Business as usual is not enough to make the vision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child a reality for all children. The world needs new ideas and approaches, we need innovation to progress. And we have to make sure that innovation benefits every child. The best solutions will come from new problem solving networks and communities of innovation – and they will come from young people, adolescents and children themselves. Children and young people are often the ones who are most acutely aware and deeply concerned about the challenges facing their communities. They have increasingly been participating in these communities, helping to re-imagine the future. They have their own views and have the right to express them.
Innovation is a way to drive change, especially for the most disadvantaged children. It has to ensure that the poorest and most marginalised children are equitably reached, and their voices are heard.
Malawi has been piloting mobile phone technologies such as Rapid SMS and Anthrowatch to support neonatal care, early infant diagnosis and monitoring of malnutrition. UNICEF has been supporting the Government of Malawi in piloting the usage of mobile phone technologies to collect and analyse health data and follow up on patients, making sure they take up preventive treatment and check-ups.
In the field of WASH, UNICEF, in partnership with the European Union, reinforces innovation through its support for the Mzuzu SMART centre, which aims to improve the living standards of people in Malawi through the provision of innovative, affordable, and sustainable water and sanitation solutions, such as the corbelled latrine. This design was developed during participatory design sessions, conducted in three districts. It’s a local, durable and affordable innovation, as it lasts for up to seven years and does not require cement.
Moreover, Malawi is already home to several innovators, such as William Kamkwamba, who gained worldwide fame by building his own windmill with locally collected materials. To encourage other young innovators, UNICEF is working together with Blantyre Polytechnic to establish an innovation hub at this university campus. The Hub will provide a dynamic platform to scale up and sustain UNICEF’s innovation efforts in Malawi and to nurture new game changing solutions in UNICEF’s areas of programming. Through collaborative engagement of youth, academia, government, private sector and development partners, the Hub is to serve as a vehicle to catalyze innovation within and outside UNICEF.
Strategies and Actions