A few weeks after the collapse of two dams in Brazil, a crowdfunding campaign was launched to finance an independent environmental report in charge of analyzing the impact of the disaster. The disaster is among the worst environmental disasters Brazil had ever seen. The two dams, which are owned by two mining firms BHP Billiton and Vale, collapsed on November 5 releasing toxic mining waste into rivers and local populations. At least 11 people were killed, 12 others missing and 750 were left homeless.
The researchers behind the crowdfunding campaign said that there was a need to have an independent report for this disaster considering the economic power of the stakeholders involved, and the ambiguous response the public institutions had shown.
The target of the campaign was R$50,000 (US $13,300). After two weeks, this target had been exceeded by 44 percent. Several researchers in developing countries are using crowdfunding to fund various research projects. Besides getting funds, the researchers also using crowdfunding to involve the general public as well as attract sponsors from other sources.
Over US $5 million has been raised from Experiment.com, a US science crowdfunding platform, since 2012 to finance various science projects across the world. Last week, a crowdfunding campaign was closed after Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a Brazilian neuroscientist, raised over R$100,000 ($26,600) within a month to continue her research. Suzanna said that the success of her campaign was a demonstration of the general public’s care for science, and also sent a strong message to the government.
Another science campaign has also started in China to create awareness about the genome of the Bauhinia tree. They hope to raise $10,000. In 2013, Steven McPhee, a primatologist at Florida Atlantic University raised $10,000 via a crowdfunding campaign to purchase equipment for monitoring lesula monkeys in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Steven said that creating a crowdfunding campaign also helps scientists acquire knowledge and skills on how to engage the public. All these projects have demonstrated that more research projects can be successfully financed through crowdfunding.