Logo UNICEF Innocenti
Office of Research-Innocenti
menu icon

Evidence for Action Blog

157 - 165 of 165
Impact evaluations reap long term benefits for children
Blog

Impact evaluations reap long term benefits for children

We have an obligation to invest where it makes the most difference for children. But how do we decide what will reap the greatest benefits in the long term? The dilemma of whether to invest in services that provide immediate benefits, or in evidence generating initiatives for the long term, is a difficult one. The answer requires a careful analysis of the cost of not addressing immediate needs versus the potential future benefits of policy and budgetary change brought about by research and advocacy. As countries climb up the GDP ladder, UNICEF’s assistance is less critical for basic service delivery. Increasingly, what decision makers from low and middle income countries seek is knowledge and evidence for the design of their own programmes and policies. Investment in sound data, research, and evaluation is an essential component of guiding important decisions for years – and perhaps generations – to come. The Impact Evaluation Series of methodological briefs and instructional videos just released by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, is a contribution to building a “culture of research” at UNICEF and strengthening our capacity to provide evidence-based advice to partners. The series covers a range of impact evaluation designs and methods, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs). It discusses their pros and cons, ethical concerns and practical issues. The series is primarily aimed at UNICEF programme staff but is also available to the public. How often do we in UNICEF conduct rigorous impact evaluations and invest in evidence for the long term? What are some of the benefits when we do? The Transfer Project is an example of how UNICEF’s investment in research contributes to evidence-based advice which motivates and empowers governments to effectively support children. This multi-country project runs experimental and quasi-experimental impact evaluations in sub-Saharan Africa, repeatedly providing evidence to governments about the positive effects of social cash transfers on children and their families. The methodological design of choice is RCT, often considered the ‘gold standard’ of impact evaluation. It provides powerful responses to questions of causality by proving that an impact is achieved as a result of a specific intervention (e.g. the cash transfer) and nothing else. In Zambia for example, an RCT conducted in three districts from 2010 to 2013 showed that the government’s cash transfer programme led to a wide range of health and nutrition benefits. It also contributed to an increase in productive activity, and ownership of livestock. Encouraged by this evidence, the Government of Zambia boosted its budget allocation for the transfer programme from US$3.5 million in 2013 to 30 million in 2014, with larger amounts expected in the coming years as the programme expands. The overall cost of the evaluation of US$5m will ultimately leverage US$150m for children over the next five years. Similarly in Kenya, the evaluation of the government’s cash transfer for orphans and vulnerable children programme showed impacts on consumption, diet diversity and secondary school enrolment. It was an important part of the dialogue on the scale-up of the programme which now reaches over 160,000 families. The government’s own contribution to the program increased from less than US$1m in 2006 to US$12.5m in 2013. The evaluation itself cost US$2m and leveraged an increase in US$10m from the treasury for the programme, securing benefits for children for years to come. RCTs can be costly. They require a large sample size and cannot be undertaken retrospectively. The random assignment they require can sometimes be perceived as unethical or politically sensitive and in such cases other options, such as quasi-, or non-experimental designs for evaluating impact need to be considered. The new Impact Evaluation Series briefs outline different options for conducting an impact evaluation, are written in accessible language, and use examples from UNICEF’s own work. They are accompanied by animated videos particularly useful to impact evaluation novices or for training purposes. The overarching aim of these tools is to contribute to building UNICEF’s capacity in research and evaluation, improving our ability to provide evidence-based, strategic guidance on children for the long term. The materials were written by international evaluation experts from RMIT University, BetterEvaluation and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). An advisory board comprised of UNICEF staff from the Evaluation Office, Data & Analytics section, the Programme Division and many Country and Regional Office guided the quality and relevance of the work. We hope that the materials will contribute to more UNICEF-supported, high-quality impact evaluations, and to more evidence-based decision-making by our partners. Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa is Chief of Social Policy & Economic Analysis, at UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti and a Principal Investigator on the Transfer Project. Nikola Balvin is Knowledge Management Specialist at the Office of Research – Innocenti and was responsible for coordinating the Impact Evaluation Series.
Best of UNICEF Research 2014
Blog

