Using an SMS to fight human trafficking in Southern Africa

SAAHTT has always been fascinated by the potential of ICT to fight trafficking in persons in Southern Africa. There has been quite significant buzz around the idea that the next decade will be the ‘mobile decade’. The smartphone has brought the internet to the phone. These represent exciting times for Africa and for agents for social change in particular. Mobile penetration in Africa has been on an upward trajectory and mobile access has improved communications in the rural areas of developing Africa in a way that could not be imagined. Coupled with this is the ever increasing internet penetration in countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

This is of intrigue to modern day abolitionist organisations like SAAHTT who seek to harness all effective tools to fight the scourge of human trafficking in Southern Africa. The more networked people are the easier it is to share information. This information could be on raising human trafficking awareness, receiving information on potential trafficking cases, sending updates of SAAHTT anti-trafficking activities among a host of other activities. The concept of Technology for Development (tech4D) has always held so much promise particularly due to the fact that mobile telephony innovations have advanced to the stage where there are now ‘ridiculously’ cheap software solutions that allow for mass SMS based communications two way.

The prospect of deploying mobile technology, that does not require internet connections, to fight human trafficking is a remarkable thought that can be actioned by acquiring the right tools and mobilising the necessary resources, which aren’t much. This story on the Kiwanja blog explores how other non-profits have begun to use SMS based tools to fight human trafficking.

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