How combining international aid & social media can transform Africa

Clare George-Hilley Africa

Social media fundraising – Clare George-Hilley in Africa

Social media is impacting life in Africa at breakneck speed, and it is not just the usual suspects Facebook and Twitter. Parliament Street’s Clare George-Hilley explores.

I have participated a number of high profile relief effort campaigns in Kenya, The Gambia working with The Glove Projectand Sierra Leone on the Street Child project. A common challenge for all these humanitarian projects is raising awareness of the issues, securing funding and getting volunteers to help on the ground. But social media is helping to change all this, by providing a new channel for raising awareness that goes towards helping some of the world’s poorest children. These charities make use of Facebook to target supporters and potential volunteers with updates, images and news, and some are using Twitter to engage new potential donors.

Social media sites like TripAdvisor as now also being used for more than just travel information. Log on and you will see these platforms are being used for the coordination and exchange of information about local charities, as I experienced in The Gambia. Many of the volunteers for the local Glove Project campaign have been recruited through browsing the TripAdvisor forums, having been inspired to learn more and get involved. These sites not only demonstrate the new ways these tools are being used, but will inspire a whole new generation of volunteers to support the charities concerned.

Another recent example of where social media can have a huge impact on life in Africa can been seen with the public response to the kidnapping of 230 school girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists. A dedicated social media campaign, including a Twitter feed calling for the girls to be rescued has kept the public engaged and led to public interventions from tens of thousands of people around the globe, along with the President of the United States. The social media campaign has also been instrumental in communicating the strong public opinion to elected officials that action had to be taken, meaning a swift response from many countries concerned at the situation……

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