NEW YORK (April 18, 2013) – UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake congratulated Christopher Fabian and Erica Kochi, co-leads of UNICEF’s Innovation Unit, on being selected for this year’s prestigious TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the hundred most influential people in the world.
UNICEF also extended its congratulations to all of the 2013 TIME 100, and in particular to 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, for her inspiring and unflagging support for girls' education.
Fabian and Kochi drive new technologies and strategies at UNICEF that are leading to significant gains in child survival and development worldwide.
"I'm proud to be their colleague. This is a great recognition of how 21st century ideas and tools can transform ordinary people’s lives in an extraordinary way," said Anthony Lake. "Erica and Chris are working with partners across the world to test ideas, push decisions and help scale up innovations. Thanks to this work, we’re doing more to reach the hardest to reach children with lifesaving and live changing programs."
Fabian and Kochi spearheaded the development of open source technology known as RapidSMS, a free platform for data collection, logistics coordination and communication. RapidSMS employs simple cell phones to deliver real-time information critical to improving the health and protection of children.
This work has helped UNICEF deliver prenatal care to thousands of pregnant women across Rwanda, improved the diagnosis and treatment of children with HIV in Zambia, registered the births of more than 7 million children in Nigeria, tracked the distribution of 63 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and created a direct feedback loop for more than 190,000 young Ugandans to engage with their government and change policy in real time.
Since the development of RapidSMS, organizations across the developing world have used the technology to create better communication and coordination.
"I am honored to be included in the TIME 100 list and know it is also a tribute to all UNICEF colleagues who work every day to reach all children," said Christopher Fabian.
"It's wonderful being part of UNICEF's work to harness innovations at the forefront of scientific, technological, and programmatic fields and to see how they dramatically improve children’s lives," added Erica Kochi.
UNICEF began focusing on innovation as a tool for humanitarian change more than 40 years ago, increasing immunization rates by more than 60 per cent since the 1980s; creating low-cost, lifesaving interventions like Oral Rehydration Salts (an inexpensive mix of salt, sugar and water that helps save children who have acute diarrheal disease); and boosting competition and driving down prices in the vaccine markets through transparency.
The work of the Innovation Unit has won global recognition. The Digital Drum was chosen as one of TIME Magazine’s best inventions of 2011 and was featured as part of an exhibition by the American Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Made locally with low-cost drums and solar panels, the computer kiosks provide pre-loaded health and education content for children living in rural, isolated communities in Uganda without access to the Internet. In addition, the team has developed an innovative partnership with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to share open-source innovations for emergencies.
The Time 100 list is comprised of people whose power, talent, discoveries and philanthropy have made a difference in the world. Past honorees recognized for their humanitarian work include Muhammad Yunus, Aung San Suu Kyi, Graça Machel, and Bono.
For the TIME 100 "most influential people" list, visit www.time.com/time100
For more information on UNICEF Innovations, visit www.unicefstories.org
Twitter: Erica Kochi @ericakochi , Christopher Fabian @unickf
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.