(7 December 2021) With social and economic inequalities increasing and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals lagging in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, rigorous research has never mattered more. To underscore the value of high quality research, UNICEF Innocenti showcases the most rigorous, innovative and impactful research produced by UNICEF offices worldwide every year in Best of UNICEF Research (BOUR).
Now in its ninth edition, BOUR 2021 features 11 research reports covering a wide range of priorities for children and young people—from child marriage in humanitarian settings in South-East Asia, to HIV viral load suppression in Eastern and Southern Africa, to perceptions of poverty in Ghana.
On 1st December, UNICEF Innocenti hosted the inaugural Best of UNICEF Research Awards Online Ceremony to award the teams behind the top three research pieces. The winners were selected by an independent external panel of high-level research and policy experts.
“Over the past two years the COVID pandemic has underscored the value of evidence and research, to finding solutions to global challenges”, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore stated in her introductory remarks. She was joined by the Director of UNICEF Innocenti, Gunilla Olsson, as well as representatives from the eleven finalist research teams from UNICEF country and regional offices around the world.
UNICEF China were awarded bronze for their research addressing the gap in data on China’s national expenditure on adolescent healthcare. Surveying over 2,000 healthcare institutions, the work was selected for its rigorous methodology, the applicability of its findings across contexts, and its potential for policy uptake and government ownership. “Research is an important first step that is much needed, in terms of creating the change that we all hope to do in our work every day”, said lead researcher Anuradha Narayan.
The silver award was presented to UNICEF Mozambique for its study on travel times to healthcare facilities in the aftermath of two cyclones that struck Mozambique in 2019. This valuable tool can be scaled in different humanitarian settings to better understand the effect of climate-related hazards on access to healthcare. The findings have already been used to inform the reconstruction of Mozambique’s infrastructure and healthcare facilities.
UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office won the gold award for its study examining the learning outcomes of 29,000 Grade 5 children across six countries in the region. The rigorous data analysis, co-created with governments, has the potential to be a powerful tool for improving children’s achievements. Accepting the award, Francisco Benavides said “to advance learning, children need to master basic firsts. They need to learn to read, so they can read to learn. They need to gain skills and self-confidence to interact with their communities, to understand the world.” A second phase of the project will evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on learning outcomes.
“Research helps us understand children’s most complex problems and overcome barriers to progress”, said ED Fore. “Research and evidence are critical to UNICEF’s influence and impact. It is up to you - the researchers - to make every effort that your sterling research is maximized, shared widely and integrated into action for children.”
About the Best of UNICEF Research (BOUR)
Calls for submissions for the tenth edition of BOUR are set to open in January 2022.
For more information on BOUR and for the opportunity to celebrate research that is tangibly impacting children and young people’s lives, being carried out by your office, consult our website, social media channels, and the BOUR submissions page.