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UNICEF’s Adaptable Approach to Child WelfareAfter almost 70 years of protecting and supporting child welfare, UNICEF has become a household name throughout the world. But where did the name itself come from in the first place?

Like other common acronyms such as SCUBA or LASER, UNICEF has become so ingrained in everyday language that few may realize the letters themselves hold meaning:

United
Nations
International
Children’s
Emergency
Fund

When the organization was first founded by the United Nations in December of 1946, the program was entitled United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Because the program was created in the wake of World War II, its initial mission was to find speedy solutions for children left without resources and caretakers.

The post-war efforts were extremely successful: UNICEF spent $120,000,000 clothing, feeding and housing children, primarily in Europe. The results were striking and quickly lauded.

Actress Audrey Hepburn later spoke of her experiences with the organization during this time, attributing what she called her “long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does” to the fact that she was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II.

By the early 1950s, the immediate emergency needs of post-war children were mostly met. At that point, UNICEF was able to begin developing long-term plans and finding solutions for global childhood poverty, sickness and mistreatment.

At this point, in 1953, UNICEF was officially indoctrinated as a permanent program of the United Nations and shortened its name to the “United Nations Children’s Fund.” Despite the new title, the organization has kept the acronym of its previous name to this very day.

While its original purpose and title may have changed slightly since its founding, UNICEF remains committed to its overall mission of advocating for the wellbeing of all children. It is an example of an organization demonstrating adaptability in an ever-changing world.

As technology develops and advances, UNICEF takes full advantage of useful upgrades and discoveries. In 2007, the organization launched an “innovation branch,” meant to mobilize thinkers and guide funding towards technological advances helping children across the globe.

Using open source technology, all of the innovation branch’s projects harness the power of high technology for the betterment of the organization’s mission. This initiative is just one of many that reflects UNICEF’s ability to reimagine the way it approaches child welfare in a dynamic world.

While its name and focus may have changed over the years, the organization’s unyielding passion for helping the world’s children has not.

Jen Diamond

Sources: Nobel Prize, UNICEF 1, UNICEF Stories, UNICEF 2, Venture Burn
Photo: Flickr

carbon
According to the World Bank, renewable and efficient energy are key to overcoming global poverty. Researchers have recently found that carbon-based materials can offer some of the most effective sources of renewable solar energy.

The first source is an all-carbon solar cell developed by researchers at Stanford University. As the name suggests, the cell uses carbon to replace traditional silver and indium tin oxide, which are far more expensive.

What proves most beneficial about the cell is the consistency. The prototype is a thin film, and because of this, it can be placed on top of existing equipment to gather energy. This means new windows or panes do not need to be retrofitted to the new design. Instead the film can simply be placed on top and the energy will generate.

The product is still in the developmental stages, thus not yet reaching the levels of silicon solar panels. This is partially because the carbon-based material needs infrared light to function. While this is problematic, researchers are confident that they can adjust the material to make it a potent form of energy that can be used around the world.

Another carbon-based material has also been found as an excellent steam generator. Solar-powered steam is effective for electricity, but there are other uses that make it ideal for areas of the world whose only natural resource is sunlight. These include refrigeration, sterilization, chemical purification and waste treatment.

Despite its many beneficial uses, it will be hard to pass these on at a commercial level. While it might take a while, it seems that the researchers at MIT are confident about solar energy.

The verdict on both of these carbon-based materials seems to be similar: they can be quite effective but are still in nascent stages. However, the research that has happened up to this point has proven to be very promising. Researchers have looked into several different solutions to each of the unique problems posed.  The big incentive backing it should be enough cause to act.

– Andrew Rywak

Sources: The Economist, Scientific American, Gizmag
Photo: Gizmag