Best of UNICEF Research 2014

UNICEF staff are so preoccupied with the increasingly complex task of assisting the most vulnerable children that they don’t often realize the extent and quality of research their offices and programmes throughout the world carry out. UNICEF is actually a major global research organization with hundreds of research projects carried out each year to underpin its programmes, policy and advocacy work. Its work addresses new and emerging development challenges, and advances knowledge on children with relevance often well beyond the local country context. In order to showcase the best of all UNICEF research efforts, the Office of Research-Innocenti undertakes an annual selection process carried out across the organization: in country and regional offices, at headquarters divisions and National Committees. This year 79 entries were officially submitted and a total of 65 met the publicized acceptance standard developed for the process. The range of themes covered and geographic representation among the finalists was impressive. Following a rigorous internal review process twelve finalist entries were shortlisted for special recognition from a very strong group of submissions. Summaries of these twelve research studies have now been published by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, and are officially part of its catalogue. These 12 finalists were further reviewed by an independent panel of experts who are familiar with UNICEF research but do not work for the organization. They highlighted the finalists below: the first two for their potential for impact, two for policy relevance, and the last two for merit and policy relevance at the country level. Here they are described in the words of the external assessors: The Adolescent girls vulnerability index (Uganda): “Its strength is in the pioneering of the development of an adolescent girls’ vulnerability index and the potential for it to be replicated across countries and allow for an objective comparison measure.” Zambia: Social Cash Transfer 24 Month Impact Report: “This innovative piece of research evaluating a non-conditional cash transfer scheme was carried out with a well-developed conceptual framework, presenting complex, insightful and policy-relevant findings in an engaging and articulate manner.” Preventing Exclusion from the child support grant (South Africa): “The study uses a strong design and has the potential to be replicated in other settings to identify factors that influence social assistance exclusion.” Effects of the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme on children and adolescents: “A major strength is the mixed methods approach starting with quantitative data contrasting intervention and comparison groups followed by qualitative data using purposive selection and participatory approaches.” Effect of Iron Deficiency Anaemia in pregnancy on child mental development in Rural China: “This very focused study - published in the journal Paediatrics - takes a longitudinal observational approach to explore the effect of iron deficiency anaemia among mothers on cognitive and mental development of their children.” Policy Impact Analysis: Additional support to students from vulnerable groups in Pre-university education (Serbia): “In many ways, this is a bold and path-breaking piece, and highly relevant within Serbia’s current political and social policy agendas. The study combines a mix of very detailed mapping of institutional initiatives within the country and comparative analysis of evidence of education reform in OECD countries applied to the Serbian context.” You can find the complete Best of UNICEF Research 2014 publication with summaries of the 12 shortlisted works here, on the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti website, with links to the full research papers.
Children of the Recession – The “Great Leap Backward”
Blog

Children of the Recession – The “Great Leap Backward”

