By Ndidichukwu Odoh
U-Report, a unique social media platform to engage with communities on issues that affect them, surpassed three million registered responders in Nigeria today, the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF has said.
UNICEF’s U-Report uses simple SMS messages and social media to reach communities around the country and provides an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their opinions and drive positive change in the country.
U-Report relies on volunteer U-Reporters to provide critical information on issues affecting their communities through polls. It is also a valuable tool for sharing information through message alerts.
The U-Report platform reaches communities in 54 countries around the world and has grown to almost 7 million responders globally, since it was first launched in 2011.
UNICEF data shows that more than two out of five UReporters worldwide are in Nigeria.
“The first U-Report poll in Nigeria was sent out in April 2014 and since then, almost 300 polls have been run on the platform in Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Pidgin and English. 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” UNICEF’s press release today said.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a partner, and 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 critical issues to find out what needs to be improved or where the focus needs to be in service delivery in their states.
“Reaching 3 million U-Reporters in Nigeria is a huge step in empowering young Nigerians with information to transform their communities,” said UNICEF Nigeria Representative Mohamed Fall.
“U-Report provides a great opportunity for increased engagement and transparency as a direct channel of communication between leaders and the people they serve,” he added.
A second U-Report platform was recently established in Nigeria: U-Report 24×7, dedicated to populations affected by conflict in the north-east states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Reaching about 60,000 over the past five months, the platform shares life-saving information with communities in case of emergencies, such as disease outbreaks. For the first time, UReport 24×7 employs voice communication alongside text messaging, to make the platform accessible to those who cannot read or write.
The charity commends mobile network operators in Nigeria – AirTel, Etisalat, Glo and MTN – being a UReporter is free. it said AirTel also provides free voice minutes for use for UReport 24×7. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides funding support for U-Report Nigeria.
To become a U-Reporter in Nigeria, you can register on social media by simply sending JOIN to U-Report Nigeria on Facebook or send JOIN as a direct message on Twitter to @Ureportnigeria. By text, send the word ‘JOIN’ to 24453 and voice your opinion. All options are free.
All U-Report polls can be accessed on the public website www.nigeria.ureport.in