Burundian Adolescents Find Innovative Solutions to COVID-19

The Cartedo-UNICEF COVID-19 Challenge encourages young Burundians to find innovative solutions to COVID-19 in their communities

By Zineb Boujrada
As part of the #UpShift program, these young adolescents in the village of Mayengo, in southwestern Burundi, attend a life skills training module. They use tablets to do research to begin their new project.
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Barikumutima
15 September 2020

In partnership with the Cartedo application and 14 youth organizations, UNICEF launched a COVID-19 challenge for young people, which aims to give them the opportunity to explore ideas to solve real challenges and empower people and communities to become resilient to pandemics. Cartedo is an experiential learning platform that helps young people develop their employability and entrepreneurial skills by using innovation in addressing the challenges.

As part of the UNICEF-Cartedo partnership for COVID-19, the challenge provides an opportunity to develop the employability skills of adolescents and youth while contributing to global efforts to address the risk of COVID-19.

Using community and online outreach, partner organizations were able to reach 1,722 youth (50.8% of whom were female) over the course of one week (June 21-30). Working closely with communal entities, schools and churches, they ensured equal and equitable outreach to adolescents and youth in various constituencies across the country. Using a mixed channel integrating social and traditional media, Cartedo, in combination with U-Report doubled the traffic on U-Report's Facebook page in Burundi.

Burundi had the highest participation rate in the region with 670 solutions designed and submitted on the platform by adolescents. Adolescents have been active on social media by sharing their ideas, inviting their peers to do the same, and voting for solutions that meet the needs and interests of the community. Five solutions were selected to receive seed grants from UNICEF in Burundi for implementation. The awards were handed to the winners by the Prime Minister.

The winning projects focused on the following themes:

1.            The development of a platform for the continuity of children's education online by Chanelle Iteriteka, 16 years old;

2.            The creation of a rainwater filter by Johanna Bizindavyi, 16 years old;

3.            The production of a radio/TV program and the creation of a website dedicated to COVID-19 to raise awareness among vulnerable people by Elsie Jennifer Hakizimana, 21 years old;

4.            Promoting barrier gestures and the production of mini tutorial videos on how to make your own mask with materials easily available in Burundi. Then, explain its use: how to wear it, when, for how long…by Dedier Niyonkuru, 15 years old;

5.            The creation of a platform for volunteers who would like to conduct community risk communication on COVID-19 by Arnaud Kwizera, 26 years old;

Here is what the winners said about their experience with the COVID-19 challenge:

Dedier
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Barikumutima

DIDIER NIYONKURU, 15 years old, MWARO

Tutorial videos on how to make own mask and how to use it

"It was in the Jimbere club that I first learned about CARTEDO. As soon as I got home, I asked mom for the phone to look up the platform. It was easy and the challenge was simple.

I then proposed my idea to make for people who don't have masks, masks made with local material to protect themselves against COVID-19. I am happy that my idea was accepted and the award I received encourages me to start my project. »

ELSIE JENNIFER HAKIZIMANA, 21 years old, BUJUMBURA
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Barikumutima

ELSIE JENNIFER HAKIZIMANA, 21 years old, BUJUMBURA

Production of radio and television programs

"A friend who works in a youth association called REJA informed me about CARTEDO. I then found that it was easy to access, and I participated in the challenge to contribute to innovative ideas against COVID-19.

I had noticed that I and my community were finding it difficult to find the right information on COVID-19. So I proposed a series of radio and television programs and a website to provide information to the community. I will use the award I received to carry out this project.

I, as Jennifer and as a young person, am aware that it is my responsibility to inform and protect others. There are few people affected in my country, but it can affect others or even my family. It is important to have the right information to better stop the spread of COVID-19. »

JOHANNA BIZINDAVYI, 16 years old, BUJUMBURA
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Barikumutima

JOHANNA BIZINDAVYI, 16 years old, BUJUMBURA

Creation of a rainwater filter

"It was within the SCOUTS movement, in my unit, that I learned about CARTEDO. When I got home, I tried it and it was interesting and easy. The challenge was to come up with ideas for solutions against COVID-19.

My project focuses on people who don't have access to water while it is very advisable to wash regularly with soap and water. I offer them a rainwater filter. I am very happy that this idea is among the 5 best. With the 1000 dollars, I will be able to design the model of this filter.

My contribution against COVID-19, as a young person, is essential to stop this global pandemic. »

ARNAUD KWIZERA, 26 years old, BUJUMBURA
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Barikumutima

ARNAUD KWIZERA, 26 years old, BUJUMBURA

Creation of a platform for volunteers against VIDOC-19

"I got to know the CARTEDO platform through the social network of a local association, then I joined their WhatsApp group where they explained how it works. Afterwards I tried it. I found the platform very easy to use. 

I submitted my project, which consisted of creating a platform of volunteers trained on COVID-19 prevention measures. Afterwards, I submitted it. Today I am happy that my idea has been chosen among the best. I am also happy with the award I received. I think that the 1000 dollars will help me with the logistics of training these volunteers for the implementation of my project. I hope that this money will help a lot to be able to set up my project and execute it.

I also think that the involvement of young people in the fight against COVID is very important. »

CHANELLE ITERITEKA, 16 years old, RUTANA
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Barikumutima

CHANELLE ITERITEKA, 16 years old, RUTANA

Development of a platform for the continuity of children's online education

"I learned about CARTEDO at the Jimbere club at our school. Since I didn't have a phone with me directly, I Googled it when I got home. It wasn't complicated at all. I was then able to submit my project idea. 

Today I am very proud to have participated and to be among the top 5. With COVID-19, we saw students stopping classes abroad and coming back home. So I want to propose a solution for them to be able to continue learning online. The 1000 dollars that I received will help me start my project: I will buy a computer, set up the software and raise other funds to finalize the project.

As a young person, it's very important to help find solutions to the different problems that affect our community like COVID-19. I would urge other young people to never fail to express their ideas. »