice also exists, as the listener needs to choose from several options to move ahead with a story. If he/she has any questions related to issues discussed in the stories, it can be recorded through the toll-free number to be later addressed via SMS, while ensuring user confidentiality.

Solutions for Good

2017 will usher in a key milestone for select NPOs that are looking to walk the technological path in their operations. This year, Vodafone Foundation and NASSCOM will be sanctioning a grant for building technology solutions free of cost, for deserving NPOs. The applications are now open to NPOs for submitting their problem statements for assessment.

We encourage NPOs looking to wire-in technology for a larger impact, to fill in their details here, before 30 June 2017.

Time will tell, perhaps our next article in this space could be about your NPO!

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