When buzz words ring true

The U-Report On The Move experience in Colombia

By Vicky Maskell, U-Report On The Move Coordinator
© Vicky Maskell
Vicky Maskell
25 July 2019

Inter-agency. Multi-sectoral. Multi-country. Co-creation. Human-centred design. Buzz words that fly around the international development arena, but when do we actually put them into practice? And do we ever actually manage to fit all the buzz-words effectively and realistically into one succinct real-life project?

The answer, yes, sometimes we actually do.

Last week we held the first co-creation workshop for U-Report On The Move in Bogota, one of the projects being implemented as part of the interagency response for those leaving Venezuela, coordinated through the R4V (Response for Venezuelans) platform. There were 12 different organisations in the room, including UN agencies, civil society, local NGOs and technology partners representing four different countries, but even more importantly than that, we were joined by a group of Venezuelan migrant and refugees residing in Bogotá, to ensure they helped us shape what we were designing.

Our aim was to see how U-Report, a tool that helps amplify the voice of youth, that provides access to relevant and accurate information, a feedback and complaints mechanisms and real-time monitoring, can be developed to support the needs of the refugee and migrant community in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a specific emphasis on Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Which bits of the tool do we want to focus on? What are the information and feedback needs that our Venezuelan friends explained to us that where most important? How can this fit in to what already exists, so we strengthen current activity, rather than duplicating? What should we actually call the project on the ground? Is this the tool that can bring in robust, transparent youth and adolescent participation into the response?

To do this we got our hands dirty (well, as dirty as they can get in the confines of a meeting room). We drew, we talked, we listened. We created prototypes out of cardboard boxes, paper, string and coloured cards. We then tested these prototypes, and improved on them, taking on board the opinions and thoughts of our key beneficiary groups. Over the next two days we built and enhanced our ideas, delving deeper into the opportunities and threats highlighted by each partner in the room.

Each individual’s opinion had an equal weight, enabling us to understand where the tool should focus and be prioritised, and if and where, at this moment, existing tools are better placed to deliver on certain needs. This is just the beginning of the project, and more conversations, more prototyping, more development of ideas and testing of them needs to take place before we launch, but we’ll be doing that together, as one coherent group of partners looking to support those who have left Venezuela.

© Vicky Maskell
Vicky Maskell
All participants from the U-Report On The Move workshop.

And it was a fantastic opportunity to have our main beneficiary group as a central part of what we were doing, as without them we’d be developing a tool in a void, simply assuming that we’re implementing what is needed. Perhaps it is summed up best by Venezuelan refugee Geanna, who said:

‘It’s heart-warming to see that there’s an international community that actually cares about what is happening to us Venezuelans, and who wants to listen to us to provide what we need.’

The task is far from over, and we’ll be throwing more buzz-words around left, right and centre as we implement U-Report On The Move to support those who have left Venezuela – but if we make sure that we act on those words, we’ll be sure to implement something that can genuinely ensure young migrant and refugees are able to participate in decisions that affect their lives, whilst accessing relevant information to keep them safe, happy and protected.


For agencies and partners that would like to know more about the project, and how they can be involved, please contact Humberto Jaime, Regional Chair of CwC/C4D Group, R4V Platform: hjaime@unicef.org

This project would not be possible without the generous donation from UNICEF US Fund and UNHCR Fund