What do coding, mobile applications and peace-building have in common? According to Hanane Abdo, a young programmer from Aden, more than one would think. After taking part in a two-week YouthMobile workshop launched by UNESCO and Internet Society Yemen during she built a mobile application to spread messages of peace and raise awareness on human rights, she says she has gained confidence in herself and in the fact that, through coding, she can be “part of the solution and not the problem” in her home country.
“I believe many problems and crises often start because people aren’t aware of their rights and of what they can do to contribute to building peaceful environments around them. I therefore built an app that focuses on sharing practical steps, messages and tips on human rights, peace and reconciliation and allowing users to share personal messages in favour of the peacebuilding process,” Hanane explained.
As part of its efforts to empower youth to build peace and respond to humanitarian crisis with ICTs, UNESCO partnered with Internet Society Yemen Chapter to launch the YouthMobile project in Yemen. YouthMobile is a project developed by UNESCO in several countries around the world introducing young people to computer science programming (learning-to-code) and problem solving (coding-to-learn) develop mobile apps that solve local issues of sustainable development.
“At a time when Yemen is going through conflict and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, safe spaces and opportunities need to be created to enable youth to create solutions addressing local needs and develop counter narratives to conflict through creativity and innovation,” Anna Paolini, UNESCO Representative to Yemen said.
40 youth in Yemen took part in the programme launched in Sana’a and Aden and, within two weeks of training, 10 mobile apps on issues such as health, human rights, IDPs integration, first aid tips were created by participating youth using AppInventor, a open-source web application developed by MIT Media Lab to learn mobile apps programming.
Commenting on the initiative, Fahmi Albaheth, President of Internet Society Yemen Chapter said: “The YouthMobile intiative comes at the right time and is the first of its kind in Yemen. In a country where almost 70% of the population have mobile-cellular subscriptions, developing mobile apps for peace-building and to support the humanitarian response represent an easy and relatively fast way to reach people for positive change and impact.
Abdullah Raweh and his group, from Sana'a, created the app “save.life”. “Because of the humanitarian situation, we created an app that serves as a health guide to save lives. The app includes many features such as first aid instructions, how to deal with the difficult cases as well as information and instructions about a number of treatable diseases, including cholera”.
Nada Al-Maktary, who also took part in the workshop in Sana'a, explained that her group developed the app “Displaced” to help her community and particularly internally displaced people (IDPs) by offering them tips and advice about daily life. The app also collects statistics, which will be shared with international NGOs and humanitarian organizations so they can reach out and provide assistance to IDPs.
Taking part in the training in Aden, Osama Noor had observed how difficult it was for patients to easily find the medicines they need. As a result, his group developed an app that serves as a directory classifying all rare medicines and providing information on where and how to find them.
The initiative will continue to be rolled-out in Yemen including through mentoring and peer support. A Facebook page “YouthMobile-Yemen” was therefore created to enable youth to continue developing their apps and promote them online, exchange ideas, and receive peer support.
To find out more about the YouthMobile initiative in Yemen and see photos, follow us the Facebook page “YouthMobile-Yemen”. You can also follow us on @UNESCO_GCCYemen or search #Yemen #YouthMobile on Twitter.
To find out more about the UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative, follow us on Twitter @YouthMobile_ or visit our website: www.youthmobile.org
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