Meet Henri Nyakarundi, the winner of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant

Henri Nyakarundi is the CEO/Founder of Ared company and the winner of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant, organised by Ong2.0 within the Innovation for Development Programme. In Rwanda, Nyakarundi developed Shiriki Hub, a mobile solar kiosk, which offers customers a convenient low-cost solution to charge their phones, to browse the web and to have free offline access to digital content such as news and information on health and education. The Scientific Committee of the Grant evaluated Nyakarundi’s project as the best one among the 233 applications received.

We asked him some questions to get to know him better and here is what we discovered.

By Viviana Brun

 

Let’s start from the very beginning, where are you from and what’s your family and education background?

I was born in Kenya but grew up in Burundi but we were refugees from Rwanda. When I graduated high school in 1996, my parents decided to send me and my sister to the USA to continue our studies because the region was unstable. Burundi was at war and Rwanda was recovering from a genocide. We got our Rwandan citizenship in 1995.

 

What did you study and where?

I did my high school at Ecole Française de Bujumbura and my university at Georgia State University in Computer Science. I graduated in 2003

 

Who had the biggest impact on your career?

My mother. My mother was the backbone of our family, she put us through college, had a full-time job and running businesses on the side to pay our tuition. Even though we were refugees in Burundi, we were able to get the best education, her work ethics and discipline was unmatched. She owns her home in a time where it was difficult for women to own properties. Every time I am down, or want to give up I just remind myself of the struggle she went through and I quickly move forward.

 

Why did you decide to turn back to Africa and why did you choose Rwanda as the country to live in?

In 2009, I started coming back to Africa on a regular basis, and I started seeing how the narrative of the continent was changing. Innovation was booming. In the US, I had reached a plateau and iI did not feel that I can have any positive impact there. Because Africa was and is facing so many challenges, I knew this is where I can best apply some of my skill set.
Rwanda had changed dramatically, it was easier to start a business, today you can register a business in 4 hours, they have good infrastructure, great place to pilot new technology and of course the fact that I was Rwandan also motivated me more to start there.

 

I read somewhere that you are “an entrepreneur at heart”, is this true and what does this mean for you?

It means at least to me, I was born to be an entrepreneur. I started my first business when I was 20, and I fell in love with it even those it took me 10 years to build my first successful business. I almost quitted school to pursue it full time even then but my mother let just say deter me from quitting. I love solving problems and I believe that is what an entrepreneur is all about.

 

How do you create Shiriki Hub? Where the idea comes from?

Initially, Shiriki Hub was supposed to be a simple charging kiosk. The idea came from my travel in Burundi and Rwanda and seeing people having their phones but always looking for a place to charge them. I was not planning to build my own product. In the beginning, I was looking for an existing product but could not find one. I was seeing charging solutions at the airport, and I thought it would be great to have that on the streets of Africa to help people. That is when it all started. I hired a designer and an engineer and then the journey started.

 

What is the biggest challenge when, as you said on Ared website, you do business at the “base of the pyramid”?

First, people mindset, bring innovative solutions and innovative business model it takes time for people to understand and adopt it, so you have to spend a lot of time educating the people.
Second, building a technology suitable for the terrain of rural and semi-urban Africa is extremely hard.
Finally, building a sustainable business at the base of the pyramid is extremely hard.

 

What’s the aspect of your job that keeps you awake at night?

Running out of money before we can scale, finish our technology and build a sustainable business. This is hard and it requires strong financial backing for us to be successful.

 

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

Never give up no matter what, there is always a solution to a problem.

 

What role that ICT could play in strengthening the local development and the business ecosystem in Africa?

I believe ICT is the key that will bridge the information gap that exists with low-income people. Access to information is key to improve someone’s livelihood. However, it is still considered a luxury in a lot of communities. As we are facing global warming, and Africa will be most affected continent, accessing key information to minimize the effect of global warming will be a matter of life and death in the future.
Also ICT has open the door to a new generation of entrepreneurs, all you need now is human capital and an internet connection to build an app. I believe ICT has opened the door to a new set of creative mind and has given hope to a whole new generation of young Africans.

 

How can Shriki Hub be considered an inclusive business?

Shiriki Hub is specifically targeting low-income people, especially women and people with disabilities that have no other opportunities to make a living. We also focus on refugees that are, a lot of time, not included in any economic opportunities of the countries they live in. A lot of people are willing to work, want to work but because they do not have a college degree or come from poor families they lack option and this is why Ared was developed.

 

What’s the price for a phone charge? And for browsing the Internet?

In Rwanda is 10 cent, the internet is sold in increments of 5, 10, 30, 60 minutes and it is free for the 5 and 10. They pay 30 cent for 30 minutes and 50 cents for 60 minutes.

 

In terms of revenues, what is the core business of Shiriki Hub?

We have 3 revenue streams.
1. We share revenue with our micro franchisees on the sales of digital services like airtime, internet, gov services etc….
2. We offer advert on wifi network and we also can do survey or campaign for our clients and corporate partners or NGO’s
3. Finally, we starting to collect a lot of data, and we working on adding IOT technology then find buyers to some of the data we plan to collect like CO2 levels etc…

 

What is the average net revenue per month that Shiriki Hub provides to kiosk operators?

Micro franchisees generate on average 100$ a month on all services they provide on the kiosk. The goal is to add more services to increase both or our revenue.

 

What is the relationship between kiosk operators and Ared company during all the business phases?

We are partners, therefore we work closely together. The reason why we pick a micro-franchise model is that it’s a win-win situation. We provide the training, support and maintenance and the micro franchisees takes care of the end users. This is the key to being sure that the whole value chain is fluid enough so issues can be addressed quickly.

