UNICEF Uganda, through a unique Technology for Development unit, is working closely with the Government and partners to develop and implement innovative solutions to keep children alive, safe, and learning.
These innovations use widely available technologies like basic mobile phones and text messaging service, and will make it easier to keep track of medicine stocks, upload and share information on the quality of community services, increase access to information for those who need it most, quickly register children’s births, and help the Government plan for better service delivery.
In addition, the innovations aim to help young Ugandans realize their right to participation, and are one step forward in ensuring transparency and accountability at the grassroots level.
Birth Registration using Mobile Phones
Without birth registration, a child’s existence, age, and citizenship can be called into question. This makes it difficult to protect her or him from childhood-robbing problems like child labour, underage military service, child marriage, and being unfairly treated as an adult when in conflict with the law.
In a groundbreaking move to keep children safe, the Government with support from UNICEF and our partner, Uganda Telecom, will implement a solution called MobileVRS that uses mobile phone technology to complete birth registration procedures in minutes, a process that normally takes months. By using MobileVRS and engaging with community-level ‘notifiers’, UNICEF aims to ensure up to 80 per cent of children under 5 are registered at birth by 2014.
The Digital Drum – Increasing Access to Information via Rugged Solar-Powered Computers
Mobile health (mHealth) - Using RapidSMS for Faster Reporting and Response
Through the Rapid SMS mHealth package, UNICEF and partners predict the Ministry of Health could be receiving SMS health reports from 900 health facilities and 4,000 community-level health workers in 2012.
mTRAC: Monitoring Essential Medicine Supply using Mobile Phones and RapidSMS mTRAC is an innovation using SMS to track the health facility stock of essential medicines like the anti-malarial drug ACT. Launched by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and our partner FIND Diagnostics, mTRAC allows health facility workers to send government reports by SMS, including real-time data to map facility stocks. The aim is to avoid unnecessary stock-outs and to ensure transparency and accountability for the drugs. Using mTRAC, the Ministry of Health will receive real-time information on medicine stocks, and district health offices will be able to successfully lobby the National Medical Stores for resupply based on their ability to present reliable and timely data.
Monitoring the Quality and Safety of Schools using SMS
The information collected – such as on teacher absenteeism, violence against children in schools, and the functionality of water points – will make it easier for the Government to target interventions, and will provide greater accountability to communities in terms of the quality of education available to their children.
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