GEO Indigenous Hack4Covid: Nekoto is Helping Kenyan Farmers Access Local Markets from Home

Image by Africa Tours

Wilhelmina Nekoto was one of the 146 participants from 33 countries who participated in the GEO indigenous Hack4covid hack-a-ton In June 2020. Nekoto was one of the runner-up at the end of the event, trumping over odds to emerge. 

The entry submitted by Wilhelmina Nekoto of Namibia was the development of an app; the Ondjila ya Sankoni Journey to Market App that will allow the Samburu Tribe in Northern Kenya to sell and purchase livestock without having to go to the market.

Wilhelmina Onyothi Nekoto is a computer scientist with a bias for data sciences within the commercial and scientific sectors. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences.

Wilhelmina felt uncomfortable seeing indigenous farmers having to walk miles to sell their produce. The Samburu tribe can be found in the Samburu County of Northern Kenya and are pastoralists who are highly dependent on livestock and gain from the sale of farm produce for survival. They raise cattle, camels, goats, and sheep. Due to the COVID-19 lock-down restrictions, they cannot access markets to sell livestock, causing severe food and economic insecurity among the community. As market places are closed, economic hardship has been on the increase. The selling prices of livestock are getting lower as people can’t sell cattle at the right price. For example, the cost of a cow used to be around $400, and it sells for less than $200. When markets are open, it usually takes a few days to walk to the closest market. They typically would travel around 400km to reach the market without having the certainty of being able to sell or purchase livestock. They would sometimes walk the same distance back home without making any sale.  

The need to access technology to sell their livestock and farm produce at the right price without having to walk 400km to an uncertain market space became urgent.

The application imports data from the Earth observation data and delivers spatial information to local farmers in an effective and stress-free way. She took a page out of Galileo’s satellite and the ease with which everyone could access the information remotely from anywhere in the world.

It was designed to minimise the rigorous work of the indigenous farmers and livestock traders and allow them to ply their trades with ease. Asides farming, the project also considers the economy, such as logistics as a medium between farmers and buyers.

Through various social media platforms such as Telegram and WhatsApp, buyers and seekers would be able to create a virtual market where all negotiations would take place. This tool will also allow the community to sell and purchase livestock at the right price and remove the risk of not being able to sell or purchase livestock once markets reopen.

There are plans to ensure the project’s longevity and effective implementation to ensure that the app is used as intended.

The principal shareholders include community leaders and farmers. The farmers will make a boundary of their farm using their mobile phone and upload the data to the Galileo satellite data, which would then be used to design a unique farm boundary polygon for each farmer. Then the community leaders will help confirm that the farm boundary information submitted by the farmers is accurate. After verifying the boundary information, it can later be submitted, uploaded, and used in the app.

Building on this app’s success, other indigenous communities across other nations facing the same challenges would be able to make use of this tool after a few adjustments had been made to it. They’ll need to input their corresponding boundary data and make their own culturally acceptable map to help improve the lives of people in the area.


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