Just over six years since the sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers, the global economic crisis still makes news throughout the world. The impact on households goes beyond headlines. Hardly any family has not felt the pain of the Great Recession. Children of course experience it most acutely. They are also at greatest risk of suffering lasting damage from it. Lasting damage could well be the dominant theme of the new Innocenti Report Card “Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries.” The Innocenti Report Card is the one UNICEF flagship publication devoted to children in the developed world. This Report Card does not deliver many passing grades. It offers a sobering look at how child poverty has changed compared to fixed 2008 levels, introducing a more sensitive measure of how children have fared since that critical point. There is real concern that widening poverty gaps, young people not in education, employment or training and staggering declines in years of income progress are causing long term structural changes that will set children back significantly in the developed world. In 23 out of 41 countries child poverty has increased. In a number of countries the increases were sizable, especially in the Mediterranean region. In 18 countries child poverty declined, but these are mostly the smaller economies in the group, with a notable exception being Germany. Unusual, even for the Innocenti Report Card series, is a special section ranking US States’ changes in child poverty. There are some surprising results. US economic stimulus worked fairly well and most likely prevented large numbers of children from falling into poverty. In some traditionally poorer States like Mississippi and West Virginia, child poverty improved, while going up significantly in Idaho and Nevada. Smaller increases in some larger states masked sizable numbers of newly poor children such as in California (221,000) and Florida (183,000). A major takeaway from Report Card 12 is that the economic crisis has been a recession about children. The most telling data confirming this is the Report’s look at how different vulnerable groups were affected. In 28 out of 31 European countries the poverty rate has increased more rapidly (or has decreased more slowly) for the young than for the elderly. Not surprisingly, youth employment has taken a huge hit across the developed world. The more frightening news has to do with “NEETs,” or, 15 to 24 year olds not in education, employment or training. NEET rates stayed the same or rose in 35 out of the 41 countries in the report. “Great Leap Backward” is a telling way to sum up the impact of the recession on children. This really hits hard when you read how many years of lost income progress many OECD countries have sustained. Between 2008 and 2012, Greek families lost the equivalent of 14 years of progress; Ireland, Luxembourg and Spain lost a full decade; and four other nations lost almost as much.
Climate change – why a children’s rights perspective matters
Blog

Climate change – why a children’s rights perspective matters

Climate change is not only about weather. Climate change is about people, their rights and future. A truly global challenge of our time. The world is struggling with huge problems like poverty eradication, conflict and discrimination. The majority of people living on Earth still lack decent conditions of life and protection of their fundamental rights. How can climate change matter? How can the rights of future generations become a priority? Perhaps there will always be challenges considered more immediate. But what if we start interpreting climate change as a global phenomenon of inter-generational justice? Action, or better, inaction, becomes a form of injustice which feeds on and perpetuates inequality, and forces those who are least responsible to pay the highest price: in decades to come. Future generations will have no choice but to swallow whole the injustices of current generations towards them. Climate change should be forcing us to balance the rights and claims of persons living today against those of persons in the future. The ethical construct of inter-generational justice could help us find answers for some of the most pressing questions about governance of resources, the rights of children and environmental sustainability. The new report The Challenges of Climate Change: Children on the Front Line published by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, contains an illuminating discussion which could help us approach the defining issue of our times. Climate change challenges children’s rights by threatening their fundamental condition: our planet. Human action is putting a strain on planetary boundaries, without being able to predict with certainty the final consequences for the generations yet unborn. In a world where the world itself is at risk, perhaps inter-generational justice is an idea whose time has come. Forecasts do not allow any reasonable prediction beyond 2100. Sceptics may say that it is too far in the future for concern today. From a children’s rights perspective; however, minimizing that degree of uncertainty is the ultimate reason for struggling every day for their full recognition and realization. Children are the largest and most vulnerable group to the effects of climate change. Join in the conversation on climate change and its impact children, on social media with #right2Bcool. Experts say that more than 80 percent of climate-related deaths in developing countries are among children. Most of their rights are threatened every time a new disaster occurs. Putting in place child-centred mitigation and adaptation measures is certainly a good way of responding, but taking a child rights point of view also implies broadening the perspective from the immediate present to the distant future. There is also another good reason to frame climate change as a child rights issue. If we accept the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s assertion that children are holders of rights, we must accept that children become partners of critical importance in understanding and acting on climate change issues in their communities and in coping with its challenges. They can be actors for global change in the way we treat our environment, manage resources and set the foundations for future human society. Children and young people today constitute the generation that will be required to deliver the very deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that will be essential in the coming decades. Yet they are a constituency that has been effectively ignored when it comes to high-level climate discussions. Patrizia Faustini is a Senior Communication Assistant, UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti
Cash transfers in Africa – generating evidence on the impact
Blog

