- The Africa Rural Connect (ARC), a new online community hosted by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), announced today the third-round winners of its online contest to select the best ideas submitted on how to help solve rural Africa’s greatest challenges in agricultural development. The first- and second-prize winners were from Kenya, while the third prize went to a resident of the United States.
The top two winners were a result of a surge in postings from Kenya after a news article about the contest ran in The Daily Nation last month. With 2,564 visits during the third round, Kenya continues to draw the most traffic to the site outside of the United States. Though most come from Nairobi, some are from the Nakuru, Eldoret, and Mombasa regions.
“It’s inspiring to see how many new ideas we received from Kenya in such a short period of time,” said Molly Mattessich, manager of Africa Rural Connect and a former Mali Peace Corps volunteer. “We think there is a lot of untapped potential in other African countries, and we hope to see those ideas in the next round.”
The third round winners of the ARC online contest are: the Electronic Agriculture in Kenya’s Arid and Semi–Arid Lands (ASAL) Schools; Dehydration of Vegetable Products and Irrigation is the Key for Africa to Take on Drought.
“Billions of dollars have been poured into development projects in Africa over the decades, but they haven’t translated into reducing poverty in any meaningful way,” said Macheru Karuku, who is executive director of Seanet International, a registered NGO in Kenya and the first-place winner of the third round of the Africa Rural Connect online contest. “The ARC approach is very different because not only does it solicit wide support from community members and stakeholders, but it also incorporates ideas and improvements from all over the world, which creates transparency and accountability.”
Powered by a unique software platform called Wegora, the site continues to serve as a valuable resource for discussing issues, identifying problems, and building viable solutions to some of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most entrenched problems.
The ARC online contest supports the growth of these discussions and serves as a platform where people propose plans of action, spurring other ideas. Through November, cash prizes to implement ideas are awarded monthly, with the top three ideas receiving $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. One grand prize of $20,000 will be awarded before the end of the year.
“The next month is the last chance for people to submit new ideas to help rural Africa before the final round in this contest,” adds Mattessich. “We hope to get even more suggestions from people around the world before we choose the overall winner.”
The NPCA is a non-profit, membership-based organisation that serves all returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former staff, as well as Peace Corps family, friends, and supporters.
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