From the Ground to the Cloud: Day 1
Arm’s Kate Kallot and Louise Paul share their experience of visiting Malawi with UNICEF
Since 2015, UNICEF and Arm have been seeking to unlock the life-saving potential of technology to solve the most complex problems facing the world’s children, now and in the future. In Malawi, Arm has taken action through funding UNICEF Innovation programming focusing on child development and emergency preparedness.
In November 2019, a field trip to Malawi allowed Arm leaders to experience programmes firsthand, inspiring them to identify opportunities for co-created technology solutions that will help deliver on the UN’s Global Goals.
4 November 2019 — CHIKWAWA, MALAWI. Kate Kallot, AI Ecosystems Director at Arm, and Louise Paul, Developer Program Manager at Arm, are currently with UNICEF Innovation and UNICEF UK, along with President & COO, Graham Budd; Chief of Staff to the CEO, John Heinlein; Design Engineer, Hetansh Shah; and Sustainability Manager, Fran Baker.
Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries. The economy is rooted in agriculture, with a largely rural population. Annual flooding and drought severely affect livelihood and health. UNICEF is keen to show us what that means for people in everyday life, so that we can consider ways in which technology could make a tangible impact.
Today we’re in the Chikwawa District, a place severely affected by January’s Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai – one of the worst on record to affect Africa. First, we met with the District Commissioner’s team to discuss and understand the organisational side of disaster relief management: how they drive community resilience, the challenges they’ve faced and the preventative measures they’re considering for the future.
Having gained an understanding of the technical challenges, we then visited one of the villages most affected by the floods. We met with the Group Village Headman, who introduced us to families and were taken round schools.
It’s one thing to see the devastation caused by storms on the news or in photographs, but it’s quite different to see and hear from those who lived through it. We learned that the flooding and the drought cycle can have devastating effects for families, including severe malnutrition for those whose livelihood depends on subsistence agriculture.
"It was hard not to feel that these people have been given a raw deal, but that only strengthened our resolve to help improve their situation."
During the afternoon, we visited a village clinic to meet with a district clinical officer, who provided mobile clinic services during the floods. People like this are absolute heroes, and their determination makes a huge difference in crisis situations.
We were then able to see a data collection exercise using survey tools and drone-based data collection, part of a project that’s using AI to improve early warning systems and enable communities to be better prepared for emergencies – just one example of technology beginning to make an impact.
"The day provided us with a real insight into UNICEF's work in the region, and how they’re empowering local communities to manage sustainable solutions to their challenges by combining low- and high-tech innovation."
Our next stop is Kasungu, where we’ll be learning about UNICEF’s exploration into wearable biomarkers for children, monitoring vital mental and physiological health. Watch this space…
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