Cash transfers in Africa – generating evidence on the impact

The Great Recession of 2008 prompted many traditional donor countries to cut back foreign aid budgets. Pressure from lawmakers is now greater than ever for aid dollars to go further, and for development programmes to prove that aid is linked to tangible changes in the lives of children in the poorest regions of the world. Well, it turns out that one of the most effective of all ways of changing the lives of the poor could be handing out cash. That’s right. For a long time now the development world has been looking into the benefits of various methods of simply giving the poorest families cash. One theory is that rather than investing large amounts in costly and wasteful State bureaucracies, delivering small amounts of cash to materially deprived households could be a much more efficient and flexible way to provide aid directly where it is needed most. Now, especially in Africa, data is piling up which may prove the theory right. The UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti is currently supporting an in-depth, long term research partnership to scientifically measure the impact of cash transfer programmes across a wide stretch of sub-Saharan Africa. Using rigorous impact evaluation standards, hard evidence is mounting up that tiny monthly cash transfers can bring about significant improvements for children, especially in the most remote rural communities where services are limited or non-existent. Here is a fascinating table showing the impact of the Zambian Government’s Child Support Grant programme – a US$12/month unconditional payment targeting households with young children in Zambia’s three poorest districts. In key indicators of material poverty, early child development, income generation and agricultural productivity, significant, tangible improvements were found to be related to cash transfers, not other factors. Zambia is one of 13 countries involved in the Transfer Project impact evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa. There are now at least 30 social protection programmes in this region based on long term application of cash transfer strategies. And in 19 of them there are rigorous evaluations of the impact on the most vulnerable children underway. When current impact evaluations are complete the world may well look to Africa to find the most up-to-date research on the possible impact of cash transfers. Having first emerged in Latin America in the 1990’s, cash transfer programmes in Africa are now sparking important social gains in food security, school attendance and promotion of young people’s safe transition to adulthood. One impact assessment of the Child Support Grant in South Africa has shown statistically significant associations between receipt of the grant and adolescents reduced sexual activity, reduced pregnancy and reduced alcohol and drug use. Research findings on cash transfers are beginning to spark talk of the development “silver bullet.” Sudhanshu Handa, social policy expert with the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, recently took part in a Washington DC debate titled “Cash Transfers: The New Benchmark for Foreign Aid?” where questions such as “When are cash transfers better than traditional aid?” and “Should aid be benchmarked against the cost effectiveness of cash transfers?” were thrashed out. In a period of austerity cost effectiveness of development aid is more critical than ever. The development community can now look to Africa for hard-nosed evidence on the impact of cash transfers.
EU youth: not in employment, education or training
Blog

