#HackAgainstHunger Hackathon

The Challenge

In today’s world the challenge of achieving Zero Hunger is quite daunting as demographic pressures, increasing urbanization and climate change are transforming the world we live in. Our agricultural and food systems, which includes all the stages from growing to processing food, are evolving rapidly to counter these pressures. The change is already happening, even where we wouldn’t expect: small cities and rural areas.

However, these rural transformations have not happened everywhere. Why not? South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have not seen the same growth as Latin America and East and Southeast Asia. Are the rural transformations of today leaving some behind?

It is surely not too late to change this course of action and ensure rural transformations are more inclusive. By tapping into the potential of food systems and recognising the roles of small cities and towns in integrated rural-urban planning, inclusive transformations are still possible and they will be crucial to eradicate poverty and hunger. (FAO SOFA, 2017)

Agricultural-related challenges like food insecurity, unsustainable management of resources, distressed migration, natural disasters and other problematics like poverty and conflicts make this phenomenon the worst challenge to be overcome by the human being nowadays. As well as hunger, poverty, unsustainable management of natural resources, distressed migration, food insecurity, malnutrition and conflicts are all connected.

While 2.5 billion people derive their livelihoods from agriculture (FAO, 2012), this is exactly where solutions are crucially needed, especially for smallholders and family farmers who made up 90% of the agricultural ecosystem worldwide!

Internet and digital usage has increased rapidly in the last 15 years; the global internet population has grown to 3.4 billion (46% of the world population). More people now have mobile phones than electricity, clean water, or sanitation, and millions are now better connected, increasing access to new or better products and services with a positive impact on their livelihoods and the economy. In 2015, 89% of the world urban population and 29% of the world rural population have 3G coverage. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that the usage rates of 3G and above will reach 38% in 2020 (from 20% in 2015).

However, the impact of these technologies are not all positive, increasing inequality between those who use them and those who can’t widening rewards for people with skills and access, while upping the penalties for those not having them. These inequalities are reflected too between industrialized and agricultural economies, urban and rural areas and the digital divide affects women and youth even more. ITU estimates that there are some 250 million fewer women online than men and the global Internet user gender gap grew from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2016, and is as high as 31% in the world's Least Developed Countries.

At the same time, where the advancement of technology represents a huge potential and offers an innovative approach to tackle global complex challenges, it is fundamental to start focusing on new sustainable agricultural practises, supporting small holders and family farmers and allowing them equal access to land, water, knowledge, technology and markets. Let’s join forces and act collectively toward a better and sustainable future!

Problem Roots

Food produced but not accessible

There is more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone, yet 815 million people go hungry. As reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2), one of the greatest challenges the world faces is how to ensure that a growing global population - projected to rise to around 10 billion by 2050 – has enough food to meet their nutritional needs. To feed another two billion people in 2050, food production will need to increase by 50 percent globally. Food security is a complex condition requiring a holistic approach to all forms of malnutrition, the productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, resilience of food production systems and the sustainable use of biodiversity and genetic resources (FAO SOFI, 2017).

Smallholders’ unequal access to land, water, knowledge, technology and markets

90% of the world's 570 million farms are owned by smallholders. However, these are often not considered as main players in the agricultural sector and investments in small-scale agriculture and technologies for the rural poor have been neglected. Their ability to benefit from the increasing demand in agricultural products is hampered by limited access to agricultural inputs, services, literacy, technologies, sometimes combined with poor infrastructure.

Conflict, natural disasters, food crises and climate change affect disproportionately food-insecure regions

They reduce food availability, disrupt access to food and healthcare and undermine social protection systems, pushing many affected people back into poverty and hunger, fuelling distressed migration and increasing the need for humanitarian aid. Approximately 25% of the damages caused by natural hazards and disasters affect agriculture, and the agricultural sector absorbs about 80% of damage and losses caused by drought (FAO, 2015). On average, the proportion of undernourished people living in low-income countries with a protracted crisis is between 2,5 and 3 times higher than in other low-income countries (FAO, 2017).

Negative Impact


In addition to an increase in the proportion of the world’s population that suffers from chronic hunger (prevalence of undernourishment), the number of undernourished people on the planet has also increased to 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015. The food security situation visibly worsened in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South Eastern and Western Asia. This was most notable in situations of conflict, in particular where the food security impacts of conflict were compounded by droughts of floods, linked in part to El Niño phenomenon and climate-related shocks.

Overweight among children under five is becoming more of a problem in most regions, while adult obesity continues to rise in all regions. Multiple forms of malnutrition therefore coexist, with countries experiencing simultaneously high rates of child undernutrition and adult obesity. (FAO SOFI, 2017)

Without proper nutrients, the brain is not able to develop properly. Hunger makes it difficult to concentrate on anything, especially for children. About 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone. (World Food Program)


The number of international migrants during 2015 reached 244 million persons worldwide, 150 million of which were migrant workers and 21 million refugees. In 2015 65.3 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence and human rights violation. Of these, 40.8 million were internally displaced persons (IDPs), 21.3 million were refugees and 3.2 million were asylum seekers (UNHCR 2016). It is worth nothing that around 10% of all international migrants are actually refugees. Internal migration is even larger, reaching 763 million according to 2013 estimates. It is estimated that climate change could create up to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050.

