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UNICEF honoured as a top innovative development organization

© Map Kibera & UNICEF Kenya/2010/Goldstein
Regynnah Awino, 22, is lead community mapper for the Kibera digital mapping project in Kenya, one of the innovative initiatives in which UNICEF is participating.

NEW YORK, USA, 18 April 2011 – UNICEF has been named as a leading innovative international development organization by Devex, a global hub for international development professionals and aid workers.

UNICEF was one of 40 organizations to receive this distinguished honour, which recognizes four different types of international development organizations: donor agencies and foundations, advocacy groups, consulting companies and non-governmental organizations. The selection was based on a poll of thousands of Devex members.

Unique initiatives

Devex has become a clearing house for international development business, careers and news. The organization’s motto – ‘Do Good. Do It Well’ – is reflected in its distinguished member community of more than 500,000 aid workers and development professionals, making it one of the largest such networks in the world.

With its rich history of innovation, UNICEF is being honoured for its distinct contribution in several areas including mobile phone use, digital mapping and connecting students around the world.

In response to the sharp increase in cell phone usage, UNICEF developed RapidSMS, an open-source framework for data collection, logistics coordination and communication. It allows even the most basic mobile phones to interact with the web. RapidSMS is currently being used in Rwanda to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality.

“Innovative social and civic media initiatives can be both an important tool and a catalyst,” said Gerrit Beger, Chief of UNICEF’s Youth Section. “Connectivity through mobile phones as well as the internet is ever expanding, increasingly allowing even the most deprived and thus far disconnected to get informed, engaged and participate in creating positive change for themselves and their communities.”

Last year, together with OpenStreetMap’s Map Kibera, UNICEF launched a youth-led digital mapping pilot programme in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. The aim was to help young people, especially young women and girls, who used the tool to identify and map risks and vulnerabilities related to their health and protection. The mapping not only helped community members pinpoint dangerous areas, but it also raised awareness and advocacy related to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

Educational innovation

The Connecting Classrooms initiative is an educational innovation that was designed to bring together students from the developing and industrialized worlds in order to collaborate on common concerns.  Students and teachers in participating schools used an online platform designed for group interaction and collaborative work.

The curriculum was designed to encourage discussion, support active dialogue about global issues affecting young people, and promote small group work within schools and between different countries. The programme familiarizes teachers with cutting edge methodologies based around group work and youth journalism.

Distinguished honourees

This year’s Devex Top 40 Development Innovators also include organizations such as Save the Children, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Devex will be recognizing UNICEF and fellow honourees at a reception at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC on 21 April. Chris Thomas, Chief Strategist at Intel, and Sonal Shah, White House Director of Social Innovation, will feature as speakers.



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