Innovation Transforming Children’s Lives in Uganda

A full recording of this event is available here.

To kick off a series of global events on innovation, UNICEF Uganda puts the spotlight on innovations that help children from pre-birth to adulthood:

Malaria, the number one killer of children in Uganda, is detected in a pregnant woman using an android app, without drawing blood.

A baby is born and registered via sms, offering the baby full protection through a birth certificate.

A mother gets advice from a “medical concierge” about her sick toddler, for free.

A kid in school no longer dreads going near the pit latrines at school because a special ‘EMO’ solution keeps them odourless.

A young woman uses U-report along with 250,000 of her peers to make their voices heard and influence policies that affect their lives.

These are just some of the innovations transforming the lives of Ugandan children on a daily basis.


Narrative of a Partnership: Open Source Hardware in Uganda

Every year, UNICEF sends out millions of School-in-a-Box kits for children affected by emergencies. Exercise books, slates, pencils, rulers, and other learning materials enable a teacher and up to 80 students, taught in double shifts of 40, to create an instant classroom – no matter where they are. Originally designed for refugees following the Rwanda crisis of 1994, School-in-a-Box has become the hallmark of UNICEF response in disasters. Twenty years later, in the era of Information Technology, UNICEF is pioneering a new type of digital School-in-a-Box.

MobiStation, developed by UNICEF Uganda, is a solar-powered multimedia kit complete with a laptop, projector, scanner, and speakers, all contained in a portable suitcase. It works by projecting e-books, teaching videos, and other multimedia content in rural schools and health centers, bringing quality learning to marginalized groups. The educational content for MobiStation is developed and recorded by the country’s top teachers in subjects like English, math, social studies, and science.

Uganda, 2013. MobiStation is a solar-powered multimedia kit complete with a laptop, projector, scanner, and speakers, all contained in a portable suitcase. Photo credit: Sara Jacobs, UNICEF Innovation Unit, NYHQ

Uganda, 2013. MobiStation is a solar-powered multimedia kit complete with a laptop, projector, scanner, and speakers, all contained in a portable suitcase. Photo credit: Sara Jacobs, UNICEF Innovation Unit, NYHQ

 

In Uganda, MobiStation addresses some of the biggest challenges of the education system: teacher absenteeism, poor-quality instruction, and lack of textbooks. MobiStation also has significant implications for emergency: it can be taken to affected areas to setup a temporary school or communication center, even in places lacking electricity and Internet connection.

To develop the next generation of MobiStation prototypes, UNICEF recently launched an innovative partnership with a leading Chinese IT company, Honghe Technology Group, which specializes in multimedia audiovisual products and research. MobiStation and the partnership with Honghe were featured at last month’s Global Innovation Workshop in Kosovo, with representation from over 20 Country Offices around the world.

In line with UNICEF’s core innovation principles, all MobiStation technical specifications and testing results will be publicly available for individuals or enterprises to use or adapt according to their needs. This partnership model, where the public and private sectors are working together on open source technology, brings us one step closer to ensuring that children have access to quality education anytime, anywhere.

Written by Mima Stojanovic (UNICEF Innovation Unit, NYHQ, mstojanovic(at)unicef.org) with contribution from Stefan Bock (UNICEF Uganda, sbock(at)unicef.org).


Solar Suitcases make midwives feel comfortable conducting deliveries at night

“I can now support my communities in darkness as I am a master trainer of the Solar Suitcase.” Karamoja

“I can now support my communities in darkness as I am a master trainer of the Solar Suitcase.” Karamoja

Nearly 20 mothers die every day, in Uganda, due to pregnancy-related causes. This is more pronounced in hard-to-reach areas like Karamoja, where maternal mortality rates are at estimated 750 per 100,000 live births.

Despite the recent recruitment of midwives for all Level III Health Centres, the lack of lighting has continued to present a challenge at the work places. UNICEF has responded to this challenge by procuring 50 solar suitcases for sustainable provision of lighting to improve and encourage delivery at health facilities. UNICEF has donated 53 solar suitcases to benefit 37 health facilities in seven districts of Karamoja.

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“We are very excited about this new equipment. We have been using our phones to conduct deliveries at night,” says Night, a midwife from Karamoja. “Unlike other regions, Karamoja region is particularly disadvantaged to the extent that kerosene lanterns are not used in Health facilities because of lack of paraffin in the districts.”

Training midwives to use the innovative suitcase is underway.  “Now that we have a good number of midwives in the district and VHTs (Village Health Teams) mobilizing mothers, we the midwives will feel comfortable conducting deliveries at night with solar installed in our facilities,” she concludes.