Sunday, 8 December 2013

UNICEF Innovation: Innovate for children

UNICEF has always been committed to innovative programming to reach children and young people all over the world, whether they are in remote areas or fragile situations, to protect and advance their rights in society. Innovations are a cornerstone of the organization’s work - whether it was the first midwifery kit developed in the 1950s to help women in developing countries give birth in safer conditions; the Oral Rehydration Salts for children with Diarrhoea; the World Summit for Children in the 90s or the Rapid SMS platforms in recent years; UNICEF through innovation has created new ideas and solutions for children.

Building on this legacy, UNICEF has been developing an ambitious network of Innovation Labs, recognizing that to provide solutions that are quick, viable and sustainable, there must be a thorough understanding of the complexities, challenges and opportunities that exist at the grassroots level. By involving the local community and building collaborative networks within the country, UNICEF aims to help and support the local adaptation and use of new technologies and approaches to identify and solve problems and provide solutions.

UNICEF Innovation Labs are dispersed all over the world. They are physical spaces that allow for collaboration between young people and private sector, academia, technology specialists and civil society. In countries like Kosovo, Burundi, India and Uganda, the Labs have become spaces that enhance and encourage youth participation and involvement in the life of their society. UNICEF Indonesia is now starting an Innovation Lab in the Jakarta Office. It will apply the Lab principles, processes, and protocols to provide a space for innovative ideas to be conceived, created, tried out and tested - both technical and otherwise - to generate creative solutions that can improve the lives of children and young people in the country.

Empowering youth and children to solve the problems affecting their lives.

Indonesia is a young nation with approximately 33% of its total population (237 million) comprised of children (81.3 million) and 17% (41 million)[1] young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

The potential of young people to affect their country is immense. This impact is already being felt as young Indonesian entrepreneurs are helping to fuel the country's economic boom. A large number of young Indonesians who have studied abroad are opting to return to their country and explore opportunities domestically. Initiatives like Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) are youth led, addressing the problem of access to collateral for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and encouraging banks and government to look at innovative methods of financing and sustainable development.

Mobile phone technology is also playing a role with high levels of social media and cellphone use by young Indonesians. According to Brand 24, an online media monitoring company, more and more private sector enterprises are using social media channels as an important means to reach out to and engage with both new and existing customers, a large segment of whom are young Indonesians. In 2013, Facebook revealed it had 64 million active users in Indonesia[2]. Twitter is also a very active platform with 29 million Indonesian users[3].

Even with the fast pace of development, millions of children and young people have yet to experience the benefits. Young people are important assets in socio-economic development, particularly in a fast growing economy like Indonesia. Addressing challenges such as lack of quality higher education; lack of proper sanitation facilities resulting in open defecation; children out of school; limited livelihood opportunities for young people; presence of child headed households; child marriage; HIV & AIDS; and violence among others requires innovative approaches, ideas and solutions. It requires young people to be involved, to create and participate in solving these problems that affect their lives.

UNICEF Indonesia's newly established Innovation Lab seeks to create the connections and space to best allow young Indonesians to think through new ideas and solutions. The Lab will create an environment that encourages them to contribute positively and participate in shaping the present and the future of their environment, society and country.

Indonesia Innovation Lab Initiatives

The Indonesia Innovation Lab is currently developing three core innovation initiatives.

U-Report Indonesia pilot

Theme: Youth engagement.

One of the top priorities for the Lab is to encourage young people to become engaged and express opinions so that they are positive and active agents in their society. The Innovation Lab will trial a social media prototype version of U-report here in Indonesia as a first step. U-report is an initiative developed by the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Lab. It is an open source system built from Rapid SMS technology that sends poll questions to young people and analyzes their responses to create an information loop with government and development partners. The platform provides a meaningful way for children and young people to communicate about specific issues that concern their lives.

Come join and add your voice here: U-Report Indonesia

Emergency Kit for Adolescents

Theme: Capacity building for adolescent and children's issues for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response.

As Indonesia is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, it is critical to ensure that the community is well prepared for disasters and that response mechanisms are quick, effective and organized. Adolescents often fall between gaps in programmes and interventions during emergencies and are completely neglected (as the focus is traditionally on younger children). At the same time, they are one of the most vulnerable groups in any given emergency as they face challenges like violence (including sexual violence), longer lasting trauma, lack of education or recreational activities. The Emergency Kit for Adolescents seeks to help adolescents to be a part of any emergency response not only as beneficiaries, but most importantly as actors. The Innovation Lab is currently supporting a pilot of an “Adolescent in Emergencies Kit” with two youth organizations MDMC and PMI in two communities in Jakarta - Kampung Melayu and Rawajati. For more you information, take a look at our Facebook project page: Lingkaran Remaja

The Global Design for UNICEF Challenge

Theme: Student and Academic engagement.

The UNICEF Indonesia Innovation Lab is working to develop long term partnerships with leading universities and their students by bringing the Global Design for UNICEF Challenge to Indonesia. The Global Design for UNICEF Challenge is an academic competition that asks students to develop innovative solutions to pressing development problems. It brings together the energy and creativity of students with UNICEF’s institutional expertise and resources to tackle essential development issues for children. Here in Indonesia we are initially developing partnerships with two universities to adapt the Challenge for Indonesia and participate in the fall of 2014.

Additional Innovation Activities: 
UNICEF Activate Talks Indonesia

2014 is the 25th anniversary year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC@25) and UNICEF has declared 2014 as the Year of Innovation for Equity. To make this a reality, UNICEF and its partners will bring together change makers from all walks of life to work with them to rethink how we can collectively deliver results for children. In the spirit of innovation, the year will include a series of dynamic events and seminars with experts, innovators and thought-leaders. The activities will take place throughout 2014, culminating in a high-level global event in November to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the CRC.

Also in 2014, the Government of Indonesia will submit its Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, highlighting what it has achieved for Indonesian children and what remains to be tackled. The country will also hold parliamentary (9th April) and presidential (9th July) elections in 2014. Of the estimated 187 million eligible voters, over one-third will be first-time voters between the ages of 16 and 20. Given the vibrant socio-political context of Indonesia, it is a very opportune moment for UNICEF to bring together young people, entrepreneurs, government partners, the private sector and civil society to share experiences and exchange their knowledge around innovative ideas and solutions that are shaping the country’s social development in different ways.

In recognition of this vibrant and unique moment, UNICEF Indonesia is convening a national “ACTIVATE” symposium on “Reducing Disparities; Achieving Equity: Innovating for Indonesian Children”. The symposium is a one-day event on the 23rd of April 2014, including a series of curated talks by 4-6 speakers from Indonesia who will showcase successful ideas and innovations that they have used to achieve better results for children, whether it is in the health sector, education, livelihoods, or through their engagement with young people and local communities.

[1] 2010 Indonesian Census  [2] The Jakarta Post:  [3] Tech in asia: