In a dedicated effort to combat the concerning issue of teenage pregnancies in Uganda, a collaborative initiative led by UNFPA Uganda, the Swedish Embassy, and OutBox recently hosted a groundbreaking HackLab event. The aim was to harness the creative potential of young minds and technology to address this pressing social challenge.
The HackLab received an overwhelming response, with over 127 applicants showcasing their innovative ideas, startups, and projects that could have a positive impact, particularly on young girls, in reducing the prevalence of teenage pregnancy across the nation.
After a rigorous selection process, the field was narrowed down to the top 10 projects, each vying for a grant of USD 10,000 (UGX 37,000,000) to further develop and implement their initiatives. Among these remarkable contenders was the Bulamu Bridge AI project, which stood out for its groundbreaking tech innovation.
Bulamu Bridge AI introduced their Bulamu App, which employs the power of Artificial Intelligence to empower girls and women to track their menstrual cycles. The app goes beyond this by incorporating an AI-driven WhatsApp chatbot to provide assistance with health-related queries. The premium version of the app even caters to antenatal care, supporting users in case of pregnancy
The event witnessed a diverse range of impactful pitches. For instance, the Her Worth Foundation presented a project focused on equipping young girls with skills to create reusable menstrual pads, contributing to both menstrual hygiene and reducing the financial burden on families. Other projects, like Centres 4 Her, aimed to extend Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services to a larger demographic, including those in and out of schools, along with mental health support.
Richard Zulu, a team leader from OutBox, lauded the support extended by UNFPA Uganda and the Swedish Embassy, highlighting the transformative impact such innovative projects can have. Notably, he referenced Clinic Pesa as a standout success from past HackLabs.
Josephine Zhane from UNFPA emphasized the importance of collective involvement to achieve the overarching goal of eradicating Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices, a mission aligned with the campaign to end teenage pregnancies.
Speaking to the severity of the issue, Daniel Alemu, Deputy Country Representative of UNFPA Uganda, underscored the staggering statistic that 121 million unintended pregnancies are registered annually, representing half of all recorded pregnancies. Alemu stressed that immediate collaborative action is necessary to prevent a further increase in teenage pregnancies not only in Uganda but globally.
Diverse perspectives were brought forth by notable speakers, including Adam Kahsai Rudebeck, Programmes Manager at the Embassy of Sweden, who expressed enthusiasm for the projects and announced continued support for such impactful interventions.
Dr. Angella Nakafeero from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development affirmed the government’s commitment to addressing early marriages and teenage pregnancies in Uganda. She assured citizens that they are actively collaborating with development partners to identify effective solutions.
The culmination of the event saw Bulamu Bridge AI emerging as the winner of the End Teen Pregnancy HackLab, receiving the coveted USD 10,000 prize. Ndaaba Innovation Hub, a startup that employs comics and cartoons to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health, took the second position. Meanwhile, Deaf Youth Network and Her Worth Foundation shared the third position, each securing USD 10,000.
These interventions are not merely about empowering young people to engage with issues affecting them; they signify a significant stride toward discovering actionable solutions that can bring about meaningful change in society.
- Bulamu Bridge AI
- Bulamu Bridge AI's Tech Innovation Tops End Teen Pregnancy HackLab
- child marriage
- Deaf youth network
- early marriages
- End Teen pregnancy
- End Teen Pregnancy HackLab
- End Teenage pregnancy
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- Her Worth Foundation
- Ndaba Innovation Hub
- UNFPA Uganda