U-Reporters help shape Jamaica’s COVID-19 response

Jamaica’s Prime Minister hosts a live, online town-hall for children and young people

Ross Sheil, Digital Media Officer, UNICEF Jamaica
U-Reporter Hakeem Bryan, a member of our 2019-2020 Youth Council smiles at the camera
UNICEF Jamaica
13 April 2020

In partnership with U-Report, UNICEF’s free and confidential mobile empowerment platform, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has hosted a live, online town-hall meeting for children and young people on the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just twenty-four hours from a poll that asked Jamaica’s 10,000 U-Reporters for their ideas and questions around the coronavirus response, young poll respondents had their queries answered live by the country’s leaders on Facebook.

“When will the government re-open all the places?” asked a 17-year-old girl from the parish of St. Mary, the first question from a U-Reporter answered by the Prime Minister.

With Jamaica’s curfew now further extended, the date for the re-opening of schools may not be soon, and many U-Reporters are worried about the impact on their lives and education, especially related to exams that are usually held in the summer months.

Screenshot of U-Report message a poll that asked Jamaica’s 10,000 U-Reporters for their ideas and questions around the coronavirus response, young poll respondents had their queries answered live by the country’s leaders on Facebook.
U-Report Jamaica
Screenshot of the U-Report poll in Jamaica - asking 10,000 U-Reporters for around the coronavirus response, and where answers we shared by the country’s leaders live on Facebook.

“What we want is a free flow of correct information that empowers reason and changes behaviour, Prime Minister Holness explained.  

“We’re enlisting our young people in the fight against the epidemic by empowering you with information, so that you can use that information in your homes, to have your households change behaviour.”

Participants shared the Prime Minister’s concern about members of the public not following the government’s guidance including social distancing.

A 19-year-old U-Reporter from Kingston reported seeing a football game of 20 people at a time when the government had already limited public gatherings to 10 people.

“Always remember the safest person is yourself!” said Alando Terrelonge, Jamaica’s Minister of Education, Youth and Information.

“We’re asking everyone to be careful and to be cautious, but don’t be scornful or beat people up. Don’t resort to violence, abuse, disrespectful and discriminatory kinds of behaviour if you suspect someone might have the illness.”

Prime Minister Holness answers questions submitted by young U-Reporters live on Facebook
UNICEF Jamaica
Prime Minister Holness answers questions submitted by young U-Reporters live on Facebook

Jamaican U-Reporters can access a COVID-19 messaging bot to learn key facts and reject myths, produced globally by the World Health Organization (WHO), Red Cross and UNICEF. The Jamaican version was localized in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

To access the chat bot in Jamaica, message the word CORONAVIRUS to U-Report either via @ureportjamaica on Facebook and Facebook Messenger; or text the same word CORONAVIRUS to 876-838-4897 with SMS messages being free for customers of FLOW, our partnering mobile network operator.

U-Report will continue to assist the Jamaican government and non-government partners to respond to COVID-19, as part of the overall UNICEF response, as previously during the outbreak of the mosquito-borne dengue epidemic in 2019.
 


U-Report: key to the global COVID-19 response

Across 24 countries, millions of young people are getting life-saving information on COVID-19 through U-Report on SMS, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Viber.

Since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, U-Reporter numbers worldwide have surged to over 10 million. New and existing users include refugees, migrants and other vulnerable groups.

“U-Report is a crucial platform in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr. Fayaz King, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation.

“It gives people clear, scientific facts on the symptoms, prevention and transmission of COVID-19,”

Find out more: https://www.unicef.org/innovation/ureportCOVID19