UNFPA ASRH Design Challenge and Mobile Hackathon
On 21st July 2015, young people from around the world, along with innovators, developers, partners and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) experts gathered for a three-day hackathon. The Hack For Youth was a collaborative event where participants developed mobile app solutions to promote young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Sponsored by UNFPA’s Innovation Fund, the hackathon was a response to a growing commitment to leverage information and communication technologies to empower young people, complimenting UNFPA’s ongoing work and empowering young leaders so they can be pivotal agents for the health and wealth of society. The hackathon is an outgrowth of the large number of proposals submitted to the Innovation Fund in the area of using ICT to promote the health of young people, and specifically designing mobile apps to engage with young people in order to improve access to SRH information and referral to services.
Using methods drawn from design thinking and creative problem solving, the hackathon encouraged participants to think outside-the-box and design unconventional mobile health (mHealth) solutions. The hackathon followed principles of “user-centered design”, actively engaging young people in the development of solutions that are based on their real needs and experiences.
Several partners contributed to the success of the hackathon including Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), Technovation Challenge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), SANA Mobile, Reach a Hand Uganda, UN Global Pulse/Pulse Lab Kampala and Praekelt Foundation.
RAN and the Technovation Challenge helped the hackathon organizers to identify young talented software developers who were teamed up with international developers in each of the seven hackathon teams. RAN Lab’s Director of innovations Dr. Dorothy Okello also joined the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on youth Mr. Ahmad Ahlendawi and three others on a panel of 5 judges who listened to the presentations of the teams to decide on the most innovative solutions.
1. First Place and People’s Choice Award – Team Put It On
The team designed a quiz app to dispel myths about sexual and reproductive health, with incentivizes (including airtime allowances). The app is specifically targeted for young people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
2. First Runner Up – Team Olympians for Tulumbe (O4T)
The team develop an app for the prevention and reporting of sexual harassment in- and out-of-school for girls age 14-20.
3. Second Runner Up – Team ASHRiCA (Asia and Africa + ASRH)
The team developed an interactive game to prevent child marriage, targeting parents and young adolescents aged 10-14.
Additional Teams (not in order of ranking)
4. Team Funky Omega
The team developed a website that would integrate information from diverse sources currently collecting health data and compile these data into a common web-portal that could be used by care providers, ministries and programmatic decision-makers alike.
5. Team Hacktivate Youth
The team developed an app to address young people’s privacy concerns which hinder their access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.
6. Team Lightning Youth
The team developed a website on sexual and reproductive health and legal literacy. The site is designed to specifically target 15-19 year olds to know their rights.
7. Team Hack10
The team developed a tech solution to reach socially isolated, rural, young first-time mothers and provide them with access to antenatal care and postpartum services.
Special recognition was given by MIT/Sana for technological soundness and innovation to team Hacktivate Youth (team #5 above).
As a follow up to the Hack For Youth, UNFPA Innovation Fund will provide seed funding for 3 to 4 teams to develop full prototypes. All Hack for Youth participants have been invited to refine and submit their proposals for consideration to the fund. All proposals must be for tech solutions to promote young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.