The efforts by UNICEF to empower young people and communities with information to transform their communities and drive positive change has received a boost with the signing of an agreement between
UNICEF and AIRTEL Nigeria to further expand telecommunication services to boost its unique social media platform U-Report.
U-Report uses simple short message service (SMS) and social media to reach more than three million responders (U-Reporters) across all states in Nigeria on critical issues such as access to education, skills development and employability, water and sanitation, health, violence against children, safety and security, and the needs of internally displaced persons.
UNICEF relies on volunteers from the community, mostly young people serving as U-Reporters, to provide information through polls and the results generated from U-Report polls are shared with the office of the Vice President of Nigeria and other relevant agencies for necessary action.
Mr Segun Ogunsanya, AIRTEL Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, at the signing ceremony expressed delight at being a part of the history and story of U-Report. He commended UNICEF for blazing the trail in empowering young people and giving a voice to the voiceless.
According to Ogunsanya, the partnership with UNICEF will provide more Nigerians with a voice and also promote a more inclusive society.
He said Airtel Nigeria is also passionate about empowering people and providing them an opportunity to rediscover themselves and to become successful in their personal and professional endeavors.
Recall that U-Report introduced a second platform in Nigeria, U-Report 24×7, almost a year ago, dedicated to serving the needs of affected populations in the north-east states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. It has become a trusted channel for sharing lifesaving information on essential household practices to adopt by communities during emergencies, such as disease outbreaks.
U-Report is a platform for increased stakeholder engagement and community empowerment.
UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins while commending AIRTEL Nigeria for a shared vision of the project, said “Partnerships are essential as UNICEF continues to support communities to become active participants in finding solutions to issues that affect them”
The first U-Report poll in Nigeria was sent in April 2014, and since then over nine hundred polls have been shared on the platform in English and the major Nigerian languages of Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and Pidgin, making the platform inclusive.
Political office holders also use the U-Report platform to connect with their constituencies to find out their service delivery needs and areas for improvement.