How can you efficiently provide accessible health education to illiterate women in remote rural areas without electricity? Our answer is: with an audiobook containing more than 400 relevant questions and answers about health, nutrition, family planning and child care in the mother language of those women. And with accessible technology like solar-powered MP3 players and mobile phones. For the first time ever we are able to provide health literacy to every illiterate woman in the world.
Every 6 seconds a child under 5 dies a preventable death. We are ending this by providing health literacy to the illiterate using solar MP3 players.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Every 6 seconds a child under 5 dies. Most of these deaths are entirely preventable. We could save millions of lives by providing illiterate mothers in developing countries with accessible health education. The problem is: we have 500 million illiterate rural women in the world. And most of them are located in remote areas without access to basic infrastructures like paved roads or electricity. The lack of health care and other social services makes rural women and their children especially vulnerable to health problems. This calls for a scalable, technological solution to close the knowledge gap faced by the poorest of the poor, the least literate, the most exploited, and the most marginalized of all social groups in developing countries.
What is your solution to this problem?
The core of our project is the distribution of knowledge using audio contents (MP3) to illiterate rural women. Today we are doing this using solar-powered MP3 players, micro-SD cards, and mobile web applications. But we have structured our contents in a way that will make it usable using technologies like natural language processing. This will enable us to build chatbots and digital assistants for illiterate rural women in developing countries in the near future.
Our audiobook provides vital knowledge, inspiration and tackles stigma. The device is built for group listening allowing the women to build self-esteem and get mutual support. It’s a tool for change.
What is your latest update on your innovation?
The number of smartphone users in developing countries is estimated to grow rapidly – but even if a woman has a device, she may not be able to use it to its full potential. Our new approach called FonAid can solve this problem. It’s a simple, accessible and cheap technology that can provide free audiovisual content to marginalized populations.
FonAid consists of three parts:
(1) structured, localized audiovisual content that has been optimized for the target group,
(2) a web application which streams this content using a simple graphical user interface that is usable both for literate and illiterate users and
(3) a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot which serves the web application (and which is not connected to the internet)
In brief: it’s a small plug-and-play device that can be used anywhere to share audiovisual content on any smartphone. Simple as that.