UNICEF’s Response to the Horn of Africa malnutrition crisis is named Winner in the Rapid Response Category of Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards

The seventh annual awards honor creative solutions to some of the biggest issues facing us today.

02 May 2023
Halima is eating RUTF to recover from malnutrition.
UNICEF Somalia/Hill
Halima is eating RUTF to recover from malnutrition.

MOGADISHU, 2 May 2023 — The winners of Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced today, honoring sustainable designs, innovative products, bold social initiatives, and other creative projects that are changing the way we work, live, and interact with the world.

UNICEF’s Response to the Horn of Africa malnutrition crisis is named the winner in the Rapid Response Category and also received an Honorable Mention in the Enduring Impact: 15+ Years in Business category.

When it comes to rapid response, a quick onset malnutrition emergency is as rapid and real as it gets. In 2022, four consecutive failed rainy seasons destroyed crops and caused unusually high numbers of livestock deaths and loss of livelihoods. Lack of water and grasslands have forced families out of their homes and incited conflict between areas. 

UNICEF harnessed every tool of its wide-reaching assets to mobilize and save lives as quickly as possible. In this situation, it meant rushing supplies to the countries they’re needed most, mobilizing capital to buy more Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) - a product that has faced price increases recently, due to supply chain challenges - engaging in urgent advocacy with partner governments, and using the world’s media and social media channels to shine a light on what’s happening. Even now, UNICEF continue to respond to the crisis.

This year’s World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 45 winners, 216 finalists, and more than 300 honorable mentions—with health, climate, energy, and AI among the most popular categories. A panel of Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 2,200 entries across urban design, education, nature, politics, technology, corporate social responsibility, and more.

Fast Company’s Spring 2023 issue will showcase some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and forward-thinking companies that are actively tackling global challenges. The solutions cover everything from water reuse in urban environments and modular housing to an initiative combating book bans and a program that spotlights trans-friendly salons around the world. 

“The star of this response is RUTF. UNICEF is the global leader in its procurement, purchasing and distributing an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the world's supply,” said Victor Chinyama, UNICEF Somalia Chief of Communications. “UNICEF has been on the ground from the beginning, providing life-saving interventions as part of its response to the drought to tackle deficiencies, as well as additional support, including cash transfers, health and educational access.”

“It’s thrilling to see the creativity and innovation that are so abundant among this year’s honorees,” says Fast Company editor-in-chief Brendan Vaughan. “While it’s easy to feel discouraged by the state of the world, the entrepreneurs, companies, and nonprofits featured in this package show the limitless potential to address society’s most urgent problems. Our journalists have highlighted some of the most exciting and impactful work being done today—from housing to equity to sustainability—and we look forward to seeing not only how these projects evolve but how they inspire others to develop solutions of their own.”

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

Media contacts

Victor Chinyama
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Somalia
Tel: +252613375885

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing 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.

UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has over 300 staff working in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Dollow, Garowe, Hargeisa and also Nairobi, Kenya. Together with 200 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, and responds to emergencies and supports peace-building and development.

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