The United Nation Children’s Fund, UNICEF has signed an agreement with AIRTEL Nigeria to further expand telecommunication services to boost U-Report, UNICEF’s unique social media platform that empowers young people and communities with information to transform their communities and drive positive change on a wide range of issues affecting them.
According to the UNICEF Communication Officer in Lagos office, Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor, 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.
She explained further that, U-Report relies on volunteers from the community, mostly young people serving as U-Reporters, to provide information through polls, while 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.
Speaking at the signing event, Segun Ogunsanya, AIRTEL Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, said, Airtel was pleased to be 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.
“We believe this partnership with UNICEF will provide more Nigerians with a voice and also promote a more inclusive society, a cause we are passionate about.
“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.
“We are confident that U-report will continue to deliver value in the remotest locations as we explore more innovative and sustainable ways of helping the underprivileged and also promoting corporate philanthropy”, he said.
Responding, the UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Hawkins noted that partnerships are essential as the organisation continues to support communities to become active participants in finding solutions to issues that affect them.
“We are delighted that AIRTEL Nigeria shares this vision,” he said.
He explained 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.
He added the initiative had 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”, he said.
According to Ejiofor, 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