The Stream

How tech navigates a food shortage

An app helps Venezuelans track limited staples.

An understocked shelf in a shop in Caracas, Venezuela, 07 June 2013.

In response to food shortages in Venezuela, an Android app called Abastéceme (“Supply Me”) is helping shoppers stay up-to-date on the availability of staple items. Launched on May 29 by engineering student Jose Augusto Montiel, the app relies on crowd-sourcing, initially found popularity in Caracas. It has since been downloaded over 12,000 times across Venezuela. 

Apps like Abastéceme serve an urgent need for Zulia, the country’s most populous state, where purchase limits and price controls have been set on staple items like milk and flour. This new system, which the government is reluctant to call rationing, has been described as an attempt to curb contraband trade across the Colombian border.

App users tweeted about their experiences with Abastéceme.