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USAid awards announced for top applications for 'Mobile Solutions for Development'

Southeast Asian participants have proven how innovative mobile applications can change lives for the better, politically or otherwise, at a recent regional contest.

The top winner of Mobile Solutions for Development Award from the USAid's Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA)-organised contest has created an application that reach out to voters in the remote parts of Cambodia.

Developed by the Open Institute, this application has set up a variety of effective and innovative interaction voice response (IVR) applications for civil society organisations in the human rights, governance and health sectors. The IVR platform is connected to all mobile operators in Cambodia and is accessible to most callers in the country, including those living in a so remote corner. An example of their services is the Election Hotline that contains information on how, when and where to vote; voters placed over 600,000 calls to the platform in one election cycle.

"This is an excellent example of the innovative ways in which mobile solutions can help to improve development outcomes and empower communities with better information," said Michael Yates, USAID Asia Mission Director.

He added that, "Asia needs more innovative solutions like this and needs to bring them to scale, working with partners in the public and private sectors - to bring about more effective development programs."

The Open Institute has planned use the award funds to develop an IVR system that will give the largest minority in Cambodia - Phnong - access to 50 articles of Cambodian Land Law in their native language, enabling them to understand their legal rights relating to land ownership.

The second prize went to 8villages and its rural social networking platform that allows smallholder farmers and agribusiness to share user-generated content, such as seeds offers, harvest offers, and advice through peer questions and answers. The application generates revenue through advertising and market analytics for the private sector, and through a "freemium" model in which

farmers receive basic functions but can opt to pay for additional features.

8villages has 4,000 users in Indonesia with a weekly SMS traffic of 300,000. 8villages will use the award funds to strengthen its telecommunication servers to expand to the Philippines. The three other finalists were: A-Eye, developed by King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, which supports eco-tourism and forest management; Commcare, developed by Dimagi, which provides survey and case management tools for community health and extension workers; and the Fansipan Challenge, developed by FHI 360, a mobile app to encourage HIV testing and care by collecting points and prizes for real world actions.

USAID's Mobile Solutions for Development in Asia Award

winners were announced at the Mobile Solutions Forum on January 6 in Bangkok. - The Nation




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