To help speed the delivery of blood samples from rural clinics in Malawi to testing facilities, UNICEF is experimenting with whether those deliveries can be delivered by drone. Typically, blood samples and other medical items are transported by motorbikes along little more than dirt tracks; crashes, repairs, fuel costs, and other issues can slow these deliveries down, delaying procedures and lab results. The test flights are currently being conducted on a 10 km route between a community health center and a hospital laboratory. If the pilot is successful, up to 250 tests could be delivered in one flight.
As part of a series of anti-poverty measures, the province of Ontario has announced a basic income pilot program to assure that its citizens can pay for daily essentials. Under the pilot, eligible residents will receive monthly checks to cover living expenses such as food, transportation, clothing, and utilities — no strings attached. The goal is to see whether just the right amount of income will spur most people to still pursue employment while providing the minimum amount of support to those who cannot work, as well as to determine whether reliable financial support will create the space for motivated persons to invest in education and entrepreneurialism. Finland and the Netherlands are also in the midst of piloting similar programs.
To help empower young women, some New York City public schools in the city’s most impoverished areas will now provide free feminine hygiene products in girls’ restrooms. Lack of dependable access to sanitary products for girls can force them to miss some or all of a school day, impeding educational progress, causing embarrassment, and affecting their health. Since the project launched, officials have observed that attendance at schools has increased and fewer girls are asking to be excused from their classes throughout the day.
To prepare soon to be released inmates for the modern economy, several California prisons have joined a growing list of facilities nationwide that are training inmates on how to work in the emerging field of aquaponics. Aquaponics symbiotically combines into one environment conventional aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics (plant cultivation in water environments). Recruits for the growing aquaponics industry, which uses less water, no pesticides, and grows food faster, are in high demand, providing potential job opportunities to interested participants upon their release. Other facilities in Washington, Colorado, Texas, and Florida have launched similar programs in recent years.
This spring, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is embarking on a cultural mapping and assessment process to identify and activate the cultural assets of the community that attract visitors and residents, increasing the quality of life for all. The process of creating the cultural roadmap will include public engagement and citywide conversations at the neighborhood level as well as cross-sector convenings. The resulting framework will include an interactive map of cultural assets, a needs assessment, benchmarking of comparable cities, and recommendations. A feasibility study of a potential cultural office will also be included. Other cities, such as Savannah, Georgia, and San Antonio are among those that have adopted cultural master plans or done cultural mapping.
The Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and the Maryland Department of Commerce are piloting Apprenticeship Maryland in the Frederick County and Washington County school systems. Under the program, local businesses in STEM and manufacturing fields will take on around 60 juniors and seniors in apprentice positions in order for the students to gain knowledge and skills about many and varied jobs and careers while working for the business. Unlike a traditional internship, the two-year apprenticeship will complement coursework that students take in parallel, with the student spending up to half of their school day with the employer and the employer paying the student as if they were an employee. Local businesses will also benefit by getting connected to motivated, potential future employees.