UNICEF Innovation: Annual Report 2014

UNICEF Innovation: Annual Report 2014

girl smiling into the camera


Seven years ago, we spotted a new trend in Senegal, Nepal, Paraguay, and elsewhere: In remote villages without electricity, people had started using mobile phones. This marked the beginning of today’s UNICEF Innovation team. It was the beginning of our journey in using emerging technologies to deliver better results for children.

In the 1980s and 1990s, UNICEF had led the child survival revolution raising immunization rates from 15% to 80%, and helping almost 2 billion people gain access to safe drinking water. But in the late 2000s, UNICEF and other international development organizations were not yet using new technologies or new design practices to deliver programmes on the ground.

We saw the incredible growth rates in mobile usage an opportunity to strengthen UNICEF’s mandate around the world. But it was not yet clear where to start or how to do it. We knew that we needed to help solve concrete problems experienced by real people, not just building imagined solutions at our New York headquarters and then deploy them. We needed to team up with governments, partners, and end users in countries to come up with meaningful and sustainable solutions. In this annual report you will see a wide variety of projects, because the challenges children face vary from region to region, and country to country.

New approaches require experimentation and an honest evaluation of success and failure. Many of the initiatives you see in the report were failures at the beginning and took many iterations to become meaningful solutions for children.

Through this experience of developing these solutions, we have been able to extract key principles that have been built off the the collective effort of over seven years experience. As you go through this report, you will see how these principles are applied to specific problems in specific places. The UNICEF Innovation team is spread across five continents where we work directly with the people we are serving.

Our team has grown substantially since its humble beginnings in 2007. It is a privilege to work with a team of over 75 talented individuals, and the larger UNICEF family of 12,000 colleagues working in locations that range from Afghanistan to Zambia. It is their work that makes these results possible.

cover photo of 2014 annual report only text
Erica Kochi, Chris Fabian, Sharad Sapra, Kristoffer Gandrup-Marino
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