The Youth Innovation Challenge for Peace was organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Community Security and Arms Control Project to specifically recognize the strength of youth-led initiatives and the impact of home-grown ideas on societies emerging from conflict. 132 youth attended the original introduction workshop when the competition launched in August 2016.
From there, 150 ideas were submitted and 26 semi-finalists were selected by an evaluation committee to participate in this week’s “ideation workshop”.
In a press statement, Eugene Owusu; Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said; “The purpose of the challenge is not to reward ideas with dollars but to inspire and nurture creativity that would transform South Sudan.”
“ The challenge is about building a culture of peace and thrusting the youth at the forefront of creativity and social change, amplifying their ambition and smart use of new technology to engage and transform their society,” Owusu adds.
The participants received guidance and support for refining their ideas, structuring their proposals, and delivering effective presentations from UNDP’s Regional Innovation Advisor for Africa Mr. Mark Lepage and local open technology experts from Juba Hub (jHub).
Lightning-round sessions were held on Tuesday, where each project had seven minutes to present their idea in whatever format they chose.
Semi-finalists were judged based on a common set of criteria: clarity and presentation of their idea; creativity and originality of their idea; addresses the issue of engaging youth in peace; viability in the long term and financial sustainability; number of youth and general population who could benefit; implementable and realistic; scalable and replicable; and gender and social inclusion.
- The overall winning proposal, taking home the top prize of US$10,000 was an individual submission from Mr. Kwaje called 64 Hands SACCO (savings and credit co-operative society), which combines social entrepreneurship with peace-building by providing South Sudanese small and medium enterprises access to a community-based source of financing.
64 Hands SACCO is designed to be propelled by youth drawn from all 64 tribes in South Sudan.
- Kilkilu ana Comedy Extra placed second, with seed funding of US$6,000 to execute their vision of developing multi-lingual comedy performances to promote healing, understanding, and reconciliation. Their proposal focused on a pilot program to take place in IDP camps in and around Juba.
- GOGIRLS-ICT Initiative won third place and will receive US$4,000 awarded to implement their proposed #TTOS-ICT project. The aim of the project is to engage, educate and empower women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based fields through a philosophy of chain-based trainings. GOGIRLS-ICT Initiative focuses on mentoring and making meaningful social impact to address development challenges women and girls face in South Sudan which contribute to insecurity, like early and forced marriage, illiteracy, and unemployment.
The winning submissions will work closely with UNDP moving forward, with the ultimate aim of implementing their ideas on the ground in pilot programs.