 

Where the kiosk components are made and why?

Battery and panels come from China, the wheel from Australia, the router system from the USA and the frame is made locally.

 

Is the government supporting somehow the social entrepreneurs in Rwanda? What could it be done better?

Not yet, we need tax law to better support social entrepreneurs by offering a tax credit, for example, NGOs are exempt from taxes, but because we are for profit we are taxed like a traditional business even those our focus in social impact first. We need our own tax categories, we need better access to funding, grants for R&D, we need an easier way to work with local government so we can reach to more communities on the ground. The government need to facilitate partnership so we can work together and speed up the impact. One of the biggest challenges in Rwanda, is that urbanization has banned a lot of the street vendor business and people are not given alternatives. The bottom line is we fighting the same fight, better the lives of people, if we do not work together we might fail on the fight against poverty.

 

How many kiosks are now operative and in which countries?

We have 25 solar kiosks in Rwanda, we just launch in Uganda in May, we just received most of our licensing so we plan to start our pilot project in November with 5 kiosks.

 

What is your message to social entrepreneurs?

If you do not have the passion to help others and solve huge problems do not become a social entrepreneur because it is harder than traditional business. Patience and extreme focus is the key.

 

What are your plans for the future?

Expansion, expansion, expansion. More than 400 million people live in poverty in Africa, so the need of solutions like ARED is in high demand, We want to be in 20 countries in the next 10 years, implement around 100000 solar kiosks. But first we need to finish our product development, we working on adding IOT technology on the kiosk to better monitor the kiosk on the ground and collect additional data.

 

Discover more details about the project

Photocredits: Ared

 

ICT for Social Good: discover the finalists

The “ICT for Social Good” Grant is entering its final stage. After a selection process lasting three months, the list of candidates for the two individual grants of 10,000 and 12,000 euros each – financed by Innovazione per lo Sviluppo Program and Fondazione Mission Bambini Onlus – has been narrowed down to 25.  We are happy to introduce to you the extraordinary projects that have been shortlisted and are going to be evaluated by an International Jury of excellence.

Written by Viviana Brun

 

 

233 innovative projects from 57 countries were initially selected based on formal criteria, adherence to the guidelines and requirements, and according to the analysis of all documentation requested. Projects entering this last selection stage are the final 25.

The Scientific Committee of the Grant – composed of representatives from SocialFare, Fundacion Paraguaya, Moxoff, E4impact and Nesta – has begun evaluating the projects, paying close attention to innovation, both from the point of view of technology and of the methodologies and approaches that have been adopted. The main focus is on the positive impact generated by the projects at the local level.

The winners will be announced at the end of September and the grants officially awarded during the Open Days of Innovation, scheduled in Milan, on November 6th and 7th.

 

A general overview

The 25 shortlisted innovators come from sixteen countries. The most represented countries being Nigeria and Kenya, both with four projects each. The African presence is very strong as twenty of the twenty-five finalists come from this continent. Of the remaining projects, two are from India, one is from Bosnia Herzegovina, one from Cambodia, and one from Colombia.

Nearly 40%, or 9 out of 25, of the finalist projects were presented by women, resulting in good female representation. While there is often talk of a gender gap in technology access, these “ICT for Social Good” innovators seem to counter this notion. As a percentage, women’s projects have risen from around 25% of the total initial applications to 36% of those that are in the final shortlist, demonstrating a high level of competency and quality among the proposals submitted.

The issues addressed most by the applicants concern agriculture and health, as well as the themes of education and of participation in political and public life. Seven of the finalists are tackling child-related issues and they will compete for the Grant funded by Fondazione Mission Bambini Onlus, specifically dedicated to this target.

 

