Last October, UNICEF West Africa wrote up a nice briefing note on mobile tech and its relevance in child protection programming. You can download it here.
According to the document, pulled together by Mirkka Mattila, ‘This is an area of rapid innovation and new applications are being developed all the time. Telecommunications is one of the fastest growing sectors in Africa and the relevance and reach of mobile technologies for development and humanitarian work is only going to increase over the coming years. Many technical, legal and security aspects of these new technologies remain to be fully addressed and worked out. The dependence on technology, network coverage and electricity supply also mean that mobile technologies cannot be used everywhere.’
The paper includes examples on the use of mobile technologies for:
- gathering and transmitting data by child protection service providers; including surveys, rapid assessments, case management, family tracing and reunification of separated children, and birth registration
- self-protection and complaints mechanisms; such as child helplines, violence reporting and community mapping for violence prevention
- transmitting information and money via mobile; eg, SMS campaigns and cash transfers.
It pulls out challenges and advantages of the different use cases and offers some guiding questions to assist in the selection of the most appropriate applications, such as:
- Is there a need to create new applications or can existing solutions be used?
- What are the characteristics of the user group and the environment (urban – rural, existing networks and coverage etc.)?
- What technical expertise is required for installing and maintaining the system?
- How well will investments in equipment and capacity meet the needs, expected impact, benefits and outcomes in terms of results delivery?
- What are the potential partnerships for sustainable capacity-building and service delivery? What are the roles of public and private service providers?
- What are the financial resources needed in the short, medium and long-term to establish and maintain the system?
The document ends with some arguments and counter arguments around the use of mobiles in child protection work. It’s nice to see this paper as there is not a whole lot of research and/or documentation on use of mobiles and ICTs specifically in child protection work.
Other child protection resources/posts on Wait… What?: