What do a low-tech invention for safe handwashing in rural Ghana, a social-distancing wearable made in Belgium and a program helping Jordan’s vulnerable communities grow their online businesses all have in common?

They are among the five new projects joining Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme, following a call for short- and long-term solutions to the challenges brought on by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SafeDistance, Lopos, Belgium

Picture: SafeDistance, Lopos, Belgium

The quintet of additions – which also includes delivering essential healthcare using offline mobile-phone apps across remote communities and interactive videos to help keep kids active and happy at home – takes the number of best practice solutions to 50. All are simple, effective, and locally-based innovations that address some of the world’s biggest challenges, including those laid out in the Sustainable Development Agenda – 17 global targets designed to achieve peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

Launched in September 2020, Expo’s call for COVID-related proposals received applications from 318 projects, in 78 different countries, across five focus areas: Digitalisation; Education and Skills Development; Health and Wellbeing; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Protecting Livelihoods.

The additional projects were announced on 21 April to coincide with World Creativity and Innovation Day – celebrating human ingenuity and the creative economy, and their essential role in helping communities throughout the pandemic.

They are:

  • SafeDistance, Lopos, Belgium: SafeDistance is a small, light, portable device that measures the distance to other SafeDistance sensors in real-time to ensure sufficient spacing between people. This wearable device immediately warns wearers when social distancing is not being respected through an alarm, flashing lights, and vibrations. The device can also assist with track and trace for COVID-19 infections.
  • ‘Mi Casa, Mi Cancha’, Fútbol Más, Chile: Video series ‘Mi Casa, Mi Cancha’ (My Home, My Playground) seeks to promote education and physical activity for children and adolescents, ages six to 14, whose access to space is reduced. The series generates active routines, raising awareness while improving mental and physical health at home without the need for sports equipment.
  • Reach52, reach52, Singapore: Delivering healthcare for rural populations using offline-first mobile apps and low-tech platforms, reach52 responded to COVID-19 by training frontline community health workers through a mobile-phone eLearning platform – addressing misinformation and enabling communities to accurately check their symptoms. It has services in more than 1,000 communities in rural India, the Philippines, and Cambodia.
  • SitatByoot and Makesy, SitatByoot, Jordan: In response to COVID-19, SitatByoot developed a new vocational training program, focused on sewing, crocheting, embroidery, and home-based business skills, for vulnerable communities in Jordan. As users progress in the training, they gain skills to accelerate their online home-based business, have opportunities to be employed by local garment factories and become certified ‘Makers’ through SitatByoot’s sister e-commerce platform and app, Makesy.
  • Maji Bucket, Project Maji, UAE (Ghana): Running a handwashing and soap distribution campaign in rural Ghana, Project Maji has trained thousands of people of determination on proper hand-hygiene practices and distributed bars of soap across Ghana’s Maji communities. Paired with this hand-hygiene campaign, it has also devised the ‘Maji Bucket’ – a low-cost, easily replicable, and inclusive facility to ensure safe handwashing practices in the country’s rural areas.

Picture: SafeDistance, Lopos, Belgium

SafeDistance, Lopos, Belgium

The Global Best Practice Programme honors a 2010 BIE mandate for all World Expos to spotlight solutions that can be replicated, adapted, and scaled for greater global impact – highlighting World Expos as powerful platforms for inspiring change and driving human progress.