Ureport is a Ugandan network of 195,000+ volunteers who use mobile technology to report on various issues. ODTA mobilized the Ureport network to gather and disseminate information to stop the spread of a devastating infection that is killing banana plantations in the country.
The Banana Bacterial Wilt Disease (BBWD) presents a food security issue by destroying the crop. The BBW is the single most important threat to the banana sub-sector. The disease spreads very fast and if not controlled can cause total yield loss within one year.
New treatments for the disease exist, but farmers are generally not aware of them. As BBW started spreading in Uganda there was a need to quickly disseminate information about treatment options as well as identify the infected areas. Banana is a major staple in Uganda and consumed by over 14 million people – the highest annual consumption of bananas in the world at about 0.7kg per person per day.
ODTA mobilized the Ureport network to gather and disseminate information to stop the spread of BBW. Within the time span of only five days, the project was able to reach results as all 190,000 Ureporters received information describing symptoms of the disease and were asked if they knew any farmers whose plantations or crops were infected with BBWD. Out of the informed individuals over 35,000 people responded in 24 hours thus mapping the spread of the BBWD across Uganda. Nearly 55 percent of those respondents reported knowing farmers who had crops infected with BBWD, and 38 percent said they did not. In addition to these respondents, 17,000 individuals asked for information on treatment options and thus a total of 52,000 individuals received treatment options via SMS.