22 April 2020, Peshawar—  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) concluded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s segment of the “Master the Disaster” Digital Hackathon for Disaster Risk Reduction today– the first hackathon conducted by UNDP entirely online. The hackathon aimed to generate innovative ideas related to preparedness and response for climate change induced disasters and pandemic crises such as COVID-19. The two-day hackathon gathered more than 100 participants including the youth, academia, representatives from both the private and public sectors, the development sector, and the provincial government. Youth from across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa worked in teams while being guided by experts from the fields of technology, entrepreneurship, public health, and climate change. UNDP will work with the winning teams to scale up their ideas with the help of exclusive mentorship and access to partnerships with NIC Peshawar and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board.

Mr. Abduvakkos Abdurahmanov, Chief Technical Advisor, Climate Change and Resilience welcomed the participants on behalf of UNDP and said, “We cannot stop natural events from happening, but we can prepare better so that vulnerable populations are better protected. Since building resilience is about preparedness for any eventualities, including public health emergencies, we couldn’t ignore the current global public health crisis – so we will have teams working both on climate change related disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.”

Haider Miraj – Head of Programs and master trainer, Concepts Unlimited said at the event, “In the wake of recent lockdowns and social distancing, the timing of this event could not be any better. Despite its chaotically fast and short format – with many teams working through two days – it forces participants to focus on an issue and think about innovations with a diverse set of inputs. We are undertaking this hackathon with the goal of ideation i.e. to generate inclusive, local and innovative ideas to solve critical challenges.”

At the end of the two days hackathon, the participating teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. The diverse ideas ranged from early warning and awareness mobile apps to modified personal protective equipment and ventilators. The winning ideas included a digital platform to provide real-time disaster updates from the government and a nationwide volunteer force that can be mobilized for crises through a mobile application.

In addition to the ongoing pandemic, Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change and related disasters is already high. The country ranks 5th on the Global Climate Risk Index of countries most affected by climate change. Reducing disaster risk and increasing the resilience of people is therefore imperative. UNDP has been working in this area in accordance with its mandate and core competencies including enhancing government capacity to reduce disaster risk at the national, provincial and district levels, and supporting community resilience building for at-risk communities.

For additional information, please contact Ayesha Babar at ayesha.babar@undp.org  or +92 (51) 835 5650


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