“ICT for disaster resilience (ICT4DR)” #Hack4Climate2016

The start to mid-week, Monday 28th to Wednesday 30th November 2016 saw the first ever Climate Challenge Hackathon take place in IGAD- Climate Prediction and Application Center (ICPAC), Nairobi Kenya. “It was gratifying to have been a keen and committed member of a team which initially held discussions with the team from IGAD and UNDP deliberating all necessary to inaugurate the IGAD Climate Resilience Innovation Hub in Nairobi, Kenya” shared Harriet Adong, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) www.ranlab.org Communications Manager. This Hub would incubate and take care of the innovations being developed in the greater Horn of Africa. As a precursor to the launch of the hub, part of the RAN team comprising Dr. Julius Sentongo, RAN Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (EA RILab) Program Coordinator, Brian Ndyaguma, In-Charge Business Modelling and Innovations Scaling, Nathan Tumuhamye, Director EA RILab, Dr. Teferi Daba Lemma, Innovation Officer at RAN’s Horn of Africa RILab, Deborah Naatujuna, Engagement Manager and Harriet Adong, Communications Manager, in partnership with IGAD- ICPAC http://www.icpac.net/  team facilitated the Climate Hackathon which attracted over 100 participants including 10 Innovator teams from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. These teams comprised of young, energetic and committed men and women, under the guidance of experienced multidisciplinary mentors worked hard hacking all through the two and a half days for solutions to address climate related challenges. UNDP, IGAD-ICPAC, Safaricom, RAN and Kenya Airways closely partnered to deliver an enlightening hackathon. Teams from these institutions also continuously severed as mentors guiding the hackers all through the event.

The opening (Monday November 28, 2016) and climax (Wednesday November 30, 2016) of this event were attended by key partners including Government, Private Sector, United Nations, Red Cross Society, UNDP, Kenya Airways, Safaricom, Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and Nairobi Meteriological Centre. Dr. Guleid Artan, Director ICPA graced the opening of this hackathon and in his remarks noted that he was optimistic that all the brains that had been gathered in the auditorium were capable of coming up with real tangible solutions to several of the community challenges related to the hackathon theme. He wished all the hackers well, commended their efforts and the work being done by the mentors and judges serving during the hackathon. Motivated innovators continued to hacked all through the afternoon of day one and whole of day two developing innovative solutions to address climate change related challenges.

On Day 3 of the hackathon, innovator teams were deeply engrossed, all silently working hard preparing their presentations ready to pitch to the audience all the proposed innovative solutions. “These innovators have really worked so hard through-out these 3 days and each deserves a win” commented one judge. During the presentations, each team used not more than 10 minutes to articulately pitch their solutions clearly highlighting the problem and proposed solution to address the same. A team of 7 cross disciplinary expert judges from different institutions including the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), ICPAC, ACT Alliance and Red Cross Society had been convened to keenly listen in to the pitches and later identify the top three potentially most transformative innovative ideas. It was after the judges’ verdict that the audience then took on the task to determine the first, second and third team by casting their votes. “Count the votes here in the auditorium, in front of all of us” chanted the audience. Interestingly, the judges constituted an electoral commission to openly count the votes in front of all participants as had been requested by the anxious audience. At closure, all the innovators received certificates of participation and the three top teams were awarded cash prizes (First team-USD1,500, Second-USD-1,000 and Third-USD 500 only). These teams will also receive incubation support from ICPAC and partners directed towards further developing their solutions.  Additionally, two lead volunteers in putting together the event were also recognized.

During the closing ceremony, several dignitaries shared insights about Innovation appreciating the new ideas which had been generated throughout the 3 days energetic hackathon. A representative from Safaricom, Ms. Veronica Ogeto-Tchoketch, Head of Innovation stressed the need to provide platforms for a lot more innovations in Africa and beyond highlighting the need for partnerships in pushing these efforts forward. “We need to see these innovators take their solutions to the market” he added. Nathan Tumuhanye, the Director of RAN’s Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab referred to this hackathon as ‘a tip of the ice bag’ sharing with all participants that the network is open and committed to partnership directed towards further supporting innovation  for development. He said “Innovation is about the motivation you have to take your idea forward”.  While Ms. Roselyn Ojallo, Deputy Director, Kenya Meteorological Department re-echoed the challenge of communicating all this rich information generated from the hackathon and other sources in a more easy to interpret and understand language for all. “Let us work together to transform East Africa, the IGAD communities and the world at large. Use diagrams, infographics, games, videos and pictures among others to easily and effectively communicate all this important information” She urged all participants. The Chief Guest at this ceremony, Col. (Rtd.) Nathan Kigotho, Director NDOC alsoemphasized the need for all partners to embrace offering capacity building to the youth in order to enhance their innovativeness and creativeness. “Let us all take full advantage of these community challenges to remain creative and relevant” she stressed to a full house of participants.“The information generated by all the innovators and hackathon participants is indeed rich for the transformation of the communities in need” he added.

A snap-shot in to the top three teams

First place-Team Nandozi (USD 1,500) from Uganda, developing a mobile gaming application that trains young people to save carbon credits and save the environment.

Second-Team Nsikizi (USD 1,000) from Kenya are collecting information in real time and disseminating it to the community in a more user friendly way. Moving forward, this system is one which might be adopted by the Meteriological centre immediately,

Third-Team Agri Gap (USD 500) from Uganda, they are collecting and re-packaging information usually collected at Meteorological Centres and disseminating it to the farmers. This is information on farm inputs, tips etc.

This hackathon also provided the RAN team with an opportunity to physically engage with other potentially helpful partners to support Innovation. Key to note was the discussion with the Safaricom representative at the Hackathon for some of the innovations under incubation at RAN to benefit from Safaricom’s Innovations Department. Discussions for possibilities for partnerships with all the potential partners sighted at this event are ongoing noting that all were interested in engaging with the innovations under incubation at RAN. The RAN team also met with …

The conversation was shared live on twitter #Hack4Climate2016 @AfricaResilient.








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