NICEF, the Government of Malawi and partners today launched U-Report Malawi, a free mobile-based tool for community participation, designed to address issues that young people care about. The new service, which is free on both AirTel and TNM, includes regular opinion polls sent by SMS. Anyone can join U-Report by texting JOIN to 1177.
“With a growing youth population, children and young people are essential to the future development of Malawi,” Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila said. “We know that young people play an important role in the development process, and the Government encourages their participation and values their contribution.”
Hundreds of young people came together on Wednesday to participate in the U-Report launch at the Malawi College of Health Sciences campus in Lilongwe.
They were joined by award-winning Malawian hip-hop artist and UNICEF Malawi Champion for Children Fredokiss, who gave a free performance to the students. Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila, UNICEF acting Representative Roisin de Burca, and other guests spoke at the event.
“We have seen from other countries how U-Report can raise up the voice of young people and create real change for children,” UNICEF Malawi acting Representative Roisin de Burca said. “Young people have the right to a voice on issues that affect them, and U-Report Malawi offers them a platform through which they can contribute using mobile technology.”
U-Report was first launched in Uganda in 2011. Opinion polls and alerts are sent out to U-Reporters via SMS text messaging and real-time response information is collected. Polling will be conducted on issues such as access to education, health services and safe water, ending child marriage, HIV and AIDS, and violence against children. Registration and participation in polls is anonymous.
The data collected can be disaggregated by age, gender and location. Results and ideas are shared back with the community, media and Government, to inform decision making. Further information on the subjects polled is also shared with U-Reporters. All poll results will be made publicly available on the U-Report Malawi website www.ureport.mw
“There is currently nothing like U-Report in Malawi,” UNICEF Malawi acting Representative Roisin de Burca said.
She added: “We hope it will be a big success and transform the way young people are consulted on important issues like ending child marriage and keeping children in school.”
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.