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The Famine Hackathon for the 50/50 Project

by Farrah Bostic on August 23, 2011

Here’s the problem:

There is a massive drought in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. People are starving. The crisis is so bad, people are fleeing their home countries to seek refuge in neighboring nations where conditions are not much better. Corruption prevents some aid from reaching the people who need it most. Bottom line: they need water, and they need food.

Put more simply, here’s the problem:

It’s easy to feel defeated by this. After all, we’re talking about the weather, and governments in lands far from our own, and people we’ve never met – tens of thousands of them. The level of abstraction for those of us in the West is almost insurmountable.

But there are people who have decided to set the abstraction aside and do something concrete. London digital service design agency Made by Many have partnered with social innovation lab Good for Nothing to develop a platform for raising money and aid for those affected by the crisis in East Africa. But they went much farther than just marketing for a fundraising initiative.

The result is the 50/50 Project: a platform to develop and deploy 50 fundraising projects in 50 days, starting August 27 with 5-10 projects and culminating on World Food Day, October 16, with 50 working fundraising projects, and be well on the way to reaching the goal of raising at least £1 million. Ideas for projects are being anonymously submitted to http://good.byideas.co.uk, and a public beta of the 50/50 platform should go live sometime this week with all the basic pages up for creating, selecting or starting a project.

Digital agencies and startups in London are giving their free time to this. Members of the NYC start-up and Lean Startup movement have offered support. The BBC have given it modest coverage. And while the project is heating up in support from many quarters, more help is needed.

The UK donations will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee. The US donations will go to the International Rescue Committee.

Here’s what you can do:

  • If you would like to participate in the Hackathon, please vote for your preferred days (these will be Friday night to Sunday evening hackathons, just like a Startup Weekend or others you may have heard about). The poll for selecting a day is here: http://doodle.com/ikpm6dqdi4s6bgkg.
  • Sign up for the role you’d like to participate in here: http://www.doodle.com/3zcrtsvu2fez6biq This will help us to figure out how to staff to have enough devs – because there are never enough devs. :) If none of these roles fit you, but you’d still like to participate, email me and we’ll make it happen.
  • Want to sponsor the hackathon? We’d rather have stuff than money for the Hackathon. Offer us space, or pay for our sandwiches and sodas. Donate post-its or sharpies. Email me
  • Want to write about The 50/50 Project, email me and I’ll put you in touch with the people at Made by Many.

So please – tweet about this! Facebook it! Post it to your circles on Google+. Email everyone you know.

And thanks.

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