Young innovators from Niger engaged in the battle against Covid-19 an interactive web platform designed by Niger’s youth to help communities get information, share concerns and report alerts of Covid-19.

By Dorina Andreev-jitaru
UNICEF Niger/Islamane
09 April 2020

Niamey (Niger), April 9, 2020 - “We want our country free of Covid-19 and we know we can help” – these were the words of the winning teams of the Niger National Hackathon Hack4Youth, supported by UNICEF. Organized in 2019, the Hackathon aimed to encourage young innovators to develop solutions for digital youth engagement.

Covid-19 brings to Niger a lot of challenges: access to information for most vulnerable, engagement of all and everyone, lack of alerting mechanisms. To address these, young innovators worked day and night to launch the youth engagement platform

“Young people represent almost two-thirds of Niger population and if at least one young person per village will be engaged in fighting Covid-19, 20,000 girls and boys will spread the word about protection measures, symptoms, collecting in the same time alert cases to be reported to the health system. For our youth engagement platform we have chosen the name Muryar Matassa (Voice of Youth in Hausa) and, after several weeks of hard work, we are ready to launch it”, Jamilou Idi Saadou, one of the members of the innovation team, said.

The web platform and its mobile application will be used by young people to get information, share concerns and report alerts of Covid-19.

“As young people, we have a social responsibility to protect those at risk, but also to help health authorities to collect information about potential cases, so that they can act accordingly. An innovation for the country and the region, Muryar Matassa is needed now more than ever and our whole team is ready to support its activities” said Adama Boubacar, a young innovator involved in the development and maintenance of the platform.

Even in a country like Niger, with a low internet penetration, young people are more and more engaged in digital activities, being present on social networks and mediating the access to useful information for their parents and grandparents.

“Young people have a great force in Niger, they are bringing change and progress and they are inspiring others for good deeds. UNICEF has dedicated a whole pillar in its strategy to involve youth and encourage them to become models and change multipliers in their communities and in the society. I trust their enthusiasm and innovation. Muryar Matassa will put young people in the center of social mobilization efforts to fight Covid-19”, mentions Dr. Felicite Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger.

The Covid-19, caused by novel coronavirus, has so far claimed over 90,000 lives worldwide. In Niger, eleven people died of the disease and 342 people have been tested positive as of April 9.

UNICEF is actively taking steps to provide accurate information about the virus and working with our partners to address the spread of the virus. UNICEF is leading on preventative actions in communities across the country with risk communication and community engagement, providing handwashing supplies, hygiene and medical kits, strengthening health system capacities and monitoring the impact of the outbreak to support continuity of care, education and social services. UNICEF is also working to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on protection for children and women.