Youth innovating solutions for children in Tanzania
University students develop innovative solutions to tackle pressing issues impacting children
On a radiant Saturday morning, late July 2023, at the University of Dar es Salaam's College of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), in an area, now known as ‘Silicon Dar’, a hub for innovators, tech enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs in Dar es Salaam city, the air was filled with excitement.
A group of university students specializing in computer science and computer engineering were showcasing their innovative solutions. Their mission? To address critical challenges affecting children and young people in Tanzania, such as health, HIV/AIDS, unemployment, education with a focus on life skills and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in schools, and nutrition-related issues like malnutrition and diabetes. The event was part of the Youth for Children (Y4C) Innovation Hub practical training and internship programme, a collaboration between UNICEF and the University of Dar es Salaam's College of ICT (CoICT).
I am delighted to see the Y4C project enhancing our youth's ability to acquire skills that can help tackle various challenges in our country.
Y4C's goal is to help young people develop their talents and come up with creative ideas.
Here's how it works: University students get interesting problems to solve from UNICEF and partners based on the challenges children face in Tanzania. These students use a special way of designing things called Human-Centred Design to create solutions to these problems that not only work well but are sustainable and accessible.
The Human-Centred Design (HCD) approach is designing things with people in mind, like products, websites, or services that work well and are easy to use. To do this, designers focus on understanding what people need and want, involving them in the design process, and testing and improving solutions based on their feedback. So, instead of just making something that looks nice or is technically impressive, HCD is about making sure it's truly useful and user-friendly for the people who will use it.
Joining Y4C and being part of a community of like-minded individuals, felt fantastic!
Among the 19 innovative products showcased, some noteworthy examples include:
- The Malnutrition Visualizer: This tool captures real-time adolescent nutrition data for individuals aged 10 to 19.
- The Out-of-School Adolescent Management System: This system aids in the efficient management of UNICEF's Integrated Programme for Out-of-School Adolescents, a programme initiated with the Government of Tanzania in 2019.
- Kazi Kazi (which means Work Work): Bridging the gap between youth and companies seeking informal employment.
- SMART Girls: Delivering ICT training to secondary school students in Dar es Salaam.
Perhaps one of the standout innovations was an app developed for the needs of people with disabilities, providing information on accessible WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) facilities using Google Maps.
During the award ceremony for the graduating students of the Y4C training programme, Dr. Mercy Mbise, the Head of the Department at CoICT, expressed her confidence in the graduates. "Through innovation, growth, and nurturing youth, we strongly believe that everything you have learned will enable you to address challenges in your community, and we hope you will inspire and influence your peers."
With your support, we can scale remarkable innovations like these and support the youth driving change for children in Tanzania!