The 25 finalists

  • Muhammad Abdullahi of eTrash2Casha technology-based waste management social enterprise based in Nigeria. It uses the web and mobile app platforms to register and collect major types of wastes from low-income individuals and households and exchanges them for cash incentives directly through their mobile bank accounts. eTrash2Cash uses wastes to create reusable materials. Food wastes are converted into organic compost to be sold to Nigerian farmers, low-cost tissue paper is produced from paper wastes,  and plastic refuse are used in making termite-resistant tables and chairs for school children.
  • Elijah Amoo Addo of Food for all Africa program, a not-for-profit start-up with a mission of creating sustainable means of nutrition and food security for vulnerable people, mostly children. This is done through food banking, farming and a forum that ensures efficient use of food within the supply chain in Ghana. A mobile and web application enables food sharing by connecting vulnerable communities to surplus food.
  • Bukola Bolarinwa of Haima Health Initiative a project that deploys an innovative Blood Supply Chain System (BSCS) to complement the current structure, with the aim of tackling the blood supply shortage in Nigeria. Haima Health Initiative leverages technology to improve blood availability for people in need, and to reduce blood racketeering and ‘blood black market’ operations. This is executed by the construction of Nigeria’s first mobile and web platform backed by a database of voluntary blood donors who are then connected to patients in real-time using Global Positioning System (GPS), mobile and web technology.
  • Ahmed Karim Cisse of Connexion Sans Frontiere, uses ICT for a telemedicine project dedicated mainly to trauma patients, for example, victims of road accidents in Senegal.
  • Albin Mathias Fiita of Potential Enhancement Foundation installed solar energy-powered computer laboratories in Tanzania, using low-power Raspberry Pi computers and open source software to make laboratories sustainable over time.
  • Kristin Gaensicke of Riziki Source, a platform that bridges the gap between the job market and persons with disabilities in Kenya. It enables access to job opportunities for persons with disabilities by collecting relevant data from text messages. The information collected is used to form a profile of the job seekers available through the online platform, where employees can easily access it. The platform also informs employers the type of disability, thus enabling them the allocation of appropriate jobs or putting accessibility needs into consideration during job interviews.
  • Elizabeth Kperrun of Lizzie’s Creations, creates fun, educational mobile apps to teach kids using Africa’s native languages, in Nigeria. The first app series AfroTalez narrates African folk tales to kids while also tackling standard classroom lessons such as counting, object recognition, and more. Another series Teseem teaches kids their first words in English, as well as in their native African languages such as ausa, Swahili, Igbo and Yoruba.
  • Suzana Moreira of Mowoza in Mozambique, works with Mabiz, an education solution delivering business-related content to female-led micro and small businesses via SMS and WhatsApp. Many female micro and small business entrepreneurs in Mozambique have no formal education and struggle with stagnating businesses. By creating awareness of business concepts these traders are able to make better decisions while investing their resources wisely.
  • Clever Mukove of Knowledge Transfer Africa in Zimbabwe, worked on the creation of eMKambo, a web and mobile application dedicated to exchanging information on agricultural issues, market prices, and connecting producers and traders.
  • Jennifer Nantale of Nyaka School, in Uganda, has developed Patient App Care a mHealth, an Android-based application, working as a medical reminder system to improve people’s (mainly HIV/AIDS patients) access to medicines and healthcare.
  • Grâce Françoise Nibizi of SaCoDé , in Burundi, has been working to raise awareness among citizens, especially women, on issues related to sexual and reproductive health using an interactive SMS information system.
  • Margaret Njenga of @iLabAfrica is conducting a project that involves the supply, implementation, and commissioning of a business intelligence, analytics and automated online revenue accounting system for county governments in Kenya. County Pro, the name of this project, aims to increase citizens’ participation in county government processes, as well as increase transparency.
  • Achiri Arnold Nji of Traveler, a mobile phone app that monitors the performance, speed, location and number of passengers on a bus. With the help of big data and machine intelligence, the app alerts drivers and authorities to potential dangers in Cameroon. The system automatically sends high-speed alerts each time a given bus runs above regulatory speed limits. With an integrated cloud service and a ‘back-end’ monitoring system, it can provide predictive analysis and recommendations to road safety officials that can help reduce road accidents. Should an accident occur, the app automatically detects it and notifies its location to emergency services, hospitals, and families of all users. The app is designed to work with or without an Internet connection.
  • Henri Nyakarundi of Ared, a Rwanda based company that provides a business-in-a-box solar kiosk platform, called Shiriki Hub, to empower low-income individuals with the use of a micro-franchise business model. The kiosk is a self-contained unit from which mobile money, airtime, advertisement, and digital content using wifi technology can be purchased, as well as where customers can charge their mobile phones and other small devices. Through this technology, they can provide affordable access to key services and digital access to low-income people, while also addressing the significant unemployment problem in the region.
  • Francis Obirikorang of AgroCenta has developed an agri-tech platform offering a suite of services designed to empower rural smallholder (?) farmers in Ghana. These services include up-to-date commodity pricing information that allows farmers to sell their crops at fair market value, an on-demand logistics service to facilitate crop deliveries and prevent food spoilage, an online platform to arrange sales, and electronic payment services leveraging local mobile money providers to process payments. These services are designed to address rural farmers market exclusion and provide technologically assisted market linkages.
  • Simeon Oyando Ogonda of Education for Change in Kenya, he uses the m-shamba platform to train people in rural areas to the use of alternative green methods when cooking food and/or managing pests in agriculture.
  • Daniel Oulai of Grainothèque, the first Community library in Ivory Coast dedicated to seeds, born to preserve African biodiversity, but also to ensure access to young farmers to traditional seeds and training courses. The project includes the creation of a web platform dedicated to topics as seed reproduction, how to adapt agricultural production to climate change and to improve the marketing of local products.
  • Emmanuel Owobu of MobiCure, in Nigeria, has developed the OMOMI app that allows mothers to monitor their children’s health and growth by receiving targeted information during different stages of their babies’ lives.
  • Alexie Seller of Pollinate Energy in Indiaoffers ecological products that can improve the quality of life within Indian suburbs and uses mobile technology to handle payment rates.
  • Victor Shikoli of Hydrologistics Africa, in Kenya developed HydroIQ, a GPS- and internet-enabled device that is plugged into existing water supply systems in homes or businesses and along water distribution networks, to automatically monitor water use, quality, and leakages using sensors that send data to an online platform in real-time, thereby turning traditional water systems into smart water grids to improve inefficiencies, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Sumeysh Srivastava of NyaayaIndia’s first free online repository of every central and state law explained in simple English with interactive guides and visuals to make it easier for people to be aware of their rights and duties.
  • Sovan Srun of Edemy, in Cambodia has created a system to equalize access to quality English by improving students’ and teachers’ education. Edemy avoids the need for constant Internet connectivity when delivering online education and works by using a cheap Rasberry computer and educational in-house software developed for this purpose.
  • Branko Vasiljevic of Civil Patrols, developed software to improve and support communication and cooperation between civilians and police/public safety institutions with an aim to make their environment safer by joining forces. It allows end-users to report illegal activities to the appropriate institutions via secured online communication channels in Bosnia Herzegovina.
  • Emily Warne of Health Buildersuses ICTs to network and digitize medical information to make health centres more efficient in Rwanda.

 

 

partnership

 

 

 

The many faces of innovation for development

Who are the protagonists of social innovation around the world?

