All over the world, people are coming up with new and innovative ways to help shut down the Ebola crisis that is still affecting Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. We’ve already shared stories about how people in West Africa are responding, and now a start-up in Ghana has come up with another great idea: Bitcoin Against Ebola.
If you don’t already have some bitcoins in your virtual wallet, this is the internet currency that bypasses the banks and can be sent around the world quickly and cheaply.
Bitcoin Against Ebola have teamed up with three charities in Sierra Leone who are providing essential services to communities affected by Ebola, and who rely on donations to operate.
Build On Books are supporting children who are quarantined alone at home, often when parents have died or been taken to a treatment centre. They visit regularly with food and water, and to monitor the children’s temperature and check for signs of Ebola.
LunchBoxGift was the idea of Memunah Janneh, a Sierra Leonean living in the UK. They started providing freshly cooked meals to poor families forced to go hungry during city lockdowns, and are now delivering meals to patients in Ebola treatment centres who don’t have families to bring food in for them.
Sierra Leone Liberty Group are made up of young people who are also supporting Ebola quarantined homes by delivery supplies of soap, disinfectant and gloves, as well as food.
Once you donate your bitcoins, they will be converted into Sierra Leonean Leones and deposited in your chosen charity’s SMS mobile money accounts, which are more practical and popular than traditional bank accounts. The funds can then be turned into cash or used to pay for goods.
Using this process means Bitcoin Against Ebola charges just 2% per transaction, whilst other money transfer services can charge up to 12%. And, your donation can arrive in as little as 30 minutes, and be put to work straight away.
Ebola needs a large scale emergency response from the international community, as well as long-term investment in the health systems that would have prevented the outbreak reaching the level it has. That’s why we’re calling on the leaders of every country to step-up their response.
But digital innovations like this one are also making it easier to support local charities doing targeted work.