U-Report – COVID-19 outbreak response

Facilitating the exchange of lifesaving information for millions of young people across 50 countries and counting

U-Report Team
A young U-Reporter accessing her phone from Bouake, a city in central Côte d'Ivoire,
UNICEF/UN0161093/Diarassouba

09 April 2020

In February 2020 the U-Report for Humanitarian Action initiative, a joint effort of Office of Innovation , Programme division , Communication for development and Office of Emergency programmes developed a U-Report Information chatbot to support COVID-19 Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE).

As of 15th May 2020, U-Report’s Covid-19 bot has been 

  • ·         Accessed by over 5 million people 
  • ·         Across 50 countries 
  • ·         Over 6.5 million interactions

What is the COVID-19 Information Chatbot? 

Chatbot = a preprogrammed conversation between a computer and a human user. 

Through communication channels like SMS, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp users can ask U-Report questions about the Corona Virus and received preprogrammed answers from experts on the matter. 

The COVID-19 bot strengthens UNICEF’s ability to assess needs, tackle misinformation, and in partnership with governments share reliable information on where communities can seek assistance. It was initially intended to be a support tool for the U-Report programme and its 68 active countries. 
 

Young people and communities can access:
 

  • Safe, speedy and accurate information on the Coronavirus direct to your phone on five messaging channels: SMS, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp and Telegram.
  • Life-saving information on Corona Virus available in multiple languages, English, Spanish, French, Bahasa, Arabic, Vietnamese, Thai, etc. Translation to new languages can be easily done during deployment.
  • A free platform, anonymous for young people and communities to access information and participate - the COVID-19 Information Chatbot is helping countries and communities spread facts, plug information gaps, report rumors and counter misinformation around the new Coronavirus.
  • U-Report is implemented by UNICEF and partners globally, delivering programmatic response in emergency context along with governments. The COVID-19 Information Chatbot can be easily localized to specific programmatic contexts and beneficiary groups, and is already being repurposed within UNICEF beyond U-Report.
  • UNICEF's COVID-19 Information Chatbot is countering the potential harmful effects of misinformation circulating through COVID-19 chatbot rumor tracking function. Young people and communities have the ability to report rumors they are hearing to UNICEF. An automated debunking function is being developed to debunk the rumors.
  • UNICEF and Partners  assess and measure secondary impact of COVID-19 in the lives of children, young people, parents and communities ​through U-Report

     

The COVID-19 Information Chatbot Interface

 Below are screenshots from people using CoronaVirus chatbot. Version 3 of the chatbot has been developed where the content and navigation have been revised based on current UNICEF and WHO guidelines. The new version also makes it easier for country teams to localize the content and introduces misinformation and rumour tracking functionality.

Screenshots of version 1 of the chatbot application.
U-Report
Below are screenshots from people using COVID-19 chatbot. New versions of the chatbot are released frequently based on updated UNICEF and WHO guidelines. The COVID-19 chatbot updates makes it easier for country teams to localize the content and introduce new functionality such as misinformation and rumour tracking.

Try the COVID-19 Information Chatbot yourself using U-Report Global! 

Using WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger you can access the current version of the COVID-19 Information Chatbot,

  • WhatsApp: Send “CoronaVirus” to +66 80 024 9442.  
  • Facebook Messenger: Send ‘CoronaVirus’ using Facebook Messenger at http://m.me/UReportGlobal
  • Viber: Follow ‘U-Report’ Public Account on Viber (Go to Discover), Send the message ‘CoronaVirus’
  • National deployments typically include localized content relevant to that country context. 

For more information contact: 

  • Tanya Accone, Senior Advisor on Innovation and Scale, Deputy at Global Innovation Center – taccone@unicef.org  
  • Hira Hafeez-Ur-Rehman, Innovation Specialist, Office of Innovations, UNICEF New York  - hhafeezurrehman@unicef.org  
  • Fatou Wurie, Emergency Specialist, U-Report, UNICEF New York - fwurie@unicef.org