Young Zimbabwean amongst world best in e-technology


Winner from Zim uses new technologies to pursue Millennium Development Goals

From interactive radio for rural areas to a talking animated HI-Virus, from exceptional human rights blogs to climate campaigns, the World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) presents young people under 30 years who use internet and mobiles to get action on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Amongst those decorated is also 30-year old Verengai Mabika from Harare. He created the first “virtual school on climate change” in Southern Africa.

“In Africa and Zimbabwe in particular climate change still remains a myth and an unpopular subject that is viewed as affecting developed nations only. The few players that are engaging in climate change programming run the risk of ‘adaption with little knowledge’ due to the scarcity of climate change information.” That is why Verengai Mabika and his colleagues at the Development Reality institute (DRI) created the “Climate Chance Virtual School for Youths”. The four week virtual programme aims to raise awareness on the effects of climate change to development in Zimbabwe. It targets youths, programme managers, policy makers, planners, community based opinion leaders and researchers.

Learning about Climate Change online

The introductory on-line course presents Earth’s climate system and explores the science and politics of global climate change. Within the twelve lessons several topics are covered: the science behind the phenomenon, the science and politics of global warming, policy and regulation, impacts on Africa and Zimbabwe, climatic risks to developmental projects – and how the way forward could look like. “All the reading and course material as well as assessments are on-line; there are no regularly scheduled class meetings. Text messages are used to remind participants when assignments are due,” Mabika explains the digital approach of the project. After completing the course, all the participants become alumni and form a virtual discussion forum that is run on the DRI website to share experience and shape advocacy issues on climate change in Zimbabwe.

International Award for Zim Project

This type of education on climate change is totally new to the region. Therefore, the innovative way to use technology was decorated with the World Summit Youth Award 2010 in the category “Go Green”.

The project is one of the 18 winners, who were chosen out of over 600 applications. The projects from all around the world were evaluated in a three-round judging process by a jury of 18 international experts in the fields of youth engagement, new media and social entrepreneurship.
All in all, 30 winners and runners-up from 21 different countries were chosen. “These young talents have been awarded for their creativity and their ambition to make the MDGs their very own goals and use modern technology to get another step closer to a better world,” says Peter A. Bruck, the Chairman of the World Summit Award.

International Winner Event in New York

The Winners Events will take place September 18 – 22, 2010 in New York City as part of the United Nations MDG Review Summit. Winners will be able to showcase their projects to government and business leaders, representatives of civil society and the international community. “We hope that the winners will not only inspire each other for possible new projects, but also motivate these officials as to pressure their countries to keep their promises,” Bruck adds.

The WSYA is both, a showcase to the world for young designers, technologists and e-content creators as well as a contribution on a global scale to addressing poverty, protecting the environment, sharing knowledge and empowering young people.
Organized within the framework of the UN World Summit on the Information Society, the Youth Award is organised by the World Summit Award (WSA) Network for the third time after 2005 and 2009. It is supported by the Knight Foundation and the Internet Society (ISOC).

The “Climate Chance Virtual School for Youths” of the youth based DRI was supported by the United Nations Volunteer Programme (UNDP/UNV), the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, the Ministry of ICT, the ZERO Regional Environment Organization, YETT and SIDA

Author: Andreas Rothe
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Author Information (if necessary):
The author is a German freelance journalist who has lived, studied and worked in South Africa, Namibia as well as European countries. Furthermore his professional experience includes occupations at the United Nations Information Service and the International Center for New Media based in Austria.

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