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Somalia, 6 December 2016: Africa's Voices Foundation recognized for groundbreaking research work

Africa’s Voices Foundation receives the President's Medal at the 2016 Market Research Society Awards. The Prestigious prize recognizes extraordinary achievement in social and market research.

LONDON, 6 December 2016 – Africa’s Voices Foundation is pleased to announce that it has received the prestigious Market Research Society’s 2016 President’s Medal for its pioneering work using digital communications to gain insights from hard to reach communities in Somalia. The medal was presented to Africa’s Voices at an award ceremony held at Supernova in London last night.

The Market Research Society’s President’s Medal is awarded to organizations or individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to social and market research. Past winners have included BBC Media Action and StreetInvest.

Africa’s Voices, a non-profit research organization originating from the University of Cambridge, was recognized for a pilot project with UNICEF Somalia, where it used interactive radio shows and SMS to gather people’s beliefs and practices related to polio vaccinations, and maternal and neonatal health.

Through the eight-week project, Africa’s Voices analysed over 15,000 text messages (in Somali) from over 8,400 people – 44 per cent being women. The data and rich insights gained will inform UNICEF's child health and immunization work in Somalia.

Speaking at the ceremony, the President of the Market Research Society, Dame Dianne Thompson, said Africa’s Voices highlights the opportunities provided by new digital communications to gain insights from isolated communities.

“In a country with insecure and inaccessible regions, Africa’s Voices has developed an admirable partnership with UNICEF Somalia. Their work helps to amplify the voices of hard-to-reach communities and is proof positive of research as a force for good,” Dame Dianne Thompson said.

Africa’s Voices Director, Dr Sharath Srinivasan, said: “We’re excited about how seizing the communications revolution, through rigorous, innovative research, can amplify hard-to-reach citizens’ voices and enhance well-being in African countries. To be recognized by the Market Research Society with the President’s Medal so early on in our journey puts wind in our sails."

Africa's Voices is currently implementing a longer-term partnership with UNICEF Somalia, building on the work of the pilot project. Over a 30-week period, interactive radio programmes on a wider range of health topics are being broadcast on 26 radio stations across Somalia, giving the new campaign the potential to reach 70 per cent of the Somali population. Radio programs are produced and distributed by a local media partner, MediaINK.

Other organizations have also partnered with Africa's Voices to gain a stronger understanding of local views. In Kenya, Africa's Voices partnered with Oxfam to collect and analyse community attitudes towards taxes, the national budget, and oil and gas exploration.

"Africa's Voices ability to stimulate inclusive dialogue and collect opinions of marginalized communities in local languages through simple technologies has been invaluable in informing how we engage with our target beneficiaries,” said Oxfam Kenya’s Communication and Information Advisor, Joyce Kabue.

“Africa's Voices approach is simple, interactive and reaches people living in areas with low connectivity,” Ms Kabue added.

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About Africa’s Voices Foundation
Formed in 2014, Africa's Voices' vision is to put citizens’ voices at the centre of development and governance projects in Africa. To achieve this, Africa’s Voices gathers and analyses data from radio programmes, SMS and instant messaging to provide organizations with actionable evidence to deliver public goods in a more responsive, accountable and effective way. Learn more about Africa’s Voices by visiting www.africasvoices.org.

About the Market Research Society and the President’s Medal
With members in more than 60 countries, the Market Research Society is the world’s largest research association serving all those with professional equity in provision or use of market, social and opinion research, and in business intelligence, market analysis, customer insight and consultancy.

The President's Medal was introduced in 2012 to recognize organizations or individuals that have made an extraordinary contribution to research. This is a broad criteria, purposefully, to allow for the widest range of individuals and organizations to be considered. The key factor is that the winner must have done the ‘extraordinary’ – achieving something beyond the ordinary bounds of social and market research. The shortlist of candidates is selected by the President’s Medal Panel, which consists of the CEO, Co-Chairs and President of MRS. Learn more by visiting www.mrs.org.uk.

 

 
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