Literacy Bridge, UNICEF, ARM Unite on Talking Books project in Ghana

As the United Nations marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, humanitarian technology company Literacy Bridge has announced a new multi-year partnership with UNICEF and ARM to deliver health education to 40,000 vulnerable people in Ghana, using Talking Book mobile devices.

Literacy Bridge’s new partnership with UNICEF, the United Nations agency dedicated to the rights and wellbeing of children, and ARM, the company designing processor technology for the world’s most advanced digital products is focused around delivering life-saving maternal and child health information in Ghana’s most remote villages. The project will utilize Talking Book mobile devices to serve around 40,000 people immediately, with an ambition to double that reach within a year. Talking Books were developed in 2007 by Literacy Bridge to give people without literacy skills access to audio recordings of interviews, songs, and dramas that address life-saving health and agriculture advice.

This critical collaboration will expand Literacy Bridge’s Health Behavior Change Program to help approximately 50 of Ghana’s poorest communities. The team will assess the project’s impact on several behavior change objectives, including:

• Ebola and cholera prevention and treatment options

• Treatment of diarrhea in children using Oral Rehydration Solutions

• Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life

• Identifying and treating diseased crops

• Creating and applying organic fertilizer using manure from livestock

• The importance of planting seeds in rows of beds instead of mounds

“Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book Program is an innovative use of low-cost, mobile technology to influence critical behaviors that impact the lives and opportunities of the most vulnerable and excluded children,” said UNICEF Ghana Country Representative Susan Namondo Ngongi. “We are pleased to partner on the Behavior Change Program because of its potential to immediately help tens of thousands of people who are the most difficult to reach due to illiteracy, lack of electricity, and geographic isolation.”

ARM and UNICEF are providing most of the financial support for this $750,000 project. ARM, an existing supporter, is also collaborating with Literacy Bridge to reduce technology costs and further improve the energy efficiency of the Talking Books as they utilize ARM processor technology.

“Literacy Bridge set out to design a mobile platform that took account of the challenges often found in the developing world including the availability of power,” said Dominic Vergine, Director of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at ARM. “The focus was on delivering quality local language education in the most energy-efficient way. Re-purposing existing technology wasn’t a viable option but Literacy Bridge’s new approach with the Talking Books is succeeding and early trials of the technology have shown huge potential for both philanthropic and business benefit.”

“This expansion is an important step in testing the scale of our program. With UNICEF’s leadership in the issues that affect the lives of children, and with ARM’s leadership in using technology to create a better world, we couldn’t have a better pair of partners as we look towards reaching millions of children in the coming years,” Cliff Schmidt, Founder and Executive Director of Literacy Bridge.


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