UNICEF India and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) co-organized the state consultation “Mobile Phones: A Tool for Social & Behaviour Change” on 10th April,2015 at Hotel Royale De Casa, Guwahati, Assam.The consultation was the fifth and last consultation in the series of the state-level consultations under the ambit of ‘Mobile Phone as a Tool for Social & Behaviour Change.” The consultation aimed at exploring the various projects where women, adolescent girls and youth have used mobiles effectively in areas of health, education, sanitation, environment and monitoring and training of frontline workers.
Mr Ajit Kumar Sudke from UNICEF, Assam welcomed the participants and representatives from the Government, Public sector departments, local government bodies, telecom players and civil society groups. Mr. Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation presented an insightful view of the potential usage of the mobile telephony for development. He substantiated his observations and views with data on the subscribers, the users and the frontline workers. He also informed how various mobile features SD Card, audio visual, IVRS, and even missed calls etc. that can be put to use for developmental interventions, and emphasized on the importance of mobile phone and its capacity to reach masses..
More than 60 participants representing various departments of Government of Assam and mobile practitioners participated in the one-day consultation. After the inaugural the participants were divided into four groups – Health & Nutrition; Education; Child Protection, Water & Sanitation. Each group had one case-study presenters and stakeholders from respective departments as well as other participants. Each case presenter explained their example of using mobile phones. After the case-presentations, the group discussed the case-studies and deliberated on a few questions. Later one leader from every group came and presented their work.
There was a discussion on how content can be modified or customized in form of SMS. The session also discussed more on the possibilities of localization of content. Mr Amitabh Singhal, Board Member PIR, elaborated on the importance and seriousness of mobile content and the strength of effective messaging.
Ms. Veena Kumari from UNICEF, Assam thanked everyone for their participation. She stated that the deliberations over days have provided some directions as to how we can integrate use of mobile / ICT in Guwahati to enhance the outcomes of development programmes. The discussions also led to some specific action points which UNICEF will follow through in collaboration with the governments, DEF and concerned partners.