From the Ground to the Cloud: Day 2
Kate Kallot, AI Ecosystems Director at Arm, shares learnings and insights from meeting UNICEF Innovation in Malawi
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.
5 November 2019 — LILONGWE, MALAWI. Kate Kallot, AI Ecosystems Director at Arm is 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; Sustainability Manager, Fran Baker; and Developer Program Manager, Louise Paul, to identify more opportunities for co-created technology solutions that will accelerate the delivery of the Global Goals.
The mercury was already creeping towards 30°C as we boarded our early morning flight, ready for our journey from Blantyre to Lilongwe. (A last-minute schedule swap meant that Kasungu, where we’ll be learning about UNICEF’s exploration into wearable biomarkers for children, will now form part of tomorrow’s itinerary … keep an eye out for part three of this diary!)
I’d been intrigued to learn that Blantyre was founded in 1876 by missionaries from the Church of Scotland – presumably missionaries with a hankering for home, since it was named after the eponymous town of their motherland. Known as the commercial and industrial hub of Malawi, it’s the country’s second-largest city.
From Blantyre, it’s just a short, 30-minute flight to Lilongwe, Malawi’s bustling capital city – home to almost a million people, and the place where we would meet with UNICEF’s Malawi Country Representative, Rudolf Schwenk.
UNICEF in Malawi: Improving the Rights of Women and Children
Rudolf gave us a briefing on the organization’s five-year Programme of Cooperation, which aims to support national efforts to progressively realise the rights of women and children through improved child survival, development, protection and participation.
The programme is guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, through the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, and has three pillars:
- Early childhood development
- School-age children
- Child-friendly, inclusive and resilient communities
We were lucky enough to hear from each Pillar Lead, who explained their key focus points of health, education and community and the role that each will pay in achieving the programme’s goals. It was hugely inspiring to see how much they’ve already achieved and the dedication and enthusiasm with which they’re working towards their objective.
Progressive Technology in Action
We then heard about U-Report – a social messaging tool and data collection system developed by UNICEF to improve citizen engagement, inform leaders, and foster positive change. In Malawi, phones and text messaging are the most popular means of communication after radio. The program sends SMS polls and alerts to its participants, collecting real-time responses, and subsequently publishes gathered data. Issues polled include health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, youth unemployment, HIV/AIDS, and disease outbreaks.
Supported by Arm, U-Report has over 180,000 participants in Malawi, making it the fastest-growing U-report community in the world.
In March 2019, following Cyclone Idai, southern Malawi suffered from extensive flooding. Thousands of people in more than 14 districts were affected, with loss of livestock, homes and crops. It was estimated that 868,900 people were affected; more than 650 were injured, and 69 people lost their lives.
U-Report was used to disseminate lifesaving, educational information, including how to stay safe in flooding conditions and – most importantly – where to get help, along with a referral number for more information. Messages also addressed the dangerous side effects of heavy rains and flooding – notably, cholera outbreaks. When cases of cholera were confirmed in certain districts, U-Reporters received messages to help them take action and protect their health.
It’s been inspiring to see how innovative deployments of existing technology can have such an impact on people’s lives: sometimes, getting creative with what you have can be as effective as inventing the next big thing. It’s also made me proud to see the part that Arm technology plays in these solutions. Making great technology for great technology’s sake is one thing; seeing that technology making a real impact out in the world adds a whole new level of meaning to our work.
Arm technology is at the heart of a computing and connectivity revolution that is transforming the way people live and businesses operate. Our advanced, energy-efficient processor designs have enabled intelligent computing in more than 150 billion chips and our technology now securely power products from the sensor to the smartphone and the supercomputer. In combination with our IoT device, connectivity and data management platform, we are also enabling customers with powerful and actionable business insights that are generating new value from their connected devices and data. Together with 1,000+ technology partners we are at the forefront of designing, securing and managing all areas of compute from the chip to the cloud.