U-REPORTERS. Andrew Morris (right), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund Philippines-Mindanao chief of field office, explains how to use of the U-Report application to a youth representative during the launching of the online application (inset) in Shariff Kabunsuan Complex, the administrative seat of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato City on Thursday (July 11, 2019). Some 300 Bangsamoro youth participated in the program launching, the first-ever in the country. (Photo by PNA Cotabato)

COTABATO CITY — The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) launched here a free mobile phone messaging tool that encourages the youth to be the voice of their communities.

U-Report is a social messaging tool and data collection system developed by Unicef, which the international body says is intended to improve “citizen engagement, inform leaders, and foster positive change.”  It uses polls and alerts, collects real-time responses, and allows online interactions and discussions on various topics ranging from employment to discrimination and peace-building.  The data and insights collected are shared with the communities and policy makers to help them make better policy decisions that affect the youth.

Interested users can become a U-Reporter by logging on to their Facebook accounts, search for the U-Report Philippines page, open the messenger app and click join. Once in, U-Reporters can start participating in the polls and send reports.  

Andrew Morris, Unicef Philippines chief of field office for Mindanao, said during the launching that U-Report was the Unicef’s response to the dreams and aspirations of the Bangsamoro youth.

He said Unicef chose the BARMM to launch the app in the country to give the youth of the autonomous region the “opportunity to make their views known in a much more powerful way area of choice”

 “For Unicef, we know that the passion, the ideas, and innovations of young people can transform the Bangsamoro’s future. They need to be involved, consulted, empowered, and be equipped,” Morris said. (Rommel F. Lopez)