In this video gallery we have collected the pitch decks from many of the innovators who have  successfully passed the first stage of the selection process of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant, created by Ong2.0 and realised within the Innovazione per lo Sviluppo Program, thanks to the support of Fondazione Cariplo, Compagnia di San Paolo and the collaboration of Fondazione Mission Bambini Onlus.

by Viviana Brun

 

 

To present their project, their idea, their reason for working passionately every day, in a span of thirty seconds is a challenging task. Many innovators of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant, however, accepted this challenge with great enthusiasm and tried their best to briefly introduce themselves and their projects.

This video gallery was created to offer an overview of the variety evident in the social innovation sector. It is a world populated by people of different origins, aspirations, ages … a sign of how ICTs are versatile tools that can be adapted to contexts and needs in the service of a more inclusive kind of development.

 

Let’s have a look at the video playlist.

 

One problem means one new idea

Every deficiency has at least one solution, and it’s just a matter of identifying the one that suits best. This seems to be the idea that inspired the work of the participants in this first edition of the “ICT for Social Good” Grant.

So, if citizens in Bosnia-Herzegovina don’t feel safe enough, they can join forces with and help the police/public safety institutions to make their environment more secure by using Civil Patrols, a software that helps end users report illegal activities to the appropriate institutions via secure online communication channels.

To help the hearing-impaired in Colombia overcome communication barriers they encounter every day, a virtual interpreter is available on PCs and smartphones.

In Nigeria, in order to counter the black market for blood transfusions, and encourage the meeting and the exchange of information among donors, patients and health centers, Bukola Bolarinwa founded Haima Health Initiative, an application accessible on PCs and mobile devices.

In India, the Nyaaya platform supports citizens’ access to state laws with the use of guides and tutorials. Availability in various local languages ensures that everyone is able to truly understand his or her rights.

If traditional African identity and knowledge are likely to be lost, the app developed by Elizabeth Kperrun helps children rediscover fables in their local language, and have fun while learning in English, Hausa, Swahili, Igbo, and Yoruba, providing everyone with access to quality educational content.

According to the World Health Organisation, in Cameroon deaths caused by road accidents exceed those due to malaria by 40%. As a result Achiri Arnold Nji decided to develop Traveler, a platform that uses big data, GPS systems, and sensors to monitor the performance of bus drivers, improve passenger safety, and respond in case of accidents.

 

Social innovation is not just in the technology

Not everyone develops new or highly technological solutions. In Benin, where people with albinism still face prejudice and discrimination, Franck Hounsa educated a group of 20 albinos on blogging and digital writing so they can raise awareness on what this congenital disorder really is, to help prevent the spread of prejudice and discrimination and get other albinos out of isolation.
In Ivory Coast, Daniel Oulai combined offline and online methods through the creation of “Grainothèque” -the first Ivorian community library dedicated to seeds- created to preserve African biodiversity, and to ensure young farmers’ access to good quality native seeds. The project is accompanied by the creation of a web platform dedicated to agro-topics such as seed reproduction, how to adapt agricultural production to climate change, and how to improve the marketing of local products.

 

Agriculture and health among the most common themes

There are many solutions dedicated to agriculture, as well as products and services targeting women’s health and empowerment.

In Burundi, where access to the Internet is limited, social organisations have registered strong demand for good information on sexual and reproductive health issues. To cope with this need, Grâce Françoise Nibizi and SaCoDé association put in place an SMS information system.

While in Nigeria, Emmanuel Owobu created MobiCure, an app that allows mothers to monitor their children’s health and growth by receiving targeted information for various stages of their children’s development.

In Mozambique, Suzana Moreira is working to improve women’s access to entrepreneurship through a training program and a direct support system realised via SMS and social media.

Among the videos received, there are also some Italian examples. Organizations such as IPSIA, CINI Italia e Global Health Telemedicine Onlus presented innovative projects realized in different countries in the fields of education, women’s protection and struggle against early marriage, and telemedicine.

The basic rule for everyone is to focus on effectiveness, not on the use of technology in itself, but on the use of ICTs as tools to create a concrete and positive impact at a local level.

 

partnership

ICT for Social Good: 233 innovative projects from the world

233 innovative projects from 57 countries all over the world, this is the positive outcome of the first edition of ICT for Social Good, the Grant organised by ONG2.0 – within the Programme “Innovation for Development” promoted by Fondazione Cariplo and Compagnia di San Paolo – in collaboration with Fondazione Mission Bambini, to sustain and support innovative ideas created with a bottom-up approach in low-income countries.

by Viviana Brun

 

An education app in the local language for spreading African culture and history while supporting children in learning.
A mobile health system to inform and share basic medical information via SMS.
Smartphones as a tool to connect and inform farmers about market trends and cultivation methods for improving and increasing the agri-production.
Hot-spots installed in rural areas to let people access information through the Internet or via preloaded content.
ICTs as a way to manage the medicine supply in health centres.
A YouTube channel as a tool to raise awareness about the risks and the modalities of international trafficking in human beings.

These are only a few examples of the 233 innovative projects we received from 57 countries all over the world. At a first glance, candidates demonstrated a high level of competence and creativity in the use of ICT for local development.

Mapping innovative projects

In order to allow everybody to explore and compare the different projects, we collected on this map all the local innovators who applied for the Grant. By clicking on each waypoint you have access to some basic information. The map is designed to be implemented and to host more and more information over the time.