EU youth: not in employment, education or training

7.5 million young people aged 15-24 — roughly the total population of Switzerland — were not in employment, education or training (referred to as 'NEET') across the European Union in 2013. In Greece alone it was one in five, nearly a quarter of a million young people. The UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti will later this year release Report Card #12: Impact of the Great Recession on children in rich countries presenting among other topics a wealth of information on how a generation of young people is slipping further and further away from the kind of productive adulthood taken for granted by their parents. The Great Recession hit young people extremely hard, with the NEET rate shooting up dramatically in most EU countries (Figure 1). The largest absolute increases were recorded in Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Romania. At the same time, the US saw the largest increase in the NEET rate across the OECD countries that are not in the EU. Figure 1: Not in education, employment or training (NEET), 15-24, in 2008 and 2013 (%)Source: Eurostat (last update 10.0.4.2014); *Quarterly data from the OECD Society at a Glance 2014 (Q4-2007 and Q4-2012). No data for Chile, Israel or Korea. Annual and quarterly estimates are not directly comparable. Meanwhile, the sharpest decrease across all of the EU and/or OECD countries was observed in Turkey, but even so, with one in four young people NEET in 2013, it still had the highest rate in the comparison. Not surprisingly, the biggest increases in the NEET rate since the financial crisis were in countries that suffered the largest drops in economic output and the greatest increases in unemployment. The 15-24 age group includes young people at different stages in their lives. Young people aged 15-19 are mostly still in compulsory secondary education. The shares of 20-24-year-olds who are neither employed nor in education or training tend to exceed those for the 15-19-year-olds, but even lower rates of NEET among the younger age group are most worrisome, since these young people are most likely not acquiring qualifications (Figure 2). The NEET rate is an indicator of exclusion both from the labour market and education. High NEET rates are a matter for policy concern because they suggest a halted transition from school to work, and a greater involvement of youth in the “informal” economy (OECD 2013). Since many of these young people will struggle to integrate into the labour market, there will be higher longer term individual and societal costs. Figure 2: NEET rates (15-24) in 2008 and 2013, by age group (%)Source: Eurostat (last update 10.0.4.2014); *OECD Education at a Glance 2013 (years: 2008 and 2011). No data for Chile or Japan. Being unemployed at an early age tends to have lasting negative effects on future wages and employment prospects, as well as on subjective well-being and health. Even those who find employment during the economic crisis may end up on a lower earnings trajectory, with many of them trapped in temporary, intermittent and part-time work. The societal costs include not only the loss of growth and revenue potential, but also the break-down of intergenerational trust, with many young people having no confidence in traditional socio-economic and political institutions. The UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti Report Card #12 coming out in late 2014, investigates the impact of the recent financial and economic crisis on children and young people in rich countries. Yekaterina Chzhen works on the background research that is going into Report Card #12. References: OECD (2013) Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD.
Youth in Zambia: using U-Report to take charge of their futures
Blog

Youth in Zambia: using U-Report to take charge of their futures

I met Josephine earlier this year, a bright 21-year-old young woman from a country where 68 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line and three young people become infected with HIV every hour, two of them being girls. That's an average of 72 young people infected per day, and 27,000 per year. These numbers are strong enough to declare a national health emergency by any definition. In Josephine’s country, despite the seriousness of the situation, less than 40 per cent of young people have detailed information or knowledge about HIV/AIDS, with lower levels among girls. Poverty and HIV/AIDS have become mutually reinforcing and are perpetuating a cycle of suffering for children and youth that seems endless. The country I’m referring to is Zambia. I decided to start this text with a different tone, somewhat resembling a movie trailer, for two reasons: firstly, because what we're sharing is a cinematic experience; and secondly, in this tale of bravery and innovation, we have a heroine who was born in the slums of Lusaka, in a family of 10 siblings, managed to get herself into school, and is on a mission to change the world. Let me rewind a bit, back to 2012. The UNICEF Office of Research–Innocenti in Florence commissioned the study Children, ICTs and Development: Capturing the potential, meeting the challenges, published in April 2014. The topic was so promising that we decided to script a short film to support it, showing the human story behind the evidence and featuring a child or teenager who had been positively influenced by technology in the developing world. After doing quite a bit of research and digging for inspiration, I came across the Zambia case study and U-Report initiative. The minute I read about it, I knew it was right, as if the story had been patiently waiting to be unveiled. Everything fell into place a month later, when I hopped on a plane to Lusaka to start the filming, accompanied by a director and a cinematographer. So what is U-Report? In a nutshell, it’s an innovative, free-of-charge and youth friendly platform that allows real-time, two-way communication with trained counsellors via SMS on issues of HIV and sexuality transmitted infections (STI) in Zambia. It’s a platform for change in a country where one in every three young people has at least one mobile phone subscription, according to the Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA). Josephine grabbed the opportunity to reach out to young people and became a U-Reporter two years ago, while still living in Kanyama, one amid the many urban slums in Lusaka. She was expected by society to give up on education, get married and make do with this life, but instead she took a divergent route and decided to make a difference for future generations. Her story is a snapshot of the youth revolution that is brewing in Zambia and is led by technology. Apart from over 40,000 U-Reporters working together, Google (amongst other partners) is supporting an innovation hub in Lusaka called the BongoHive, where young developers gather on a daily basis to think outside-the-box and create applications and services that can leapfrog development in the country – and beyond. Innovation is becoming an integral part of Zambia’s DNA. After having the opportunity to connect with many inspiring youngsters in the country, be it at the BongoHive, in Kanyama or in the rural areas, I finally realized that despite all the international support coming from various places, it is only the present and future generations that can truly bring (and sustain) change to a nation. Josephine is already one of the many emerging leaders. Now she only needs more people to believe and follow her dream. Ricardo Pires is a UNICEF Communication Specialist, based in Florence, who was recently in Zambia to film a series of documentaries on innovation and Information Communication Technology.
#BringBackOurGirls: time to get serious about drivers of violence
Blog

