UNICEF representatives introduced a free social messaging tool called U-REPORT PNG that allows anyone from any community to comment on issues affecting them.

The U-REPORT was presented at a recent Regional Youth Conference, through the U-Report, UNICEF is looking to grasp the expansion of mobile phones in PNG to empower young people to speak out on issues that matter to them and encourage citizen-led development and create positive change.

The world has been taken over by a digital technology where mobile phones are rapidly expanding and in a country like PNG this provides a greater opportunity for people to connect with each other, and for young people in particular to be more engaged in the decisions and processes that affect them.

U-Report relies on volunteer community members to serve as ‘U-Reporters’ in giving feedback on polls and surveys, and report issues in their communities.

These U-Report responses are then collected and shared back to the community and with decision makers to strengthen accountability and influence social change, providing a two-way avenue of engagement.

A UNICEF representative explained to the youths that U-REPORT was a messaging platform that could be used as dialogue between youth and decision makers like the government, to amplify young people’s voices, to be able to consult with thousands of young people of their thoughts, collecting information in real time, show evidence of UNICEF programs and act as an entry point for youths active citizenship.

How U-REPORT works is when a U-REPORT Team like UNICEF sends polls to a U-REPORTER through SMS, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The U-REPORTER registers views and then can respond to polls and the final poll results are displayed on the U-REPORT PNG website.

UNICEF and other agencies utilize the poll results via U-REPORT for advocacy in the hope of expanding this service. 

U-REPORT data is used to ensure that youth voices are taken into account. UNICEF say they want to work with the government, UN agencies and youth organisations and private companies.

U-Report has six channels in SMS, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter, Telegram and Viber and has 22 million U-Reporters in the world and 7 countries using the platform.

Carol Kidu