Stories of social innovation

All the applications we received show an interesting cosmos of stories of social innovation: innovative projects, created with a bottom-up approach and able of generating a positive social impact at the community level. These initiatives represent a precious material for raising awareness in the world of international cooperation, paving the way for a new approach to local development. Indeed, all these projects show how important is to have a critical and propositive approach to ICT4D and to give value to local talents and professionalisms engaged for social change.

In the coming months, we have planned to tell the stories of the protagonists of ICT for Social Good Grant from their personal point of view. We will collect all these interviews in a special section on the website of Ong2.0.

Next steps

The first session of the selection process has already started. A jury of experts (selected among the actors involved in the “Innovazione per lo Sviluppo” Programme) is currently working to verify, one by one, that all the applications are eligible and congruent with the Grant statements. The candidates considered formally valid will be invited to provide the full documentation and a letter of reference from an authority that can be either internationally (UN agency, development agency, international NGO, etc.) or locally recognised (University, research centre, government, regional institution, etc.) attesting the real implementation of the project. The Scientific Committee of ICT for Social Good will be in charge of the final evaluation.

The members of the Scientific Committee are – Guglielmo Gori from SocialFare, the first Social Innovation Center in Italy, – Martin Burt, Founder and General Director of Fundacion Paraguaya, a Paraguay-based NGO focused on microfinance and entrepreneurship, – Ottavio Crivaro, CEO of Moxoff spa, a company specialised on the application of mathematics for the innovation and design of services and products for companies, – Mario Molteni, Senior Fellow of Ashoka for E4IMPACT, a foundation that offers MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship in five African countries, – Giulio Quaggiotto,Innovation Advisor of the Prime Minister’s Office of the United Arab Emirates and Associate to the well-known English foundation Nesta.

The winners will receive a money prize. Moreover, they will be invited to Italy to attend the final event of the Innovazione per lo Sviluppo framework, that will take place in Milan on November 2017. Italian entrepreneurial and research entities will be present in order to know the project and, possibly, sustain it.

 

 

The ICT for Social Good Grant is organised by Ong 2.0, CISV, Fondazione Mission Bambini, Opes Impact Fund, with the financial help of Fondazione Cariplo e Compagnia di San Paolo and the collaboration of SocialFare, E4Impact, Nexa Center, MoxOff, Calandria. Media partner: Agenzia Dire.

Birth registration is a child’s right

A name and nationality is every child’s right, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international treaties. Yet the births of nearly one-fourth of children under the age of five worldwide have never been recorded. This lack of formal recognition by the State usually means that a child is unable to obtain a birth certificate. As a result, he or she may be denied healthcare or education. Later in life, the lack of official identification documents can mean that a child may enter into marriage or the labour market, or be conscripted into the armed forces, before the legal age. Registering children at birth is the first step in securing their recognition before the law, safeguarding their rights, and ensuring that any violation of these rights does not go unnoticed.

Most countries have mechanisms in place for registering births. However, coverage, the type of information obtained and the use of resulting data can differ, based on a country’s infrastructure, administrative capacity, availability of funds, access to the population and technology for data management. Rates of registration vary substantially among countries, due to these and other factors.

Large differences can be found in the coverage of birth registration among regions. Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) has the highest level of birth registration, with 98 percent of children under 5 registered. This is followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, at 92 percent, and the Middle East and North Africa, at 87 per cent.

The lowest levels of birth registration are found in sub-Saharan Africa (41 per cent). In Eastern and Southern Africa, only 36 percent of children are registered by their fifth birthday, while the rate in West and Central Africa is slightly higher, at 45 percent.

 

Percentage of children under age five whose births are registered by region.

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Source: UNICEF

 

Many UNICEF country offices are exploring the use of mobile communications technologies, including cell phones, to increase birth registration coverage. As a result, access to reliable data in real time is being used for planning and decision-making.

Mobile and digital technology can be used to obtain timely, accurate and permanent records.

In Uganda, UNICEF and a private sector partner, Uganda Telecom, are piloting a mobile and web-based technology to digitise birth records, making the birth registration process faster, more accessible and more reliable.

Cambodia case study

According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS) 2010, just over 62 percent of children under five are registered in Cambodia, which is lower than the 2005 figure of 65 per cent. CDHS 2010 also shows a huge gap in birth registration between urban and rural, and between the rich and the poor. 60 percent of children live in rural area registered their birth comparing to 74 percent of children living in urban. There is gap between the rich and the poor as well with only 48 percent of the poorest children registered as opposed to 78 percent of the richest as shown in the graph.

Since 2011 MOI, with UNICEF support, has been implementing a pilot initiative in 32 communes of three districts in Kampong Speu, Prey Veng, and Svay Rieng Provinces to model the most effective ways to address the issues that cause low levels of birth registration. The pilot outcomes will also guide key stakeholders for policy and programme adaptation.

There are many reason for this situation:

  • Lower value of and demand for birth certificates
  • The form/design of the birth certificate is not durable especially for rural families, who are at higher risk of damage and loss.
  • Communes and districts often experience a shortage of birth certificate supplies causing inconsistency and delays in providing birth registration services.
  • Parents find the process of birth registration of newborn children – especially late registration – complicated and rigid.
  • The paper-based, manual monitoring and reporting system leads to poor data management, low information quality and irregular or late information flow.

One of the recommended action is to implement a monthly routine outreach and real-time reporting of birth registration through short-messaging services (SMS).

To help solve this issue, UNICEF Cambodia together with General Department of Identification (GDI) set up a pilot IVR platform using a combination of RapidPro and the cloud communication channels Twilio and Nexmo. This solution would, for the first time, help ensure communes would never be out of stock and babies could be registered as soon as possible – a vital protection method for children.

