Innovations in Indonesia: The story of our beginnings

Located within the Knowledge Management unit that is a part of the Communications, Partnerships, and Resource Mobilization Cluster, I’d say that UNICEF Indonesia’s Innovation Lab is a ‘work in progress’, given we began around November 2013.

So what does innovation mean for us?

The power of an idea to manoeuvre, to solve

Rather than battling with bottlenecks, we focused on innovative solutions. Like our Info-Bidan (Information Midwives) project: in partnership with Nokia and the Health Ministry, we initiated a pilot to test the application of ‘Nokia Life’ among midwives to assess the effectiveness of its Info-Bidan feature in improving midwives’ knowledge, and thereby quality of services delivered.

For the first time, the public and private sector together with UNICEF partnered on a collaboration that utilized existing technology to overcome bottlenecks in access to knowledge in the health sector. A year later, evaluation results show positive changes in midwives’ knowledge and the quality of services delivered to pregnant women. Now we are gearing towards replication and scale-up, and also reviewing the applicability of the initiative to other sectors.

The energy of youth to explore new horizons

Yes, Indonesia is a young nation, with approximately one third of its total population (237 million) comprised of children (81.3 million) and 17% (41 million) [1] being between the ages of 15-24. Yet as of 2013, the country did not have targeted youth policies that addressed young people’s concerns. In Papua, we highlighted that youth participation in all stages of policy-making is non-negotiable. The essence of Human Centred Design was displayed when Papuan youth engaged in the situation assessment and a stocktaking exercise to review existing provincial programmes targeting youth, highlighted their challenges, identified priorities for policy, and participated in the high level advocacy meeting convened by the Governor to kick-start the development of a provincial youth policy.

A youth consultation workshop in Papua. Photo credit: Sally Beadle
A youth consultation workshop in Papua. Photo credit: Sally Beadle

This success further convinced us of the importance of establishing proper youth engagement channels that mark a shift from tokenistic participation. Creating a social/digital platform for Indonesian youth to address their priorities and concerns to, and seek response from: policymakers, the private sector, and civil society is thus on its way. So is the establishment of an “Adolescent Kit” for emergencies. Simply put, adolescents are now being actively involved in disaster risk reduction and resilience programmes. At present, the concept is being tested within the scope of the north Jakarta floods. The office’s decision to forge partnerships with academic universities for the Global Design for UNICEF Challenge is the third example of our endeavours.


New forms of engagement have their ups and downs. Ensuring that our ideas can improve the lives of marginalized children and youth, convening partners, sustaining momentum, and measuring results – these are our concerns. The downside can be doing innovations just for the sake of it, yet failing to achieve results. The advantage: We live in exciting times, where the possibility of doing things differently is more real than ever. And thus it’s only a beginning that can lead us to new opportunities.

Roshni Basu

Knowledge Management Specialist

UNICEF Indonesia

Ps. Be sure to follow our future posts – lots of exciting information about our innovation projects in Indonesia coming up!

[1] 2010 Census of Indonesia.


Related stories:

Video: Info Bidan – Information for Indonesian midwives via SMS

Video: Designing for children in Nicaragua (human centered design)

Building the next generation of global innovators (Global Design for UNICEF Challenge)

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