UNICEF has partnered with telecom company, Airtel, to provide its open source RapidPro suite of apps to Airtel customers for free across 17 African countries, including Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Originally launched in September 2014, RapidPro was designed by UNICEF’s global Innovations Labs in collaboration with Rwandan software development firm, Nyuruka, to help governments deliver real-time information about health and education, as well as to connect communities to lifesaving services.

“RapidPro gives governments and development professionals new tools they can customise to connect citizens and critical services – mainstreaming innovation and making it work for the most disadvantaged children,” said Director of UNICEF’s global Innovation Center based in Nairobi, and former UNICEF Representative to Uganda, Dr Sharad Sapra.

RapidPro can assist in research initiatives by making data related to interactions on the platform available in Excel for analysis. The platform also allows organisations to create personalised messages based on information collected from users to help increase response rates.

Current apps on the platform include mHero, which was deployed in West Africa to help tackle the Ebola crisis; U-Report, which is being used in Zambia to link people to the resources of the National AIDS Council; EduTrac, which tracks education indicators to help in decision-making; and Project Mwana, which is being used in Zambia to deliver HIV test results. RapidFTR, an Android forms-based data collection app, will also soon be added to the platform.

All of the RapidPro applications are produced by UNICEF in partnership with universities and software creators in response to the experience of humanitarian workers on the ground on the bottlenecks which hamper aid delivery. The applications are constantly updated as new challenges emerge.

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