Social media is creating on-the-ground impact in Africa. Malaria No More announced today the mosquito nets raised during the Ashton vs. CNN Twitter race in April are being distributed to save lives now. A simple tweet that galvanized the Twitter community is helping to provide 89,724 life-saving tools in Senegal.
The "Twitter Net Distribution" kicks off in Saraya, providing 7,000 mosquito nets to villagers in need, with the remaining nets going to African households in Velingara. The distributions are helping close the malaria protection gap in both villages, granting everyone at risk of malaria in Saraya and Velingara universal access to a mosquito net. The campaign will wrap up at the end of March, in time to ramp up for World Malaria Day on April 25, 2010.
Villagers attending the distributions have been learning about Twitter and posing for Twitter frame photos to say "thank you" to the "twitosphere" for providing them with life-saving resources. As photos become available, Malaria No More will tweet them out and post them on its site.
"New media is revolutionizing the way people participate in humanitarian efforts," said Scott Case, CEO of Malaria No More. "Social media platforms like Twitter are changing how people engage in the world, where a simple online action can result in sending mosquito nets to Africa or disaster relief to Haiti."
- Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) challenged CNN (@cnnbrk) to a Twitter race to see which handle could reach 1M followers first. At the time, CNN was most popular. However, Ashton pledged to donate 10,000 mosquito nets to Malaria No More if he got there first, and his pledge catapulted him to success as the race coincided with World Malaria Day 2009.
- "Every 45 seconds a child dies from Malaria. Nets save lives. Support World Malaria Day = www.MalariaNoMore.org" was the most re-tweeted message on April 25, and donations for mosquito nets poured into Malaria No More.
- Small dollar donations from individuals on Twitter effectively matched Ashton's pledge, and with help from "twitteratis", over $500K was raised on Twitter alone.
- As a result of the enormous effort, backed by "twitteratis" including Anderson Cooper (@AndersonCooper), Sean "Diddy" Combs (@iamdiddy), Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah), Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) and thousands of non-celeb Twitterers, 89,724 life-saving mosquito nets are being distributed in Africa starting January 2010.
Ashton Kutcher thanked his followers for their support of the campaign on accepting the award for Favorite Web Celeb at the 2010 People's Choice Awards, "The true reward of the race to a million followers on Twitter are the 90,000 people in Senegal who will sleep underneath bed nets because of the money we all raised through the race."
Photos from the "Twitter Net Distribution" campaign are available at www.MalariaNoMore.org/TwitterNets. Malaria No More also encourages Twitterers to retweet photos from their own accounts.
Malaria No More worked with partners on the ground to make all of this happen. A special "thank you" to the Peace Corps, Tostan and World Vision!