Skype is a VOIP service that allows for free voice calls between users and cheap calls outside the Skype network. Skype is bringing cheap telephone service to many places around the world and Malawi need not be and exception. There are many uses for the service. For instance, if Skype was loaded onto all the internet cafe computers in Malawi, locals and visitors could talk to family and friends all over the world without the hassle or cost of a phone card.

In the case of my local church, the many teachers who are serving at African Bible College could easily use the computers on campus to keep in touch with family and supporters. It's cheap as free! Anyway, check it out by clicking the side banner and brainstorm some ideas.

My Skype ID is RandomAntics.


Laptops for Malawi?

When I went to Malawi, I left behind a few crank powered flashlights. They were designed to work without batteries and for one minute of cranking put out 45 minutes of bright light. Crank powered devices are ideal for the world's poor since access to power is often limited and batteries can be prohibitively expensive. Now MIT has developed a sub-one hundred dollar notebook computer that incorporates handcranks for power.
There is so much that could be done with these computers. Every school in the world could be outfitted with at least one computer for a relatively minimal cost. If anyone is interested in brainstorming ways to get these devices to Malawi, let me know in the comment section. I am willing to start something.


World Bank Infusion of Funds

Malawi will receive a quick boost of US 30 million to help battle the famine. The World Bank has praised the Malawi government as "forward thinking" in view of their efforts to combat hunger. Thankfully, this complement is being backed with cash.
The Bank is mobilizing $53 million in new IDA resources and reallocating existing operations to address both the immediate food shortage and to help restore production levels for next year.

This includes a $30 million quick disbursing operation, prepared in record time, to help the government cover foreign exchange needs, so that the cost of maize and fertilizer imports does not harm growth prospects over the next year.

A reallocation of $7 million under the ongoing Malawi Social Action Fund also plays a part in the social safety net to protect the most vulnerable households during the food crisis by helping them to purchase inputs for the coming crop season and feed their families during the current cycle. The Bank is also adding $15 million to the planned Rural Livelihoods and Irrigation Project to sustain the safety net measures over the medium term.


Help From Abroad

The United Kingdom is donating more than US 9 million to alleviate hunger in Malawi. A sizable portion of the funds will help UNICEF feed children under five. In addition, the U.K. will be advocating for a world fund to deal with similar humanitarian crises.


Maize Prices Effect Aid

The high price of maize in the African market will likely shrink the effectiveness of planned food aid to Malawi and surrounding nations. Projections made for the famine were based on maize prices already equal to the present market value, and likely well below the price in coming months. Reuters quotes the World Food Program in a recent article.
The fact that prices are already rising dramatically - months ahead of the lean season - means that many people we assumed would be able to fend for themselves will need food aid earlier. It can take up to four months to move food to the region, so donations are needed urgently if we are to reach the neediest before the beginning of the lean season.

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