Note: This story is part of a series of posts about the Innovation Unit’s most recent round of Design for UNICEF programs, which engage students from diverse backgrounds around priority issues in UNICEF’s work.

How can a 14-year old in Kabwe rural be given an opportunity to be exposed to information on the internet that would be useful, including youth engagement platforms?

How can we better understand and depict the larger socio-economic context that is contributing to the discrimination of young Ashkali girls and discontinuation of their education?

How can nurses and doctors of health centers tend to health problems of a child who is living far away from the center in a timely manner?

These were three of over a dozen design questions developed around the theme of Connectivity for the Fall 2014 Global Design for UNICEF Challenge, which enters its final judging round this week.

The Challenge asked students to look at how technological and social systems are critical for access to information, services, and resources, and then design for specific Connectivity gaps in their local context. These context-specific use-cases, ranging across traditional UNICEF programme areas, were developed in conjunction with each participating Country Office.

The Challenge launched in Fall 2014 at universities in Indonesia, Nicaragua, Zambia, Kosovo, Chile, and Lebanon. For the first time, we had teams of student mentors leading on outreach and organization at their own universities, and contributing to the use-cases that were being developed.

 

1-minute video from ODEyes, one of the top 5 teams.

The Challenge is a great opportunity to engage talented youth in understanding and designing for local issues, with project outcomes that have the potential to become local entrepreneurial ventures or scale through UNICEF channels. Students were able to unite around common global themes while designing for specific barriers in their local context. All project ideas were posted to a common platform, www.unicefchallenge.com, where they generated extensive discussion among hundreds of commenters, including contest participants, UNICEF colleagues, and the general public.

1-minute video from Heroes, one of the top 5 teams

The initial project pool has been narrowed to the top 5 teams, from which 2 global winners will be selected. The winners will receive further support to develop their project ideas locally.

In the long-term, the Challenge and programs like it contribute to the development of sustainable solutions and local economies programming by supporting young people in designing projects that can strengthen local economic and social systems.

Simultaneously, the program has been a great opportunity to build or extend partnerships with local universities, and we look forward to developing this model further to better integrate with local programs and resources.

The project proposals from the top 5 teams can be seen at the links below:
HealthConnect- Quality Health Beyond Barriers (American College, Nicaragua)
ODEyes – Open Defecation Eyes (ITB, Indonesia)
Heroes (ITB, Indonesia)
Integrated Flood Response by SMS (ITB, Indonesia)
We Are Siblings (IPB, Indonesia)
Please also check out the post from Jeff Hall, our Indonesia Lab Lead, on their experience with the Challenge this year, and stay tuned for an announcement of the winning teams!

 

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Related stories:

Design for UNICEF course at Parsons

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