Innovation in South Africa

In the spring of 2018, NextGen raised over $200,000 to fund innovative and forward-thinking programs that address the needs of children by leveraging local resources and technologies. These programs aimed to build a resilient and equitable generation, giving children in South Africa the support they need from their early days through their adolescent years. Initiatives include U-Report, M-Health, Alex FM, and TechnoGirl (learn more about these programs below!). With cross-sectoral funding, this project allowed for holistic innovation programs that generated effective and sustainable change on behalf of South Africa’s children.

U-Report: Allowing even the lowest income households in South Africa to engage in this user-centered social monitoring tool for community participation, U-Report amplifies young people’s voices through local and national media, using data to inform decision making with UNICEF partners across every sector. Information is updated in real time and adolescents are a voice for their communities and peers and make actionable change on social issues like violence and psychosocial harm.

M-Health: Working closely with the South African government and partners, UNICEF has been involved in piloting health initiatives that leverage mobile phone use and aim to understand and address challenges in access, delivery and uptake of services in healthcare. Such programs include an app that connects with HIV positive adolescents to ensure they have all the information they need to thrive, and a mobile based system to track infant health for HIV positive mothers.

Alex FM: The Alex FM program mobilizes adolescent reporters to speak on behalf of their communities and peers about social issues such as violence, crime, or HIV by communicating via 12 different radio stations. Alex FM prepares young people for leadership and inspires action, by working with young leaders to become public advocates for change and teaching them communication skills and advocacy.

TechnoGirl: TechnoGirl: TechnoGirl aims specifically to promote girls’ participation and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – fields in which boys consistently outperform girls in South Africa. Candidates are selected from the country’s under-resourced communities on the basis of their academic merit. The TechnoGirl initiative is two-fold. First, the program is closing gender gaps by combining technical learning and mentorship with life skills and education opportunities. Second, TechoGirl is empowering adolescent girls to make informed choices to prevent HIV, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence. Because of TechnoGirl, thousands of South African schoolgirls from disadvantaged rural and urban communities are introduced to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics via the job-shadowing and mentoring initiative.

We’re excited to receive updates from the UNICEF South Africa office in early 2019 regarding the progress of these programs as a result of NextGen’s efforts! Please visit our Facebook to see pictures from the NextGen field visit to South Africa here!

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