#BringBackOurGirls: time to get serious about drivers of violence

The abduction of more than 200 high school girls in northern Nigeria has touched a global nerve. The twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has generated millions of posts. UNICEF and other agencies have issued special statements. Superpowers are offering to send in military aid. It’s not the first time a horrendous act of violence against children has moved the world. I am pretty sure it won’t be the last. These moments of global concern about violence affecting children are usually brief, yet sadly, they don’t often result in level-headed responses. The acts of violence that make the headlines often have to do with deeply rooted and longstanding social norms—cultural, political and economic—that make girls and boys around the world vulnerable to many forms of violence, including forced early marriage, as well as child trafficking and abuse of children in armed conflict. When violence stays in the headlines there is a risk that we can miss an opportunity to focus in on the systemic social drivers of it. Policies and programmes are sometimes abandoned or hastily changed. Social protection services are pressured to drop what they are doing and deliver immediate results. Millions of dollars may be thrown into hasty policy re-directions based on thin evidence of success. What can make a difference? Believe it or not, one of the most important tools in ending violence against children is better research that improves understanding of what drives these violent outbursts, as well as the hidden ones that go on day in and day out around the world. What? More research? This is a crisis. Grab a shovel, pitchfork and scythe. How on earth will research #BringBackOurGirls? UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti is gearing up for a major four-year action research project in Italy, Peru, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, which aims to significantly increase understanding of what drives violence against children and how best to respond to it. A global team of top child protection researchers will analyze evidence on effective responses and rigorously measure their impact on children. The aim is to generate a substantial multi-country knowledge base to help build more effective interventions. In 2013 UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson joined UNICEF in urging people to speak out when they witness or suspect violence against children. More information about the #ENDviolence initiative is available here. © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0512/Toledano Violence against children is a constant which we still poorly understand.   It is pervasive: in the homes, neighborhoods, and schools where children are supposed to be safe. It is more often committed by the very people children ought to be able to turn to for protection. Growing evidence suggests 1 out of 4 children experience serious sexual, physical or emotional violence or abuse in their lifetimes. My gut feeling tells me it’s much higher, with most incidences going unreported. Some progress has been made on understanding violence against women, and there is much to learn from that in relation to children. However, too often theories about the dynamics of violence fail to take into account the extraordinary implications of age and its links with gender. Children grow, their capacities and vulnerabilities evolve and change, and, for example, what drives violence against a two year old girl may be quite different than that which affects a 14 year old boy, with different societal and individual consequences. Violence is nurtured by a culture of silence and the complex interplay of age-old assumptions on gender, age and authority. It is a social disease – and it happens in every country. Once we understand the underlying patterns of this virus, our policies and programmes are more likely to help stop it. Let’s unite and raise our voices in an effort to #BringBackOurGirls. But let’s also get to work on generating solid evidence on how to prevent and reduce the complicated phenomenon of human violence against the young and vulnerable, and in the process protect millions of children.
ICT4D: a coming of age
Blog

