Mozambique generally has two seasons: wet and dry. When it rains, it can flood; when rainfall is scarce, crops dry up. Civil engineer Aline Okello saw how this pattern affected local farmers, who see their crops flooded year after year only to lose out again come the next big drought. So she decided to help.
After studying water science and management in the Netherlands – another low-lying country prone to floods – Okello began to understand Mozambique’s problems in a new light.
“I was seeing all these windmills, all these wheels pumping water, and I thought, ‘My God, I didn’t know about this [technology] and I’m a civil engineer,’” she says.
Okello considered the technologies on hand in Mozambique, including those available to the poorest communities, and realised they generally all have access to the same modern-day tool. “They won’t have water or electricity, but they will have a mobile phone – often a smartphone – and apps like WhatsApp,” she says.