Written by Guillaume Michels and UNICEF Innovation with contributions from:
Sabine I. Michiels, UNICEF Benin, Niko Manos Wieland, UNICEF Angola, & Htet Htet Oo, UNICEF Myanmar.
In a world where crises and conflicts are increasing in frequency, severity, and duration, humanitarian work must help lay the foundation for the long-term resilience of communities and families – by strengthening health and protection systems, providing families with cash transfers to manage in crises, and providing learning and support for children caught up in emergencies.
In times of emergency, a key focus of UNICEF is on community engagement and accountability to affected people and communities — including through communication for development, and platforms for adolescent and youth participation like the Internet of Good Things.
Internet of Good Things (IoGT) is supporting emergency work across all regions where UNICEF operates. Here are a few examples of how UNICEF country offices around the world have worked to provide information around conflicts, natural disasters, and epidemics.
Internet of Good Things was used in 2017 to provide information post-conflict on landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War in Myanmar.
In at least nine States and Regions of Myanmar, landmines and Explosive Remnant of War (ERW) are left behind from armed conflict or placed intentionally, continuing to cause harm to vulnerable populations, especially children and women.
In 2017, at least eight children lost their lives and more than 38 were severely injured from landmines and ERW. Over the past two years, there has been a new victim of landmines, on average, every three days. One out of every three victims is a child.
Since May 2016, Internet of Good Things has supported the Myanmar country office to raise awareness around this issue. As part of their communication strategy, UNICEF Myanmar’s communication team created a site (in Burmese and English) called “Mine action”, designed to bring awareness about the danger of landmines and other ERW.
The site includes a list of states and townships where landmines can be found and provide quality information, listing myths and false information about landmines. Since June 2016 – the Myanmar IoGT site has been accessed by 1.7 million users. See the “Mine Action” IoGT site here.
UNICEF Angola using IoGT to provide actionable information on Yellow Fever and Cholera
In Angola, UNICEF is working in close collaboration with the Government of Angola to support the sector response to drought, floods, and diseases (Cholera and mosquito-transmitted diseases such as Yellow Fever, Malaria, Dengue, and Zika).
Between October 2016 and March 2017, UNICEF Angola ran a Facebook ad campaign to promote good health practices by driving people to their Internet of Good Things website focusing on Yellow fever and Cholera. UNICEF Angola was able to have their ads reach more than 1.3 million people, and point them to IoGT content showing relevant Health and Emergency information and tips on how to help contain the epidemics. You can access their messages here.
Mobile surveys were used on IoGT Angola to get feedback from users. 93% of users reported learning new information and 63% reported taking action after having read IoGT Emergency information. 43% reported sharing the information with someone in their family or community.
Internet of Good Things helping emergency response scale-up to prevent the spread of Lassa fever
In Early 2016, an outbreak of deadly Lassa Fever was spreading fast in Benin. UNICEF and WHO were scaling up an emergency response to help prevent further spread of the disease. On February 10, 2016, there had already been four confirmed and 52 suspected cases, and 17 people had died – two of them, health workers.
To help prevent further spread of Lassa Fever, UNICEF was looking for solutions to promote essential messages — and to complement more conventional communication channels such as national and local media.
- UNICEF Benin developed key messages on how to recognize symptoms of Lassa fever, preventive measures, and information about case reporting and services available.
- These messages were uploaded on the local Internet of Good Things Content Management System and published on the mobile IoGT Benin website.
- Through private partnerships, access to these websites were made free on MTN Benin and Moov networks, the largest and second largest Mobile network operators in the country.
- UNICEF Benin integrated IoGT as part of a comprehensive multi-channel emergency communication strategy. UNICEF used social mobilisation to communicate with households in affected areas directly, national and community radios to broadcast key prevention messages, and distributed IEC materials through social mobilizers on the ground.
Between 2016 and 2017, more than 1.3 million people accessed Internet of Good Things Benin embedding life-saving information on Lassa fever.
What does the future hold?
IoGT mobile sites have been accessed by 10.7 million users in 2017 and by more than 25 million since IoGT launched in 2015. But more needs to be done to promote and support equitable access to health services — especially for mobile and remote populations, minorities and marginalized groups, migrants, and those living in informal urban settlements.
UNICEF Innovation continues to seek forward-looking partners to increase the reach of its messages and the promotion of healthy behaviours. Mobile network operators, satellites, routers or mobile phone manufacturers, mobile browsers, youth or women’s groups, frontline workers and influential media can help the distribution and promotion of key messages so that everyone can gain access to locally relevant information and help save more children.