The partnership between the UK government, the GSMA Foundation, and the GSMA (which represents mobile operators worldwide) is essentially the global mobile industry pledging to take a dedicated part in providing life-enhancing services to millions of people in poverty.
This is a poverty-busting milestone.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) will provide financial support to the partnership to support development and dissemination of new technologies that will improve response to natural disasters, help women obtain financial services and boost access to safe water and clean energy across the developing world.
This is a seminal moment in the mission to succeed in securing the #GlobalGoals by 2030. Read on for the reasons why.
A Guardian article written by Jean-Martin Bauer, senior analyst for the World Food Programme recently stated:
“One of the biggest challenges for the humanitarian community when disaster strikes is how to colour in blank spaces on maps of the affected country or region. To do our jobs well, we need to know who has been affected, what is happening, and what people need. And we need to know fast.”
Information is critical to the implementation of life-saving operations. Yet all too often disaster response teams struggle to collect information because of communication difficulties with people in difficult to reach areas. As Bauer puts it: “People in no-go areas … are not just suffering, they are suffering in silence.”
Mobile technology can help break this silence. By providing those in disaster hot-spots with the means to communicate their situations in real-time, response teams are given immediate information from the front-line.
But mobile technology is not only useful in an emergency. There are many ways that it can support the mission to end global poverty, addressing each and every one of the Global Goals, on a day-to-day basis.
A fundamental one for ONE is its role in the data revolution. As our Poverty is Sexist report points out quite clearly – we cannot help women or monitor developments and efforts to empower them if they are denied a voice. Giving them the means to be heard and accounted for allows supportive activities to be monitored and tailored so that results are forthcoming and development aid is spent wisely. This is vital if we want to achieve Global Goal # 5 – Gender Equality in the allotted 15 years.
Here are two examples from case studies commissioned by the GSMA that show how inequality is being tackled with the support of mobile services:
- Mobile birth registrations in Uganda
Proof of identity is an essential prerequisite for gaining access to basic services, including enrolling in education, health care services, or even claiming rights to inheritance or obtaining legal protection in courts of law. Yet in some countries, as few as 21% of children are registered at birth, often due to poor communications infrastructure between rural villages and national birth registration offices. In Uganda, Mobile Vital Records System (VRS) is enabling village registration agents to send birth registration details of newborns via mobile phones through to local hospitals connected to a 3G web-based application. This enables both mother and child access to support, education and health-care services.
- Tackling gender-based violence in Madagascar
Launched in 2010, 3-2-1 is a free, on-demand voice and text-based information service that has attracted over 3 million subscribers. It has provided the first ever on-demand mobile gender information service for both men and women in Madagascar, where gender-based violence is a significant issue. It has helped facilitate first-time SIM ownership for women, and 93.1% of users reported an increase in decision-making within their household as a result of accessing 3-2-1’s educational information on human rights and gender equality.
GSMA have committed to addressing and reducing the mobile gender gap by launching the Connected Women Collective Initiative, which aims to provide women with improved access to mobile money and mobile internet. GSMA have also identified ways of addressing mobile savings and insurance support for women and mobile maternal health services in the developing world. And this is just evidence for Global Goal 5!
In fact, GSMA have provided examples of ways the mobile industry can help support each one of the Global Goals.
ONE’s Executive Director and Co-Founder, Jamie Drummond has said of the partnership:
“GSMA’s recognition of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development is a boon to the fight against extreme poverty. Through those handy mobile devices we can accelerate efforts to ensure that once marginalised young people around the world become a movement of empowered local scorekeepers, keeping check that their leaders are meeting these ambitious targets. That’s pretty m-Powerful. Mats Granyrd and the GSMA have engineered sector-wide support – a global industry first for the new Global Goals. We hope that others now quickly follow their lead.”