U-Report Nigeria started using RapidPro in April 2014. The first message went out on 30th April to 221 users associated with Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps. In less than two years, U-Report in Nigeria has grown exponentially to over 1.2 million U-Reporters. Since its inception, over 116 million messages from 120 polls and alerts have been sent and received. Topics include health, education, water and sanitation, emergencies and other areas of community interest like the World Cup, African Cup of Nations, and the 2015 Nigeria elections.
U-Report and Outbreaks
U-Report has been instrumental in the management of outbreaks in the country. A small team of two people personally responded to over 800 unsolicited questions sent in by U-Reporters. These questions included:
Does bitter koola heal Ebola?
Can Ebola be spread through eye contact?
Is it airborne?
We have bats in our church what should we do?
Can Ebola be transmitted by mosquitoes?
Working with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the Ministry of Health, these questions were answered with accurate information to address the myths and misconceptions surrounding Ebola.
With the current spread of Lassa fever in about 10 states in Nigeria, 2 alerts on disease signs and symptoms have already gone out and a third is planned to address prevention methods. U-Report Nigeria also uses a partners page so that a bigger team of data clerks and language translators can look closely at incoming messages and use an FAQ from the Ministry of Health to respond directly to U-Reporter’s questions.
U-Reporters can have now have the right information in real-time.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is using the platform to gather information about immunization stock and cold chain equipment functionality at health facilities in 3 states: Nasarawa, FCT, and Niger. About 1000 health workers are asked simple questions about whether there are sufficient vaccines in stock to last through the next week and whether the refrigerators used to store the vaccines to keep them safe and effective are running at the correct temperatures. State logistics working groups are using this information to respond to equipment breakdowns and vaccine stock outs.
By the end of 2017, the Federal Government of Nigeria would like to have at least 10,000 functional Primary Health Care facilities. RapidPro surveyor (an Android app used for offline data collection) will be used to monitor and implement the Government of Nigeria’s priority to have 1 PHC facility per ward.
Nigeria is the first country to reach over a million U-Reporters. When planning for scale, consider limitations from your aggregator (if you use one). For example, the system sent out 20,000 messages to U-Reporters in less than an hour during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. But during this Lassa Fever outbreak, the 1.2 million messages took about 5 hours to clear the queue. With the great number of U-Reporters in Nigeria, one message per day works better than the multiple messages per day that were once sent when U-Report in Nigeria was much smaller.
UNICEF Nigeria has seen the benefit of having a platform where communication flows are structured so that program officers and data analysts alike can understand the interactions and corresponding data. With the right people supporting the system, U-Reporters can quickly get responses to unsolicited questions from the interactive partner dashboard. The journey with RapidPro hasn’t always been a smooth road, but the UNICEF Nigeria team remains committed to real-time data for youth engagement and programme monitoring.