U-Report, UNICEF’s unique social media platform to engage with communities on issues that affect them, has surpassed two million registered responders in Nigeria, the UN agency has disclosed.
U-Report uses simple Short Message Service (SMS) messages and social media to reach communities around the country and provides an opportunity for community members to share their opinions and drive positive change.
U-Report relies on volunteer community members, mostly young people, serving as U-Reporters to provide information through conducting polls on issues that affect their communities. It is also an important tool for sharing information through message alerts.
Including the more than 2 million Nigeria U-Reporters, the U-Report platform reaches communities in 39 countries around the world and has grown to almost 4 million since it was first launched in 2011.
The first U-Report poll in Nigeria was sent out in April 2014 and since then, 169 polls have been run and more than 150 alerts issued on the Nigerian U-Report platform in Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Pidgin and English. The topics include health, education, safety and security, Internally Displaced Persons, water and sanitation and violence against children, with results disseminated to Government and other relevant agencies.
Since its inception in Nigeria, UNICEF’s main partner on U-Report has been National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which has been a key player in the recruitment of responders. All states in Nigeria are represented on the platform, with the highest number of U-Reporters registered in Jigawa State.
The Office of the Vice President, Nigerian Senators and members of the House of Representatives are using U-Report to connect with their communities on important issues to find out what needs to be improved or where the focus needs to be in service delivery in their states.
“Reaching 2 million U-Reporters in Nigeria is a huge step in community engagement for improved service delivery,” said UNICEF Nigeria Representative Mohamed Fall.
“It provides an even greater opportunity for information sharing, increased stakeholder engagement and transparency as a direct channel of communication between leaders and the people they serve,” he added.
The most recent initiative is a partnership concluded October 13 with the National Emergency Management Agency which will be using the platform to share life-saving information with communities in case of emergencies such as floods and disease outbreaks.
U-Report Nigeria is running a media campaign on AIT and Radio Nigeria, where the bi-weekly poll results are shared and experts on the topic are interviewed during radio and television programmes for comment.
Poll results are also carried in PUNCH and the Guardian (Nigeria) Newspapers and a mobile application is now fully functioning with U-Reporters sharing stories from across the country and communicating with each other.
A live U-Report chat on menstrual hygiene management in September stimulated more than 10,000 questions from participants – and the answers helped to empower girls with useful information.
“To see this level of adoption of U-Report in Nigeria is extremely encouraging. It enables UNICEF to realise what is possible if we allow ourselves to think big and strive to reach as many young people as we can” said Cynthia McCaffrey, Director of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, “As Nigeria makes U-Report increasingly accessible, it also becomes increasingly relevant, as evidenced by the live chat last month on menstrual hygiene.”
“I would like to thank and commend the work of Nigeria telecommunications service providers Airtel, Etisalat, Glo and MTN for their contribution to the establishment and growth of U-Report in Nigeria,” added Mohamed Fall, “They have transcended their traditional competition in order to work together to benefit Nigeria’s children – the future of the country.”