Joint picture. Photo credit: Cori Park, UNICEF Nepal
Joint picture. Photo credit: Cori Park, UNICEF Nepal

A 3-day ChildApp Appathon with tech savvy youth helps develop applications to combat social problems

Closely linked with the Idea Studio, and something that will tap on innovative applications, a few days later, UNICEF Nepal organized the ChildApp Appathon. The appathon seeks to develop innovative web, phone, desktop and game applications that can solve common problems related to children’s issues.

UNICEF staff, Maija Liakka, interacts with one of the teams. Photo credit: Cori Park, UNICEF Nepal
UNICEF staff, Maija Liakka, interacts with one of the teams. Photo credit: Cori Park, UNICEF Nepal

Organized in collaboration with the Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal and Childreach Nepal, the event included 102 young developers, programmers and designers, grouped into 29 teams. These had been whittled down from the original 560 applicants.

These teams participated in a 60-hour app development process to prepare solution prototypes for the problems each group had selected.

Tackling topics as varied as water quality testing to teacher absenteeism, and immunization to applications that aid pregnant women and mothers, the teams utilized their technological prowess to come up with winning ideas.

All the while, they were being coached by experts from banking, technology and child rights agencies who volunteered their time to mentor the teams.

“From what we witnessed today, I believe that the partnership between technology, innovation and aspiring talent, is the right platform to create new solutions to our old problems, and take ordinary Nepalese into the 21st century,” said Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Country Director for Microsoft Innovation Center Nepal.

Team members in action. Photo credit: Cori Park, UNICEF Nepal
Team members in action. Photo credit: Cori Park, UNICEF Nepal

Ultimately, an application with bilingual and voice recognition capability that can test the safety of drinking water and displays the results, with location information on a map, was declared the winner of the ChildApp Appathon.

Conceived by engineering students Milan Karki and Darpan Pudasaini, the app won a cash prize of Nepali Rupees 100,000 (approximately US$1000). This app is noteworthy in a country where less than half of the population have access to clean drinking water.

“For us it was tackling one of the biggest problems facing most Nepalese, which is lack of access to safe drinking water. That is why we designed our application to be user friendly for everybody, even those that cannot read,” said Milan Karki, 22, one of the duo from the winning team.

The team that came second developed an application featuring virtual classrooms, and the third team developed an application that helped track information about birth registration and prenatal and postnatal care via telephone SMS service.

The top five teams will now participate in the Idea Studio mentorship programme at KUSOM and will receive training and investment to turn their winning ideas into winning enterprises.

“You are the agents of change this country has been waiting for, and you can propel Nepal into a hub for high-tech industry that will create decent jobs at home for the members of the new generations,” said Ms. Hanaa Singer, Country Representative for UNICEF Nepal.

By Rabindra Giri
UNICEF Nepal

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