Each month commune clerks report the number of forms and/or books in stock either by responding to the automated monthly calls initiated by RapidPro or by calling the system. The data is then analysed by RapidPro. If the numbers of forms or books in stock are below a certain threshold, RapidPro will automatically notify the district level by SMS and the province level and GDI by email. The district officers in charge of re-supplying forms and books receive SMS notifications on communes that need restocking, helping to ensure communes will be equipped to register all children.

RapidPro is being used all over the world in a variety of ways to assist children and families, supported by UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre (GIC). The GIC acts as a centre of excellence that is powered by a growing global network of UNICEF offices, specialists and allies dedicated to using technology that can have a large-scale impact on the lives of children.

 

Photo Credit: Margherita Dametti for COOPI

Source: https://blogs.unicef.org/east-asia-pacific/harnessing-mobile-technology-improve-birth-registration-systems-cambodia/

 

ICT4D champions at work, devising innovative solutions for Development

On April 10th, the long-term online training course “ICT Innovations for Development” ended with a Public BarCamp. In this occasion, the 23 selected participants who got the scholarship (among the 480 applications we received from all over the world) had the opportunity to present their ICT4D Final Projects and to win the chance for seed-funding.

 

This 2nd edition of the “ICT Innovations for Development” training course aimed to support the theoretical and practical development of participants in the field of Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D), as well as to support their critical thinking towards existing initiatives, methods and tools; and enhance their ability to develop, adopt and re-appropriate various technologies and social innovation methodologies for local, national or international development.

ICT4D: the final step

ict4d barcamp

It was a long journey – from November 2016 to April 2017 – made up of eight Modules, 28 lectures by world-renowned lecturers, dozens of module assignments. After the training period, the participants were invited to put into practice the knowledge and the skills the got from the training sessions. Therefore, since March 2017, they worked on different real-life case studies proposed by six Italian NGOs (CISV, LVIA, ProgettoMondo Mlal, Amici dei Popoli ONG, AIFO, CeLIM Milano) aiming to develop ICT-oriented solutions in the different countries and contexts they are working with and for. During the final Barcamp, the participants were invited to present and showcase the mock-up, prototypes and innovative strategies they developed in teams, during the last full month.

A Judging Panel, composed by Cristina Toscano (Fondazione Cariplo), Ilaria Caramia (Compagnia di San Paolo), Josh Harvey (CARE) and Gianluca Lazzolino (Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Oxford) was in charge of evaluating all the projects and selecting the most advanced one.

The winner team was made up of Alice Mantoani, Mohamed Amine Chriyaa, Stefano Battain, Adelaide Strada ed Enrico Marescotti. This team worked on “ARePAG” project, aiming to increased resilience capacity of small-scale producers of rice, vegetables and yams in Haute Guinée. Our ICT Champions focused on evaluating and prototype the use of ICTs for improving the supply chain and the logistic systems.

 

Here is the storify of the event:
Schermata 2017-04-13 alle 09.52.10

The overall journey

The whole path of this long training course was organised and coordinated by Ron Salaj, digital activist and member of the team of ONG2.0. The final BarCamp offered the opportunity to retrace with him the main steps, the goals and the overall spirit of this course.

“Well, I think that the course tried to provide the latest trends in ICT tools, practical skills, field-examples, methodologies, frameworks, and knowledge – sometimes even specific expertise through guest speakers – that can help participants expand and strengthen their existing toolbox on a variety of fields: from social innovation and tech4dev to data collection, mapping and emergencies, human rights and democracy, health, education, financial equality and inclusion and, agriculture”, Ron said.

“However, under the circumstances of daily and global crises we are living, the keyword should be courage. As French philosopher, Alain Badiou writes -courage is not being too quickly discouraged- and, precisely in this, the ICT Innovations for Development course aimed also to reconstitute the courage and to orient participants work locally. Seeing the work that has been done in the past 6 months, since the course has started, it gave me courage that another world is possible, or rather another development or cooperation is possible – one that can be focused locally and singularly but, that can be always transmitted globally and universally”, concluded Ron.

The winning team’s plans for the future

We interviewed Alice Mantoani, one of the members of the winning team, about her impression of the training course, the teamwork and on how they were able to coordinate each other, working remotely, from different countries and time zones.

Alice started talking about the overall experience. What convinced her the most – in addition to the validity and internationality of the professors – was the marked practical aspect of the course.

“The -to do- part was put in the first place since the beginning, through the practical demonstrations of teachers, but most thanks to the teamwork, which was based on real projects.”

One of the most appreciated aspects that Alice reported is the heterogeneity of the class.

“Thanks to the online mode, it was possible to put together a professional team, made up of various profiles from different contexts and areas of expertise, while being all part of the same large field of development cooperation.”

Finally, Alice explained how all members have collaborated actively, dividing their time between moments of sharing with the rest of the team – “of course via Skype, being scattered all over the globe – and moments of individual work, during which everyone has to focused on specific tasks.”

“I have to admit that I had a pretty tough team! – Alice added with enthusiasm – We were all good, despite the tight deadline and the great personal work that each of us has faced. Despite the small problems we encountered on our path, I think the project has been developed in a comprehensive manner. Most of the work has already been done, now we just need to simplify it and put it into practice. We already have some ideas on how to use the funds and how to operationalize this project and we plan to start as soon as possible!”

 

The course was organised by Ong 2.0 within the project “Innovation for Development” supported by Fondazione Cariplo and Compagnia San Paolo, in partnership with Opes Impact Fund, Fondazione Acra, We Make, Ouagalab, Fablab To, ISI Foundation, Fondazione Politecnico di MilanoNexa Center, Università di Torino and Politecnico di Torino.

