UNICEF, Airtel Expand Partnership to Boost U-Report, Support Communities

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Martins Ifijeh

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has signed an agreement with Airtel Nigeria to further expand telecommunication services to boost U-report.

U-report is UNICEF’s unique social media platform that empowers young people and communities with information to transform their communities and drive positive change on issues affecting them.

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.

Speaking at the signing event in Lagos recently, the Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, said: “Airtel is pleased and excited to be a part of the history and story of U-Report and we commend 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.

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.

Sharing his thoughts, the Country Representative, UNICEF Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said: “Partnerships are essential as we continue to support communities to become active participants in finding solutions to issues that affect them. We are delighted that Airtel Nigeria shares this vision.

“The first U-Report poll in Nigeria was sent in April 2014, and since then, over 900 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,” he added.