The Palestinian Accelerator Lab team at UNDP has begun rolling out its 100-day action plan – starting our journey into learning and problem-solving. The hurdles in development work are immense, but so are the opportunities. What is more exciting than to use a platform that allows for fast learning in a highly complex environment?
The challenges that face us all in the State of Palestine are not new, and despite extensive investments over the past 25 years, improvements have been minuscule. Initiatives are scattered and in silos, leading in some instances to duplicated efforts and wasted resources. In many cases, citizens have ideas and know exactly what they need to get their solutions off the ground, but they are not offered the opportunity to either voice their ideas or have adequate resources to implement those ideas.
To this end, the Palestinian Accelerator Lab team is working jointly with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to launch an online crowdsourcing platform called ‘Solve It’ to engage with various actors to tackle issues in a multi-disciplinary manner that directly links with the Sustainable Development Goals. ‘Solve It’ offers an opportunity for individuals or teams to independently present ideas in social innovation that solve the most pressing problems in the State of Palestine. Instead of relying on experts in specific fields, ‘Solve It’ goes beyond sectors to cultivate solutions that have been developed by those experiencing any given challenge daily.
The development sphere in the State of Palestine has experienced countless projects that take up years, which means that a great deal of time and effort is exerted before results are achieved. While change requires time, the Accelerator Lab strives to experiment with short-term initiatives and identify existing locally sourced solutions to try to accelerate learning and inform actors eager to invest.
‘Solve It’ is one of the platforms that will be launched to crowdsource ideas that are already out there. Business-as-usual projects typically take off once all variables are in place, leaving no room for experimentation and creativity. This initiative opens new doors for ideas that are not obvious but have the potential to make a serious change along with contributing to citizens’ engagement and subsequent trust.
What distinguishes ‘Solve It’ from other initiatives is its strategic link with SDGs and government priorities, moving away from vertical sectors. Ultimately, the vision is to have ‘Solve It’ as a bank for innovative ideas in the State of Palestine away from existing organizations running hackathons and similar challenges. We strive to collaborate with others who are passionate to find new ways of working, and welcome feedback on what kind of incentives should be in place for better collaboration with ‘Solve It’ .
While we think that the platform will stimulate new ideas, and will fast track learning to solve the Sustainable Development Goals, we encourage our readers to suggest ways on how to be inclusive in the process and not to miss remote communities that might not be online at all. What are your thoughts? Do you think such a platform is useful? Are there missing links that we are overlooking? We want to hear from you!
Tala El-Yousef is a public health professional with experience working in complex environments. Prior to becoming the Head of Experimentation at the Palestinian UNDP Accelerator Lab, she has worked at the GIZ and the Consulate General of Sweden on telemedicine, primary health care, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and mental health. She has supported civil society organizations on improving their capacities in service provision, financial management, and anti-corruption. Tala speaks four languages and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Villanova University in Biochemistry and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University, USA.