The migration flows can place additional pressures upon food supplies and our capacity to enhance environmentally sustainable agriculture in encumbered regions.

Reductions in food loss and waste, which account for about one-third of the global food supply, could help conserve resources and feed growing populations. In this context, it is necessary to transform food and agriculture systems shifting to more sustainable and diversified consumption and production patterns.

Natural hazards and other crises - droughts, floods, earthquakes, plant and animal diseases, pest infestation, market shocks, and conflicts - affect farmers’ lives, agro-food systems, agricultural production and productivity in regions all over the world. Climate change is projected to amplify many of these issues.

Need for Innovative Solutions

Multiple transformations of agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resources management will be needed if we would like to tackle the multiple challenges before us and realize the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people and the entire planet.

Prosperous rural economies provide alternatives to rural people who see migration as their only chance of escaping poverty and hunger. It gives them other choices. Attaining a zero hunger and poverty-free world will depend on how rural areas develop in the coming years and how we support this paradigm shift in both thought and resources. (SOFA, 2017)

Let's build a future together, where rural poverty is eradicated and let's create a world where sustainability and resilience are the main drivers of our agricultural and food systems.

We Want You

We Want You to develop an innovative digital solution to enhance food security and end hunger in middle-and lower-income countries, that can preferably benefit the small holders and family farmers. Nevertheless, we also encourage other types of solutions/ideas that can take the form of the following examples.

digital services & applications (not only mobile):

An application to deliver information and give advice to farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dwellers based on weather and prices forecast as well as early warning action using national or global databases.

artificial intelligence:

A solution that helps a fisher to identify fish species and recognize diseases using artificial intelligence and image databases and allows crowdsourcing exchanges.


An algorithm or application based on data analytics able to make forecasts about market prices and/or weather conditions, etc.

web application:

An application that supports financial transactions using blockchain mechanisms to cash-based transfer for persons affected by natural disasters or other hazards.

Areas to Explore and Available Information

To give you some ideas, you can explore the various areas below. Note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Awareness raising

  • Preventing risk of natural disasters and food chain crises
  • Avoiding Food Loss and Waste
  • Cropping and breeding best practices
  • Increasing incomes receiving tailored information


  • Taking best decisions based on advisory services
  • Finding clean and plentiful water sources
  • Creating agricultural and financial incentives to drive behaviour change
  • Empowering women and youth


When? Sunday 18th and Monday 19th March 2018
Where? ITU Headquarters in Geneva

Sunday 18th, March
1st Hacking Day

09h00 : Registration & Breakfast

09h30 : Kick-off Meeting:

  • Welcome
  • Motivational Talks
  • Introduction to Hackathons
  • Structure, Goals and Rules
  • Group Picture

10h00 : Hacking

13h00 : Lunch

14h00 : Hacking

18h00 : Midterm Review

19h00 : Dinner

20h00 : Hacking

Monday 19th, March
2nd Hacking Day

08h00 : Breakfast & Hacking

  • Preparation of Final Pitch

13h00 : Lunch

14h00 : Hacking

18h00 : Finals

  • Welcome words
  • Keynote speakers
  • Team presentations
  • Closing and wrap-up

19h30 : Apero

Important logistical information

For participants who need a visa to come to Switzerland, it will be required for you to apply as soon as possible, at least 4 weeks before the #HackAgainstHunger/Geneva. Please note as well that you will be asked to provide documents, such as a copy of a valid passport, a valid student card and/or a letter from your school.


More information on the exact locations, dates and logistical details about #HackAgainstHunger/Africa will be provided soon.


More information on the exact locations, dates and logistical details about #HackAgainstHunger/Caribbean will be provided soon.

Timeline and Selection Process

Find more specific details under each #HackAgainstHunger agenda.

*More information on the exact locations, dates and logistical details about #HackAgainstHunger/Africa and #HackAgainstHunger/Caribbean will be provided soon.

WSIS Forum 2018
International Telecommunication Union - ITU
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - FAO
Impact Hub Geneva

Presented by WSIS Forum, organized in association with ITU, FAO and Impact Hub Geneva.

Learn More About Hackathons

Hackathons, also known as hackfest or hack day, are great tools to bring diverse groups of people with different backgrounds together to collaborate on specific subjects. Every hackathon includes the following phases :

  • A quick team building exercise to form or consolidate diverse teams.

  • A preparation phase including topic exploration, own research and first brainstorming of ideas.

  • Hacking time with the goal to build or draw a prototype.

  • A wrap up including the classification of the results by experts, presentation of the outcome of past.