UNICEF COVID-19 innovation challenge: Nigerian youth empowered to tackle COVID-19 crisis

Working with partners like Cartedo and Good Wall, UNICEF Nigeria created the COVID-19 innovation challenge, a unique platform that empowers youth to offer solutions to the impact of the pandemic

Rita Abiodun, UNV, UNICEF Nigeria
Chukwuma, a participant in the innovation challenge
UNICEF Nigeria/2020/Chukwuma
24 June 2020

The spread of COVID-19 and its impact on humanity has ushered in a new age - an age where mask wearing is the new normal, lockdown and restriction of movement is a public health culture and physical distancing outside of homes is not a strange sight.

As the world struggles to adapt to these measures, the resulting societal disruption has led to a number of challenges, ranging from stalled education to job losses - especially in resource-constrained countries - and has forced many around the world to seek new ways to survive.

UNICEF believes that young people possess unique viewpoints to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the agency asked Nigerian youth to help find creative solutions to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities.

Working with government, private sector and global partners*, UNICEF Nigeria created the COVID-19 innovation challenge, a unique platform that drives awareness among young audiences, empowers youth to offer solutions to the impact of the pandemic and gives them opportunities to develop future-ready employability skills.

Chukwuma, one of the participants, spoke of his experience, “I found the COVID-19 innovation challenge very educative. It was also intellectually engaging and tasking."

A young participant of the innovation challenge
UNICEF Nigeria/2020/Chukwuma
Chukwuma, a participant in the COVID-19 innovation challenge

"I am always excited about projects and initiatives that involve the improvement of the livelihood and well-being of people because it gives me the opportunity to offer solutions. The innovation challenge gave me the platform to share my views, as well as contribute my quota towards tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.”


The challenge, open to anyone between the ages of 14 – 35, asks participants to generate several possible solutions and prototype them for possible application.

“My solution was centered on the use of solar panels in establishing sustainable water supply systems in communities where access to water is inadequate and unsafe for human use and consumption,” Chukwuma said.

While generating innovative ideas from Nigerian youth, the challenge builds their design thinking skills. Participants receive access to mentorship opportunities and possible job matching. Every week, participants with the most outstanding idea win a cash prize of ₦100,000.

Chukwuma’s idea emerged the best in the second week of the challenge and he received the cash reward for his creative solution.

“This challenge taught me to think creatively and critically through problems while applying the design thinking methodology. I want to thank UNICEF and its partners for this initiative, and for finding my solution worthy of a reward,” Chukwuma added.

Youth have a critical role to play in helping people and communities become more pandemic-resilient. The COVID-19 innovation challenge provides the perfect opportunity for young people in Nigeria to offer innovative solutions.



*Partners include the Goodwall, Botnar Foundation, National Centre for Disease Control, National Information Technology Development Agency, Office for ICT Innovation Entrepreneurship, CC Hub, Lagos Innovates, Jobberman, Ventures Platform, Saed Connect, and in close collaboration with Generation Unlimited and U-Report.