On July 16th, UNICEF’s U-Report, a groundbreaking text-message based innovation that amplifies the voices and views of young people in developing countries, reached over one million active users.
This has allowed many young people in developing countries, who would otherwise not have a voice, to share opinions on everything from skills they think would be the most beneficial in the working world to the best way to deal with country policy.
This information is recorded as documentation of the real-time insights of people living with the current problems of the world. Local governments of these developing countries can view U-Report statistics and information to ascertain the perspective of future generations.
Once a person joins U-Report, they can receive weekly SMS messages and polls to and from a growing community of U-Reporters, regular radio programs that will broadcast relevant stories, and newspaper articles that will publish news from the local community.
“U-Report is an entirely new model for engaging young people, empowering communities, and holding governments more accountable,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, where the platform is helping UNICEF workers share critical information about Ebola, polio, and newborn care with families living in remote areas that health workers cannot easily reach.
U-Report has become so popular and influential within Africa that Airtel Nigeria, a telecommunications company, has partnered with UNICEF to make U-Report more accessible. Through this improved connectivity, more Nigerians will have free access to the mobile applications and services developed by UNICEF. The partnership increases the information and provides more opportunities for participation by allowing UNICEF to tap into Airtel’s mobile services to make health, education, child protection and community-focused content readily available to all Airtel Nigeria customers.
These strides by UNICEF to make global awareness readily accessible to young people have improved the chances in the future for a better, more connected global society.
– Alysha Biemolt