ICT4D: a coming of age

C4D, S4D and now ICT4D. The latest “4D” could represent one of the most important social and economic development trends in years. Communication technologies have long been seen as development “silver bullets.” First radio was going to boost productivity for rural farmers, then TV sets were supposed to replace teachers in remote classrooms, then computers were to become the great equalizers. Outsized expectations have almost always exceeded Information and Communications Technology (ICT) realities for development. But ICTs could finally be coming of age – due to the rapid spread of cell phones and internet – and their impact is reaching far beyond text message weather and commodity price reports for rural farmers. In a many ways digital technology and wireless communication networks are now over-shooting expectations and starting to deliver development dividends that generate their own forward momentum. Best of all, in many instances, end users in impoverished regions are having their say and formulating the framework of the latest generation of ICT for development: ICT4D. Things are moving so quickly that research and documentation can hardly keep up with the diffusion of ICT4D innovations. To help map and analyze these developments the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti is releasing a new report called “Children, ICTs and Development: Capturing the potential, meeting the challenges”which polls 35 leading experts in the field and analyses major research on the use of ICTs to improve the situation of vulnerable children. The report could be the first effort to specifically study the relationship between ICT4D and efforts to improve the situation of children. UNICEF has recently launched a global innovation unit pioneering the use of these and other new technologies, and has dedicated its November 2014 State of the World’s Children report to the theme of “Innovation for Equity.” The evidence of positive impact is mounting. The case of Zambia’s U-reporters is inspiring. With UNICEF help young people are using a simple SMS application to engage with policy makers on burning issues. More than 25,000 youth across Zambia – almost half female – are using SMS to access confidential, quality HIV-STI services. Zambia’s U-Reporter network is focused on HIV prevention, but will soon expand to address other needs. In Uganda, similar technology is going even further. Through U Report, more than 200,000 young people are connecting, discussing Local staff printing a birth certificate at Mityana hospital in Uganda using technology called Mobile Vital Records System. ©UNICEF/Uganda/2013/Sibiloniand mapping issues from sanitation in schools to gender discrimination. The network’s most recent SMS polls have covered, child poverty, birth registration, child health days, women’s access to credit. Connected by SMS, this vast network is gathering hard evidence and generating data maps to pressure leaders for change. According to one report “Information collected from these channels will be used to build a real time ‘accountability chain.’” In China the “10m2 of Love” smartphone app is mapping a growing list of breastfeeding rooms in workplaces and public buildings which meet ILO standards. Across 60 cities the app is helping families navigate to the nearest breastfeeding space and encouraging Chinese employers to embrace Child Rights Business Principles in the work place. Woven into China’s popular social media networks, the app mobilizes crowd-sourced quality control, provides contact details for hundreds of trained breastfeeding peer counselors and galvanizes an increasingly passionate breastfeeding advocacy movement. Before the launch of this ICT campaign UNICEF had never partnered with volunteers in China! ©UNICEF/China/2013Despite the clear up-side, the development community still needs to exercise caution, as the new research shows the ICT4D experience for children also contains its share of challenges. The study shows that girls are still less likely to benefit than boys, and while rural access is expanding it is still well behind urban areas. Cost is also a major obstacle which could mean that “quick fix” ICT4D interventions have the potential to widen inequities. The necessity of rooting ICT4D strategies deeply in the local cultural context is highlighted. Watch this space because I will continue to devote much of this blog to the impact of new interactive communication technologies on child rights. (Blogger note: This is my first blog post since joining the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti team. Our new study “Children, ICTs and Development: Capturing the potential, meeting the challenges,” has been jointly produced with the ICT4D Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London and Jigsaw Consult. It will be launched at the “Digitally Connected symposium on children, youth and digital media” hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and UNICEF on April 28-30, 2014 at Harvard University.) C4D - Communication for Development; S4D - Sport for Development; ICT4D - Information & Communication Technology for Development
157 - 165 of 165