Our SMS land campaign for World Food Day 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 10:18

I have a healthy interest in global justice, and a probably unhealthy interest in all things digital, which means the ongoing exponential rise of SMS and mobile internet across the globe is making me very excited at the moment.

For World Food Day 2012, #WFD2012 on Twitter, we will be experimenting with SMS campaigning, and I would like to share our plans (and hopes) for the day with you.

World Food Day will probably not be in your calendar if you live in a country where access to food isn’t a heavily politicised issue. For many countries though food and land rights are key political issues and often a question of basic sustainability.

When speaking to people in communities impacted by these issues, they will explain that land and food are inextricably linked. It makes sense when you think about it. If you’re a farmer or just have a small plot that sustains your family, that piece of land provides the food you eat, and if you’re lucky, a little extra that you can barter for other essential products.

I’m lucky enough to work with the people in these communities and other ActionAid researchers and policy bods who work to find the root causes of these problems.

People tell us what land means to them, and I'd like to share that with you for World Food Day.

Once the project gets underway, you'll be able to see what our communities are saying on Twitter as it'll be tagged #WFDAA. If you'd like to show your support, please retweet the messages that move you, and help us get the voices from these communities heard!

If you're interested in how the messages get there, please read on.

Now to get a little geekier...

Given the people in poor communities we’re working with are much more likely to have access to a mobile phone than directly to an internet connection, the best way I could think of to get their voices to you, was to use SMS and social media.We’ve a done a variety of projects similar to this before, and even won an award for it recently, but connecting SMS messages to social media is new for us, and as far as I know for the sector.

So the plan is as follows:

  1. A member of one of the communities we work with in Kenya, The Gambia or Nepal sends an SMS message giving us their story of how they are affected by lack of access to land.
  2. One of our ActionAid team then copies their message across from Frontline SMS, to Twitter and it goes out via our campaigns account, @ActionAidVoices.

Simple really!

World Food Day is October 16th and as I write this, we're just starting to see the first messages from communities in Nepal. They will be live on Twitter shortly!

All the tweets will be coming from ActionAid Voices so please follow the action there and please please please retweet!

This is all a bit experimental and we’re totally reliant on you to help us get these messages from people who don’t have access to mass communications tools like social media, to a broad audience.

The messages that are sent will be pulled together to create a compelling case for national governments to take action to help people in the communities we’re working with.

If you want to lend your voice in solidarity to theirs on Twitter, please do, and if you can use the #WFDAA tag we’ll find it a lot more easily! Thank you!