Hacking hunger together!
7 May 2018 - techteam

Food is definitely a hot topic nowadays. But when it comes to sustainable agriculture and securing food supplies, there are still some challenges ahead! That’s why Impact Hub Geneva together with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) decided to seize the opportunity and to organize the #Hackagainsthunger hackathon

International solutions meet local ones

The Hackagainsthunger, part of the WSIS Forum 2018, the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community, was the first global hackathon hosted by the Impact Hub with teams pre-selected from three regional hackathons in the world. Winners from Rwanda, the Caribbean (Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago) and Egypt, were invited to come to the international edition in Geneva last march.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 09.32.18The challenged they faced? How to develop innovative digital services to enhance food security and end hunger in middle-and lower-income countries.

It was definitely a global success, with over 240 applications, 80 selected participants and in total 33 different nationalities from four different continents! In this blog an insiders view from Cynthia Kracmer (picture left), who coordinated the event on behalf of the Impact Hub.

The ideas

Cynthia: “Only in a few months time, the Impact Hub formed and pre-selected eight teams, with each 3-9 people from different disciplines. When the final two-days hackathon on the 17th of March in the ITU building took place, we supported the teams in the process of ideation while helping them to build on their future network.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 09.33.54It was cool to see all the different and diverse backgrounds of the participants. It varied from science, engineering and agriculture experts and students to policy experts and entrepreneurs working on start-ups. And their ideas were all so different! Take for example the Jamaican team. They worked on a technical solution that allows decision makers to view farming related data in a single dashboard. Weather predictions, production stocks, these indicators can have a huge impact for a country. And what about McFly, created by a Chinese team that developed a scientific algorithm to realize precise monitoring and variable in spraying pesticide. All to end overuse of pesticides in the food!

It was exciting to see the ambitiousness of the projects, although all teams discovered in the end that they had to start small to succeed and then grow. The team of experts helped the participants a lot in redirecting them and to make them study their ideas even better.

‘Lending experts from other teams during the hack proved to be a huge success. Teams could share their needs with others and borrow experts from other teams to help them a bit further in the process. ‘

A long-term hackathon

I think for all teams it was a great learning experience. The participants established a lot of new contacts and got to know the Geneva network a lot better. Organizing events like this can sometimes be a bit stressful, but when you see the gratitude of the people, it’s so rewarding. A hackathon is a great format to make people meet each other. It’s a great experience for people to participate.

In the near future we would love to work on even more sustainable solutions and to make sure we not only generate ideas but also move forward with them. The Sustainable Living Lab could be more of a long- term hackathon in this perspective. “