" ITREALMS: Airtel, UNICEF partner to empower Nigerian communities

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Airtel, UNICEF partner to empower Nigerian communities

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Airtel Nigeria are partnering to expand their collaboration across all 36 states and FCT in Nigeria, reports ITRealms.

The accord, ITRealms learnt, allows UNICEF to tap into Airtel’s mobile services to make health, education, child protection and community-focused content available to Airtel customers across the country. Through improved connectivity, more Nigerians will have free access to mobile applications and services developed by UNICEF, such as U-Report.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough, said “UNICEF is committed to providing innovative solutions towards better delivery of services and social change. This partnership with Airtel has the potential to empower millions of Nigerians through access to information and with opportunities to help them transform their societies.”

U-Report, which Nigerians could belong to by texting the word ‘JOIN’ to 24453, is a free innovative SMS-based platform that empowers Nigerians to participate and engage in policy-making and governance and to access real time information on key social issues. The platform,ITRealms also reports, was launched officially in Nigeria on 29April, 2015, has over 400,000 registered users, making Nigeria the leading U-Report platform globally, among 16 other countries that are running the same application.

According to UNICEF, about 15 million text messages were sent and received through the U-Report platform while the country battled Ebola in 2014, ahead of the official U-Report launch this year. 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 combat rumours about mythical remedies such as bathing with hot water and salt and taking bitter kola to cure the disease. U-Report participants were informed about how to identify the disease, and how to keep safe.

The support provided by Airtel, ITRealms learnt, has enabled U-Report to grow into a vibrant tool to empower Nigerians. UNICEF said it looks forward to continued collaboration and expansion, striving to achieve its target of 1 million U-Reporters by the end of this year.

Cyriacus Nnaji/GEE 

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