Collective Intelligence for Better Problem Solving in Lesotho

BY Asel Abdurahmanova | January 13, 2017|Comments 0

How can we as the UN tap into the ideas, information and possible solutions which are distributed among many partners, the private sector, and the two million people of Lesotho?

This key question is being tackled under the exciting global partnership the United Nations Lesotho is undertaking with Nesta to apply collective intelligence methods to support the UN’s work (check out their latest report Governing with Collective Intelligence) .

In Lesotho, a landlocked country surrounded on all sides by South Africa and classified as a lower middle income country, about 310,000 adults and children are living with HIV. The country has an unacceptably high maternal mortality ratio – 1,024 deaths per 100,000 live births (2014). High poverty rates, socio-cultural barriers, delayed health seeking behaviours, poor access to health services are among key reasons for weak health outcomes.

These have been some of the key facts presented when we first started planning the Nestamission, last September. We identified key objectives:

  • To support in grounding UN planning and accountability mechanisms in the voices of the people of Lesotho
  • To identify opportunities to embed new tools into planning and strategies development
  • Provide proposals for the UN Country Team to integrate citizen engagement and digital technology into its programmes, with a focus on improving service delivery in health and filling gaps in data availability and use

What is a collective intelligence framework for sustainable development? 

Our Nesta colleagues shared with our partners a framework for collective intelligence as a way to tap into the ideas and data that is dispersed throughout the country. The stages of the collective intelligence framework are iterative:

  • Defining the exact problem
  • Better understanding the facts, data and experiences
  • Better development of options and ideas
  • Better oversight and improvement of what is done

As we continue to introduce this methodology we are taking up Nesta’s suggestion for a 100 days of innovations model to draw government and public attention to a focused effort and to maintain a momentum.  Here’s what we are working on:

Listening to people’s voices through a mobile public perception survey

Mobile surveys will be introduced as part of the longer term idea of public monitoring platform and feedback mechanisms. We will gather perceptions about the UN, what people know about the UN and think of our work, the outreach will also get people’s responses on the most pressing SDGs through continued Lesotho My World Survey. In partnership with our private sector partner – the mobile provider, we will be able to analyse the perception data distributed geographically and disaggregated by respondents’ profiles throughout Lesotho.


Stimulating innovative solutions through an SDG Challenge Prize

One of the most exciting crowdsourcing initiatives that we will bring forward – the SDGChallenge Prize as a powerful incentive for people to bring innovative solutions. The unique element is that people will design most pressing questions around: areas of SDGs; behaviours of young people and HIV and AIDS; and disconnect between education and employment. Population will be invited to develop innovative solutions and through providing monetary prizes and follow up entrepreneurship and project management skills packages to the most innovative solutions, we expect this will not only trigger innovative thinking but will also help to access new and alternative sources of data and ideas. Our key partners will be academia – the National University of Lesotho and the private sector.


Can ‘Uber Ambulance’ be a big thing to improve access to health care services?

The mountainous topography and harsh winters also present a challenge for access to basic services, including health care services. Where there is a limited transportation, no good roads, or women at late pregnancy stages not being able to access health clinics – there is a room for innovation and is being already explored globally! We plan to develop a taxi app – ‘uber ambulance’ to move into the healthcare sector. The move could allow Basotho to get to health services though sms based platforms or their smartphones directly in partnership with local IT companies and taxi service providers.

By generating more inclusive, participatory ways of tackling problems and simultaneously creating solutions coming directly from the people of Lesotho we hope to bring value added and to contribute to leave no one behind agenda.


Asel Abdurahmanova Asel Abdurahmanova, Coordination Specialist, UN Lesotho. You can follow Asel on Twitter.

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