ICT for human rights, democracy and activism

ICT for human rights, democracy and activism – these comprehensive set of topics have been part of Module 6 as part of long-term online course “ICT Innovations for Development”.

 

This module looked at the role of ICT to advance, promote and defend human rights, as well as capture testimonials of human rights violation. Moreover, it provided the opportunity to participants to learn more how ICTs can be adopted for democratic processes and activism. The module has specifically focused on how new technologies are influencing the human rights agenda and how they are being used by the local population and by NGOs to monitor, expose and address human right violations, while also highlighting the challenges and risks associated with ICTs. With the rise of online surveillance techniques and technologies, and ever-increasing online tracking methods, activists across the world have been the target of such surveillance and tracking, therefore the Module has looked also at the (anti)surveillance techniques, platforms and technologies.

Bringing together international experts, such as: Satu Valter, anti-racist activist and head of No Hate Speech Campaign in Finland; Dr Dan McQuillan, professor at Goldsmiths, University of London and one of 93 people who were beaten, disappeared & tortured by Italian police during G8 protest in Genoa (2001); and Ron Salaj, human rights and environmental activist – the module brought together a broad range of themes, case studies and looked at practical tools, platforms and apps.

The first lecture focused more on the basic concepts of Human Rights, looking at the main characteristics of human rights, its values, but also its conflicts and dilemmas, followed by a case study from Finland. It is precisely this case study which was discussed and presented by Satu Valtere, that is, the No Hate Speech Campaign, a European campaign launched by Council of Europe. Focusing on the main elements and features of the campaign, Satu has described the advantages and disadvantages of the campaigns for human rights that are launched by international organisations. Considering that this campaign focuses on combating hate speech online, an interesting discussion took place around the dilemma between freedom of expression and hate speech – and where the line exist?

We moved on with the second lecture, where Ron Salaj has spoken about the concept of activism in the Internet age. Starting from the ’60s, ‘70s and ‘80s protests in China (Tiananmen square), Italy (Movement of ‘77) and feminist movements across Europe – this lecture looked specifically at the campaigning techniques by activists and dissidents movements across the world: from samizdat techniques of publication to culture jamming and free pirate radios. The lecture continues to explore how the forms of activism have shifted by the internet. For example: looking how activists have shut down Lufthansa’s website in Germany (using DDoS attacks) for several hours to protest the immigrant deportation with Lufthansa’s airplanes, a case which the german court has ruled pro activists, justifying the website attack as non-violent digital disobedience; or exploring Google Bombing and agile campaigning techniques employed by anti-racist and anti-Islamophobic group called English Disco Lovers; and then concluding with a detailed analyzation and critical discussion around Arab Spring, Occupy Movement and Gezi Parki – three movements that shake the world between 2010-2013.

The third lecture lead by Dr Dan McQuillan has looked specifically at the concept of ‘open source intelligence’. It started with the technique of ‘sousveillance’, which means “watching from below” (or the opposite of ‘surveillance’) and its etymology derives from replacing ‘sur’ (over) with ‘sous’, which means ‘under’ or ‘below’ or ‘from below’. To illustrate the technique, Dr. Dan McQuillan described how the ‘monitoring from below’ has happened since early ‘90s with Rodney King case in Los Angeles to #BlackLivesMatter, civil rights movements which is coordinated but at the same time decentralized and without the leader, as well as combining localised power structures with an inclusive ethos that consciously incorporates women, LQBTQI* activists, etc. The lecture continued with Bellingcat – a great example that blends together open source intelligence, digital forensics and investigative journalism. Along with Bellingcat, Forensic Architecture has been, a research agency which “provide evidence for international prosecution teams, political organisations, NGOs, and the United Nations in various processes worldwide.  Additionally, the agency undertakes historical and theoretical examinations of the history and present status of forensic practices in articulating notions of public truth”. The lecture has been concluded with practical work on the variety of open source technologies for activism, evidence gathering, investigation, etc.

The fourth lecture again leads by Dr Dan McQuillan, focused on online surveillance and tracking. The lecture has heavily focused on developing the practical skills of participants, by demonstrating and practicing a number of tools and platforms, such as Mozilla’s Lightbeam plugin that helps you identify online trackers in real-time; Panopticlick, a research project by EFF; Tor browser, keeping your browser and internet search anonymous; Veracrypt, a free disk encryption software; PGP, an email encryption system and other encrypted communication channels like Signal or Silent Phone. The lecture has concluded with a theoretical elaboration of Edward Snowden’s revelation and how the big democratic states like USA or UK harness some of the most sophisticated spying technologies at global scale. But on the other side, new movements are emerging to resists, take action and educate people across the world against online surveillance, such as Cryptoparty a decentralized movement with events happening all over the world, aiming to pass on knowledge about protecting yourself in the digital space (this can include encrypted communication, preventing being tracked while browsing the web, and general security advice regarding computers and smartphones).

 

Photo Credits: Trump-WomensMarch_2017-1060165

ICT for Social Good: a grant for local innovators

We believe that innovation is a powerful local development force, capable of generating ideas that transform the life of the communities. This is the reason why we decide to launch ICT for Social Good” – a grant for creative and groundbreaking ideas, using digital technology for positive social change.

