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Saturday, May 02, 2015

U-Report targets one million members in 2015

UNICEF and partners at the launch of the U-Report, an innovative SMS-based platform that empowers Nigerians by enabling them to participate and engage in
policy-making, governance and access real time information on key social issues said, they are expecting over a million members by the end of 2015, ITRealms reports.

“Today more than ever before community journalism through communication technology can help engender good governance, accountability, social change and improve health standards,’’ said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. ‘U-Report platform provides a thrilling opportunity to contribute to positive social change in the Nigeria,’ she noted.

Director-General National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), Brig-Gen. J.B Olawumi, represented by a Director in the Service, Thursday in Lagos, ITRealms gathered stated that “NYSC has continued to serve as a tool for the promotion of national integration and utilization of the energies and skills of Nigerian graduate youths for national development.

Olawumi,  at Federal Palace Hotel, venue of the launch, elaborated more by saying that it is not surprising that Unisef has found a strong ally in NYSC in the realization of the objectives of the U-report Initiative stating that the NYSC contributed greatly 
to the ‘My World Survey, a preparatory activity for the post-MDGs Global 

Development Agenda in 2013. During the first phase of the survey, the Scheme won a UN award as the most outstanding contributor at the 2013 Partners’ Recognition Award in New York, adding that in 2014, over 1-2 million votes were uploaded making NYSC and Nigeria one of the organizations and countries with the highest number of votes for the survey,” Olawumi stated. He assured that the Scheme on its part will mobilize 1million U-Reporters by the end of June.

ITRealms gathered that U-Report enables those who voluntarily register – known as U-reporters - to speak-out on what is happening in their communities, provides a forum to amplify their voices through local and national media, sends alerts to key stakeholders about the issues their constituents are facing, and feeds back useful information to the U-Reporters, so they are empowered to work for positive change and improvements in their localities. The platform provides decision makers a forum to listen to millions of voices through simple messaging.

In the last one year with support from Airtel, MTN, GLO and Etisalat, ITRealms learnt, the number of U-reporters has rapidly grown to about 200,000 with thousands joining every month from all parts of the country. It is expected to top a million by the end of 2015. It has also attracted strategic partnerships with civil society organizations, UN agencies and Government ministries, who contribute by selecting poll questions and promoting the platform to Nigerian citizens, as a tool for civic engagement and community empowerment

About 15 million text messages were sent out through the U-Report platform while the country battled Ebola. The awareness messages and real time responses via sms and on the U-report Social media platforms sent out during the Ebola outbreak were able to address mythical cures like bathing with hot water and salt, taking bitter kola to cure the disease . U-Reporters were informed on how to identify the disease, and how to keep safe, ITRealms learnt.

Cyraicus Nnaji/ ED,OPs 
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