UNICEF, in collaboration with Swazi MTN and NERCHA have embarked on a national multi-sectoral partnership that will introduce an SMS-based platform to promote fast and participatory communication between providers and end-users. This service will be known as a ‘U-Report’.
This was revealed by UNICEF Representative Rachel Odede who was represented by UNICEF’S HIV/AIDS Specialist Dr. Florence Naluyinda-Kitabire at the MTN Bushfire Schools’ Festival official launch last week.
“The U-Report project will engage a lot of young people, parents and community leaders who will become ambassadors of their communities, through sending text messages directly to a short code 8 500, report gaps in services, get swift responses, and trigger action,” said Odede.
She mentioned that this innovation would be an important tool for government agencies and development partners to respond to specific problems, carry out planning relevant to the issues on the ground, and conduct real-time monitoring of their programmes.
“During this year’s schools’ festival, the first group of U-Report ambassadors will be recruited, paving way for a nationwide recruitment process and trainings throughout the year,” she said.
Odede said UNICEF remained committed to working with government and all other stakeholders to improve the quality of life for Swazi children and young people.
On another note, Odede said the Bushfire festival has become a major calendar event for the promotion and appreciation of the arts in Swaziland.
“Over the past years, this festival has incorporated a number of educational activities for children and young people, including the schools festival,” she said.
“It is significant to all of us working with children and young people because it gives them the opportunity to exchange ideas and share experiences through the use of art. Through these shared experiences, the children are able to find solutions to the challenges they face,” she said.