The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Innovation Facility released a review of its work in 2016 last week. Established in 2014, it is based in the Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, and supported by the Government of Denmark.
The UNDP Innovation Facility offers technical support to the UNDP and its collaborators across 170 countries and territories to explore new approaches to increasingly complex development challenges. It searches for emerging approaches and technologies, awards seed funding for testing or scaling innovations, promotes knowledge sharing through networks and creates new norms within UNDP to shift away from business-as-usual. The Facility has provided seed funds to more than 110 experiments across 76 countries, testing 17 innovation approaches, in areas ranging from data to behavioural insights and crowdfunding.
During 2016, 60% of Innovation Facility initiatives funded in 2014 and 2015 were taken up in partnership with the government, private sector and civil society. Over 43%of countries are crisis-affected, have fragile economies or a humanitarian plan in place.
According to the review, UNDP offices that tested new ways of working have reported double the number of partnerships with the private sector, foundations, and international financial institutions, and 40% more partnerships with academia and/or think tanks. Country offices that received funding or advisory services from the Innovation Facility are 65% more likely to engage young women and men in designing solutions. In 2016, the partner base broadened to include the first internet philanthropy report with Tencent, experiments with Aid: Tech, Microsoft, UK’s Behavioural Insights Team, BitNation, MIT Poverty Action Lab and Climate CoLab, Edgeryders, Nesta, Cognitive Edge, Danish Government’s MindLab, UAViators Humanitarian Network, leading Gaming Labs, local startups, social entrepreneurs as well as key private sector partners such as MobiMedia, DJI, Glorious Labs, Baidu, Google and IBM.
Within the ASEAN countries, the UNDP Innovation Facility has been involved in projects in Indonesia and Myanmar.
Crowdfunding for sustainable access to water (Country: Indonesia)
The 500 inhabitants of remote Napu village in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara Province lack reliable access to clean water for drinking, sanitation, and cooking. Water has to be collected in jerry cans on foot from springs several kilometres away.
In 2016, UNDP Indonesia launched its first ever crowdfunding campaign: ‘Bring Water for Life’, in partnership with KOPPESDA, an NGO partner and Kitabisa.com, a crowdfunding platform based in Jakarta. It achieved its funding target of IDR 350 million (USD 26,000) and the money was used to provide clean water access by building a solar-powered water pump system.
UNDP Indonesia is now exploring the scale-up of this successful campaign. It has partnered with the Financial Services Authority (OJK), the National Development Planning Agency of Indonesia (BAPPENAS), Ministry of Finance, and AlliedCrowds, an aggregator and directory of alternative finance providers in the developing world, to produce a database of investors and identify a pipeline of social enterprises for social finance ventures.
Future plans include working with partners to deliver a national workshop on social finance, expanding the crowdfunding campaign to support multiple development interventions through the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) platform, and preparing a blended finance proposal that provides investment to a structured portfolio of social enterprises in Indonesia.
Drones for monitoring crop health (Country: Indonesia)
In 2014, UNDP and UN Global Pulse launched a Challenge Prize to stimulate social tech entrepreneurs to come forward with promising ideas. One of the winners helped local farmers reduce their expenses by 60 percent by using low-cost UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to assess crop health. The drones were equipped with infrared cameras to analyse photosynthetic levels with higher the photosynthetic levels indicating healthier crops. This enabled the farmers to make informed decisions on effective pesticide use.
Smart public transportation system in Makassar (Country: Indonesia)
The city of Makassar faces several challenges in its plans for a smart public transportation system, including the integration of existing semi-formal modes of transport such as Pete-Petes (minivans).
UNDP and the Pulse Lab Jakarta (established through a partnership between the United Nations and the Ministry of National Development and Planning) brought together representatives from the city transportation agency (DISHUB), Pete-Pete association
(ORGANDA), students, local designers and activists for a design workshop. The solutions developed during the three-day workshop were further refined and improved during a six-week incubation process led by BaKTI, a local NGO.
The most promising solution, Pasikola-eNassami, focuses on repurposing existing minivans to provide reliable transportation for school children. It includes a mobile phone application so drivers, parents and schools can communicate on estimated times of arrival and departure. The solution is now ready to be prototyped and tested. The first of the repurposed vehicles would be tested in one school, adopting an iterative process of testing, learning, and readapting the solution. Depending on success, by the end of the pilot stage 30 vehicles will be repurposed for use with 10 schools.
Virtual peer-support among rural women (Country: Myanmar)
Lack of personal confidence and female role models, overcoming restrictive social norms, among other issues, pose barriers to the representation of women in leadership roles in Myanmar.
UNDP supported the creation of iWomen – Inspiring Women—a free mobile application co-developed by women’s’ community groups. The app is a joint initiative ith the May Doe Kabar National Network of Rural Women. UNDP invested first in understanding the needs of women and then co-designed the tool with women.
The iWomen App inspires rural women by sharing personal stories written by women within Myanmar and across the world. Women also have access to mentors. Now the app also includes educational content for women on topics such as renewable energy, entrepreneurship, market, laws, rights and technology. It rewards users through ‘lucky draws’ for playing games to test and build their knowledge. It also has a newly integrated survey function for gathering information from rural users around the country and supporting their virtual participation in country-level law and policy consultations.
Since 2015, active users for the app have increased from 1,050 to over 8,000. Over 7,000 posts and 500 inspiring stories have been shared. A youth tech volunteer network around the app, which started with 30 recruited university students, has expanded to over 200 youth who are travelling across the country to introduce rural women to the basics of mobile IT, training them on sharing the app phone-to-phone with others and become iWomen App Champions. The trainings have reached 3,500 rural women, covering over half of Myanmar’s rural townships.
Read the complete review here, with projects addressing challenges across five areas, poverty reduction, environment protection, violence prevention, disaster risk management and response and advancing gender quality.