Read more

How citizen activists can check politicians’ statements on air pollution

Are you sceptical about what your Ministry of Environment declares about air pollution? Test it! This is what some activists member of two associations (PEN and Science for Change Movement) have done in Prishtina, Kosovo.  By means of digital tools that work as sensors able of measuring and monitoring the presence of PM2.5 –

Atmospheric particulate matter – also known as particulate matter (PM) or particulates – are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. The term aerosol commonly refers to the particulate/air mixture, as opposed to the particulate matter alone.Sources of particulate matter can be man-made or natural. They have impacts on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health.” (Wikipedia) – in the air, activists have assessed that the air pollution in an area around a school exceeds acceptable limits. Data show how the pupils of the school are at high risk of exposure to poisoning. This can undermine the cognitive and physical development of the children, according to several studies conducted by renowned institutions.

mappa prishtina

“The red line represents the areas in which the measurements were conducted where values exceeded acceptable limits according to the Air Quality Index that is used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The measurements that are seen here were conducted on January 25, 2017, and the maximum level of PM2.5 pollution reached 160.44 micrograms per cubic meter. Whereas the values that are considered to be allowable are 0-25 micrograms per cubic meter. Image courtesy of PEN and the Science for Change Movement.”

This research has been possible thanks to the collaboration of the school staff that has allowed the research. Many similar tests have been conducted by activists in Kosovo involving young students who have the chance to learn very early the importance of good air quality.

Read the full article on making sense and get more insights and details about the investigations presented above. Maps and more education activities that have directly involved primary schools children are reported at the end of the article.

The use of drones in the humanitarian sector

In the last years, the use of drones has increased dramatically due to prices drop and technological progress that make the use of drones easier.  Therefore, the use of them has been studied and applied in the humanitarian sector in order to facilitate and accelerate the response to humanitarian crises. The guide “Drones in Humanitarian Sector” made by the Swiss Foundations for Mine Action (FSD) and its partners (CartOng, Zoi Environment Network and UAViators)  provide us with interesting and latest insights to understand how drones can actually have a positive impact on the humanitarian action with a focus on natural disasters.

By Federico Rivara

According to a survey conducted among humanitarian workers, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (aka drones) application would be interesting in five main sectors: 

  • mapping services
  • delivering light items in remote areas
  • damages assessment practices
  • monitoring changes
  • increasing situational awareness

For all of them, case studies reported by several actors are presented in order to tell readers how humanitarians can use drones and which knowledge is required.Today, most of the humanitarian organisation which use drones establish partnerships with services providers that have sufficient capacity for humanitarian actions, technological skills and field capacity for drones deployment.

Mapping

With respect to mapping, drones can play a better role than traditional GPS\GIS services due to the fact that they can work in particular weather conditions (for instance, clouds can reduce the use of satellites) but also provide live information about fast-changing environments. On the other side, drones often need more flights to carry a data collection – especially for large areas –  given their low battery levels. Moving to the field, UAVs made possible the mapping of Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 to prepare the assessment of densely populated slums by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) where information provided by drones could be more precise than those given by GPS. Obviously, alternatives are complementary rather than opposite and the use of one or other tools depends on the context and the plan.

drone - gps

Final recommendations about mapping refer to emergency relief. In fact, today drones are not so often used because the preparation can take too much time if there are not organisation or external services providers already close to the area affected with enough deployed drones. Moreover, people and policy-makers still look at drones suspiciously given the military connotation they have. However, the fact that many civilians are getting more familiar with this technology can change the perception on them.

Cargo Delivery

Often, the delivery of basic needs after a crisis is difficult due to the poor infrastructures conditions and other challenges. Therefore, UAVs can play an important role. The technological progress in this field is not developed that much to provide assistance on large scale, in large areas and providing massive help. However, the supply of medical and health items is already possible and several organisations have already used drones to deliver them. Examples come from all over the worlds and regard the delivery of vaccines, purified water bottles and contraceptives but also the collection of Tuberculosis sputum samples.

Actors that work on it (NGOs, universities, start-ups, logistics companies and so on) can either land the UAV on the field or parachute the items. It often depends on the regulation that the interested country has. A database, Global Drone Regulations Database that gives updates of almost all of the countries of the world has been launched by UAViators and supported by the FSD,  The New America Foundation and the  Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU. Everyone can register and provide updates on drone laws of any country.

Several aspects need to advance if cargo delivery by means of drones will become usual. Besides the regulations, all the actors involved need to communicate more to understand each other area of expertise. Technological progress will also reduce the costs to use UAVs and humanitarian organisations would be more willing to use these services either developing internal capacity or collaborating with external providers. Training and staffing in order to deploy drones in conflict zones are needed to guarantee collaboration and safety of the operations. Finally, an increase in the use of them can reduce people’s risk as they should not deliver aid with helicopters and planes. A final recommendation that the guide gives states that more field tests are needed to statistically obtain information about cargo drones efficiency.

Other Applications

drones search and rescueThe last section of the guide refers to the use of drones for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in the aftermath of a humanitarian disaster and on the monitoring and real-time information provision. While SAR actions can be already supported by means of drones, monitoring and real-time information provision is still not very common given the fact that mid to large-sized UAVs and complicated transmission technology would be required to get information on large areas. However, drones have been used to assess the damages occurred after the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. So, operators could understand which materials were needed to repair the hospital without putting the life of people at risks. However, drones have to be deployed at the right moment. Otherwise, their impact on the decision and planning making would be highly limited.

To conclude, UAVs can surely play an important role in the humanitarian crises and solve several challenges faced in these contexts. However, technological progress is still required. This process has to proceed alongside with regulations decisions and with the awareness of the fact that many ethical, privacy and security concerns occur when the use of drones implies the collection of data.

You can download the full report here

Photo Credits: DFID  – UK Department for International Development and Wikimedia Commons

 

Join the webinar “The use of drones in the Humanitarian and Development sector“.

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