November 27, 2013

ARTICLES: UNICEF Uganda's U-report: giving young people a voice

An innovative mobile-based application is enabling Uganda's young people to offer up their views on everything from economic empowerment to immunisation

When UNICEF Uganda launched the innovative "U-report" tool in May 2011, the idea was to harness both the high level of connectivity and the proliferation of mobile phones in the country to give young people a voice. It was – and still is – an established fact that Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with more than 55% of its people aged zero -18 years. On the other hand, access to mobile phones was estimated at 48%, which meant that creating a mobile-based application to amplify youth voices and empower them to speak out on issues affecting them was realistic.

UNICEF subsequently worked with telecoms providers and other partners to create U-report, a free SMS-based platform through which young Ugandans can speak out on what is happening in their communities across the country, and work together with other community leaders for positive change. Young people simply text the word "JOIN" to the toll-free 8500 short code and become U-reporters after answering a few prompted questions. U-report has grown fast in its first two years, with just under 250,000 young people currently registered and active on the network.

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