Malawiki

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There are thousands of new game apps out there. But how many also help support meaningful change? Bee the Swarm is a special case: by using this app, you can help get the word out about another new app dedicated to helping the people of Malawi, one of the poorest nations in Africa. This new app, Malawiki, will provide Malawians with local information they need to improve their health and education services. They will be able to use their smart phones for positive social change.

In Malawi, nearly ¾ of the population lives on $1.25 a day. Both children and adults suffer from frequent bouts of malaria. Teachers in Malawi can have classes of over 200 students and most students do not finish high school. It is hard for Malawians to act to change things. They do not have the information to know whether things in their community are getting better or worse. They don’t know what’s working in other parts of Malawi that might improve health and education in their communities. Over 98% of Malawians do not have computer access. Even if they do, health and education data for Malawi is difficult to find . However, many Malawians have smart phones to access the internet, which is why Malawiki is so important. We at the Youth Policy Institute (YPI) have developed this app so that anyone in Malawi with a phone can start making plans for real change. For the first time, Malawians will be able to take hold of their future and start charting a course for better schools and improved health services.

Malawiki will provide easy, free access to hundreds of local-level data points relevant to Malawians. On their smart-phones, Malawian will be able to easily find data of critical importance to their community, such as the percent of children in their area with malaria who get appropriate treatment promptly, the percent of pregnant women receiving necessary antenatal services, local vaccination, literacy, graduation rates, and so on. Users will be able to see trends in their community and will also be able to compare them to trends in other areas. Data specialists at YPI will work to ensure that all information posted is valid, reliable, and as timely as possible. As data are added to Malawiki over time, Malawi citizens will be able to see if they are achieving their goals.

Malawiki will also help bring program evaluation to Malawians. Although there are thousands of programs in the country trying to improve health and education services, practically none of them are evaluated to see how effective they really are. Malawiki will let communities see whether available services are working for the first time. It will provide free tailored data collection tools and support for rigorous analysis of evaluation data. It will also help better target foreign investment, which constitutes 37% of Malawi’s national budget, by identifying programs that work.

A woman poses for a photo while waiting for a call on her mobile phone in Yola, Nigeria on March 9 2015. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa people are more likely to own a cell phone than any other electronic device. This could be the key to economic development in the next five years. Photo: Kathleen Caudlerwood

A woman poses for a photo while waiting for a call on her mobile phone in Yola, Nigeria on March 9 2015. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa people are more likely to own a cell phone than any other electronic device. This could be the key to economic development in the next five years. Photo: Kathleen Caudlerwood

Malawiki is a tool to encourage Malawians to plan for positive change, to engage their communities and their government, and to work toward improved health and education outcomes. We know from research that local concerns can motivate people to act together for better social outcomes. Everyone wants better schools and health care for their families and communities. Malawiki is designed to provide Malawians the information they need to be engaged effectively. We hope that you will get engaged by using Bee the Swarm, helping us at YPI to roll out this first-of-its-kind mobile app. By using an app for change, you can help make another app for change a reality for Malawians.

Watch the Bee the Swarm Blog for more blog posts about this exciting program! Follow us on the Malawiki Facebook page, or on Twitter (@YPIMalawiki) for updates and information. Feel free to send us a message with any questions, ideas, or concerns - after all, this is a wiki!

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