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"We've been waiting for solutions and applications that facilitate our autonomy and independence, which means, to some extent, equal participation in society," says Isaura Baptista, a woman with visual impairment and member of the winning group of the national hackathon called Hackability4Moz - Hackathon Disability and Inclusion that took place earlier this year.

A hackathon is a competition designed to encourage participants to apply their knowledge, creativity, and skills to solve a problem through software, such as an app, that addresses the issue. In this Hackability4Moz, young Mozambican developers along with persons with disabilities were challenged to develop innovative solutions to address barriers commonly faced by persons with disabilities (1). 

Context in Mozambique

The 2017 National Population Census indicates that there are more than 700,000 persons with disabilities in the country, but the number is likely to be much higher. A large proportion of these are adolescents and young people who live in rural areas where poverty levels are higher. - Additionally, health, education, and related services are scarce or don’t exist, putting them amongst the most vulnerable. 

Several strategies have been developed by different social actors in order to promote the participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities, in particular young persons with disabilities. However, the challenge is enormous, given the low level of schooling, poor access to the labor market, sources of income, services, housing, information, social participation, and mobility difficulties (National Disability Plan, PNAD II 2012 - 2019).

Developing inclusive solutions - the process

Working to meet and overcome challenges for persons with disabilities and share ideas and innovations together, 12 teams set out in the race determined to make their mark in this relentless struggle to "leave no one behind."

Isaura testing glasses that warn of obstacles and dangers for visually impaired people

Among the competing teams, 3 stood out for their creativity, innovation, appropriateness, and sustainability. In first place was a group that presented glasses that can help visually impaired people to detect objects or obstacles above the waist that cannot be detected by the typical white cane, such as tree branches that can hit the person's head. This application is called Kuvona, which means vision in Changana, the native language spoken in southern Mozambique.

"I, as a visually impaired person, have faced many difficulties in walking since I don't know when I will encounter a tree branch, misplaced side-view mirror that can hurt me, and more. Kuvona will help me to move around because I can tell the device 'I want to go to X or Y place' and it will show me the routes saying 'turn left, turn right, now stop', and much more," says Isaura Baptista.

The second place was taken by young people who presented a website where one can get information regarding the accessibility of places in Mozambique and at the same time share success stories, complaints, and requests for support. 

The group that came in third place developed an app that allows the user to call a sign language interpreter from a phone and get real-time interpretation. For example, a hearing-impaired person goes to the doctor and uses the app to explain his or her symptoms to the sign-language interpreter, who in turn translates for the health provider.

Finalizing and launching the applications/solutions - opening up new opportunities

After winning the hackathon, the 3 teams dedicated more than 3 months to perfecting and finalizing their solutions presenting their soutions to various government and civil society institutions. 

Carlos Monjane - Member of The Blessed

"I like to innovate, to develop technological solutions. I have created many projects that I have kept at home, waiting for an opportunity to show the world. That's what happened with the solution we presented at the Hackathon on Disability and Inclusion. It was a unique opportunity because the solution already existed, it just needed some doors to be opened," shared Carlos Monjane, one of the team members of The Blessed.



Hélio Munguambe - Vice President of FAMOD


"These solutions were created to help persons with disabilities as they aim to ensure the connection between people and service providers. It is a good step towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities," said Helio Munguambe, Vice President of FAMOD, the National Umbrella of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs).


UNFPA, through its implementing partners and the Government, are committed to increasing innovation that promotes, protects, and strengthens the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities that improves their access to essential services and information, in areas ranging from health to youth empowerment to preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Innovation and new apps developed and demonstrated through initiatives like Hackathon4Moz demonstrate the opportunity to reduce inequalities and barriers and create dynamic solutions that meet the needs, concerns, and aspirations of persons with disabilities.


¹The Hackability4Moz hackathon resulted from a partnership between UNFPA; Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO); the Forum of Mozambican Associations of People with Disabilities (FAMOD); the Eduardo Mondlane University Informatics Center (CIUEM); and was financially supported by the Government of Spain under the WE DECIDE program, a UNFPA global flagship initiative focused on innovating, advocating for and ensuring that women and young people with disabilities everywhere are free from violence and discrimination, and able to exercise their rights and their sexual and reproductive health.