citizen reports

uReport: Citizen Feedback via SMS in Uganda

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 28, 2011
uReport: Citizen Feedback via SMS in Uganda data sheet 3481 Views

For aid organizations, knowing what local communities and beneficiaries want and need is the key to running successful, sustainable programs. In Uganda, UNICEF is using mobile phones and broadcast media to get direct feedback from Ugandans on everything from medication access to water sanitation. The project, called uReport, allows users to sign up via a toll-free shortcode for regular SMS-based polls and messages. Citizen responses are used both in weekly radio talk shows to create discussion on community issues, and shared among UNICEF and other aid organizations to provide a better picture of how services work across Uganda.
Sean Blaschke, a Technology for Development specialist at UNICEF Uganda, explains that uReport gathers information from participants and informs citizens of their rights and available services. Recent polls have included questions about school dropouts, water point availability, mosquito net usage, and youth employment, all collected via SMS polls.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The project is three-fold:

  • To collect feedback and information directly from beneficiaries of projects in Uganda
  • To create a system to directly communicate with and push messages to uReport members
  • To allow beneficiaries to share their views on a number of different topics
Brief description of the project: 

uReport is a UNICEF project in Uganda that sends SMS polls and messages to subscribers in order to gather feedback about communities across Uganda. The information is then used in broadcast and print media to inform citizens about their rights and available services, while also acting as a means of detecting vulnerabilities in communities.

Target audience: 

The target audience is youth in Uganda who want to share information about their communities and start discussions at a community level about available services and programs.

Detailed Information
Mobile Tools Used: 
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

The project has seen a huge number of signups (more than 28,000 registered users), and reasonably high response rates (ranging between 18% and 30%). UNICEF also found that the program is mutually beneficial between them and their partner organizations, as partner organizations can use the SMS system to directly target their members, while UNICEF can use the information collected in the polls to get a clearer picture of how services and systems are working in individual communities.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Challenges include:

  • Finding ways to keep uReporters interested in the project so that they answer the polls (UNICEF is currently testing out multiple incentive programs to see how they affect response rates)
  • Finding a balance between the one-to-one contact of mobile communications and the need to share information with a large number of people (partnerships were built with eight local radio stations in different districts so that information could be broadcast regularly to non-mobile owners)