The massive Gorkha earthquake that shook Nepal in April brought the country to its knees as it flattened entire villages, destroyed thousands of lives and displaced millions more. Despite rubble and debris that still litters quake-stricken areas, the country is slowly yet surely getting back on its feet with the help of its most valuable resource: its youth.
As part of the nation’s rebuilding effort, more than 4,000 young Nepali signed up for the Youth for Reconstruction Appathon to put their heads together on how technology can help accelerate the country’s recovery process. Organised by Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) Nepal and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the event—made up of an ideathon, a boot camp and the final app-building competition—aimed to make changemakers out of the Nepali youth, enabling them to turn their disaster recovery ideas into mobile apps that can help improve others’ lives.
During the ideathon, students from 20 colleges in five different cities brainstormed ways and ideas to address Nepal’s recovery challenges. This was followed by a series of two-day boot camps held across the country, where participants went through intensive rounds of coding training to get equipped with the necessary skills needed to develop their own apps. Out of the 87 student teams that submitted their app ideas, 22 were selected to attend the Youth for Reconstruction Appathon held in Dhulikel.
At the end of the 72-hour solution development race, Team Caicas from the British College emerged victorious with their app, which helps quake-affected families streamline the search and buying process for temporary housing. The judges were won over by the practicality of the app, noting that it has “the potential to alleviate the urgent housing issue in the rebuilding process” as the Gorkha earthquake left at least two million Nepali homeless.
Team Code Nepal and Team Coders also impressed the judges with their winning apps, coming in second and third place respectively. Code Nepal’s V-Hub app is designed to expedite relief efforts connecting volunteers to nonprofit organisations, whereas Team Coders addressed the debris issue by developing an app that allows debris to be traded and recycled via an online marketplace.
“Nepal’s youth are the champions of innovation. The applications that the teams have developed could potentially revolutionise our work in post-disaster reconstruction,” said Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Microsoft Regional Director and Country Director of MIC Nepal. “The future belongs to the youth, and with their technological skills, we can work together for a better future.”