Making Policy from the Ground Up - A Crowd Sourcing Strategy for HIV Prevention and Youth
Can a web-based, crowdsourcing technology project engage young people in developing AIDS policy? The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) hopes that its new CrowdOutAIDS.org site will prove that it can.
UNAIDS launched the innovative, collaborative project in October. The project aims to create a new strategy on youth and HIV by and for young people in four steps: Connect, Share, Find Solutions, and Collective Action.
Every day, 3,000 young people become infected with HIV, and many of the 5 million young people living with HIV are without access to treatment, according to UNAIDS.
“We’re asking youth around the world to debate, draft and work with UNAIDS to implement this new strategy,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “It is absolutely critical that we engage young people—not as recipients of our messages but as the actors and creators of change.”
A simple signup sheet encourages young people 15-29 years of age to join the online conversation in one of eight different regions. Young people will be able to shape the new strategy from conceptualization to final drafting via a wiki-platform, according to the press release. The project will run over a period of two months with the final crowdsourced strategy being produced in January, 2012.
- Connect young people who want to help through tools like Facebook, blogs, Google Docs, and Orkut (a social networking site operated by Google, popular in India and Brazil).
- Engage in conversations about the key issues young people face.
- Put decision-making in the hands of young people.
- Collectively agree on actions—and get young people to draft the strategy!
Moderators summarize the conversations and issues raised within their regional forums on the CrowdOutAIDS blog. Allen Kwabena Frimpong (a moderator in the North America, Western Europe, and the Caribbean CrowdOutAIDS forums) quoted a week one forum participant: “I hear about countless youth forums, conferences, ambassadorships etc. where young people get to voice their view in the name of youth engagement and leadership – but this is not enough. In the end, the same people are making all the calls.”
If successful, The UNAIDS crowdsourcing experiment—the first in the UN System—could prove to be a breakthrough methodology for setting policy in all sorts of other health arenas.
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