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Kenya, 13 May 2016: UNICEF partners with University of Nairobi to innovate for children and young children

UNICEF partners with University of Nairobi to innovate for children and young people

NAIROBI, Kenya, 13 May 2016 – The University of Nairobi and UNICEF have announced a collaborative partnership to find sustainable and innovative homegrown solutions to the challenges faced by children, adolescents and youth in Kenya and across the world.

This groundbreaking partnership was officially launched during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University and UNICEF at the main campus in Nairobi. During the Ceremony, the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter M. F. Mbithi, and UNICEF Kenya Acting Representative, Dr. Pirkko Heinonen, shared a joint commitment to lead their institutions in coming up with innovative ideas that address the bottlenecks and barriers faced by the children and adolescents from the most deprived and vulnerable communities.

“Eight out of ten children are deprived from access to basic services in Kenya especially in hard to reach areas,” said Dr. Heinonen. “Over 16 million children in Kenya do not have access to clean drinking water and sanitation, education, health, nutrition and shelter. The Government, public and private sectors, and academic institutions like the University of Nairobi must work together to make a change for those that need it most.”

The University of Nairobi is the largest and oldest university in Kenya with over 80,000 students. In its 2013 – 2018 Strategic Plan, the university has identified research, innovation and technology as the key planning themes and priorities. Mainstreaming innovations for youth and supporting youth-led innovation is critical especially since over half of the global population is under thirty. As the institutions that are training the next generation of leaders, researchers, designers, and policy-makers, universities are an essential part of this landscape.

Prof. Mbithi said, “We talk about innovation very often and somehow it is taken lightly. On the contrary we see it as a tedious process of accurately identifying problems and challenges in society, systematically creating solutions to those challenges and deploying the appropriate solutions that will have a meaningful impact on people and society. We also realize that we are much more effective when we work with partners on this journey.”

During the ceremony, Director of the University Computing for Development Lab, Dr. Tonny Omwansa and UNICEF Kenya Chief of Social Policy Mr. Ousmane Niang, jointly highlighted various initiatives the two institutions will collaborate in the next two years:

  1. Nairobi Innovation Week: A flagship yearly event initiated by the university in collaboration with partners to help grow and advocate for innovation from the Global South. http://www.innovationweek.co.ke
  2. Youth Engagement platform: Young people led program designed to empower adolescents and youth to speak out on issues that they care about in their communities, encouraging citizen-led development to create positive change.
  3. Data lab for children: One stop information shop on the status of children in Kenya in close coordination with the Government of Kenya and other relevant stakeholders.
  4. Nairobi Design Thinking School: Course designed to equip young entrepreneurs and innovators with the necessary skill sets to develop products and services based on the users need, including children. [http://ndts.c4dlab.ac.ke/]
  5. Africa Technology and Innovation Accelerator: A multi-disciplinary technology accelerator that incubates technology driven startups for both early stage and growth stage.

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About University of Nairobi
The University of Nairobi (UoN) is a collegiate research university based in Nairobi. It is one of the largest universities in Kenya. For more information visit: www.uonbi.ac.ke

About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org/kenya

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For more details kindly contact the innovation focal points:

Dr. Tonny Omwansa, Director of C4D Lab (Head of Innovation), University of Nairobi, tomwansa@uonbi.ac.ke

Minu Limbu, Information Management Specialist (Innovation Focal Point), UNICEF Kenya, mlimbu@unicef.org

Ousmane Niang, Chief of Social Policy, UNICEF Kenya, oniang@unicef.org

 

 
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