Building Student Change Agent Capabilities: Case UniWASH in Uganda

  • Riina Subra
  • Mikko Koria
  • Oona Timonen
  • Stella Neema
  • Annika Launiala


In this chapter, we examine youth-led innovation in the context of a recent multi-stakeholder development project, in which university students from Uganda and Finland collaborated to generate solutions to water and sanitation problems faced by schoolchildren in Northern Uganda. We focus on the project’s impact on developing change agent capabilities among the participating students and discuss the practical implications for the design and facilitation of similar initiatives. With a view to contributing to the planning of similar initiatives in the future, we propose a framework depicting the approaches and principles applied in this project and their relevance toward the acquisition of individual capabilities and social competencies underpinning critical change agency and responsible leadership.


Youth change agency Inclusive innovation Multi-stakeholder collaboration Water and sanitation Uganda 



The authors are thankful to Kone Foundation for the funding of The Change in Development Paradigm—New Possibilities for Value-based Corporate Partnerships in Development Cooperation research project, which has made the publication of this book chapter possible. While all the authors have contributed to their specific topics, the key points, framing, and data analysis have been jointly developed. The first author, Riina Subra, was the key contributor to the overall framing, and research data has been collected by Oona Timonen, together with Victor Guma. The last author, Annika Launiala, is the research director of The Change in Development Paradigm Research Project by UNICEF Finland, to which this study contributes. A special thank you to all the students and partners of UniWASH, and to Ugandan researcher Victor Guma, who carried out the interviews with the Ugandan students, as well as the known and anonymous contributors and reviewers for valuable observations and comments. Sincere and warm thank you for UNICEF that has provided valuable support regarding UniWASH project and student engagement since 2010. It should be noted that the opinions and arguments expressed in this book chapter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of UNICEF or other partner organizations.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riina Subra
    • 1
  • Mikko Koria
    • 2
  • Oona Timonen
    • 3
  • Stella Neema
    • 4
  • Annika Launiala
    • 3
  1. 1.Aalto UniversityHelsinki UniversityHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Loughborough University LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.UNICEF FinlandHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda

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