A new app has been launched in South Sudan which it is hoped will help aid workers reunite thousands of children with their families after they were separated during the South Sudan war. The app was developed by the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) and the charity Save the Children to allow the hundreds of field workers tracing families in South Sudan to share information on their phones or tablets.
The app contains a database of child protection cases, which frontline caseworkers can update and monitor in real time, removing the need for paper-based work while in the field.
“Caseworkers are the backbone of everything we do. They are the protectors of children at the worst end of a conflict or disaster – those who have been abused, exploited, lost their parents, or have seen things that no child should see. Often, they walk for hours and hours under the scorching sun, wade through mud, travel for days on bumpy dirt roads to knock on doors and make sure children are safe. They are in every corner of South Sudan, yet until now have found it difficult to communicate with other caseworkers on the other side of the country. With this new app, we’re bringing their work into the 21st century,” said Rama Hansraj, Save the Children’s Country Director in South Sudan.
Tech for good
When we typically talk of apps it's generally not often we talk about apps that are primarily developed to help in humanitarian emergency situations. Most times we talk of apps that are built purely for the purpose of amassing as many users as possible with the purpose of making a profit. However, in countries such as South Sudan where there has been for for half a decade, civic technology can play an important role.
The newly launched app allows for photos to be taken as well the recording of audio. This, according to UNICEF, will make it much easier for caseworkers to trace families and reunite children with their parents.
With Internet connectivity being extremely poor across South Sudan, the app is designed to be downloaded and then synced at the beginning and end of the day. The app also works across different agencies, linking up case managers across the country and ensuring a continuity of support for each child registered in the system.
The app and online system is being launched along with the first ever case management handbook for caseworkers, which gives step by step guidance for field workers how to manage vulnerable cases, including how to speak with children to reduce trauma, how to assess child and family data, and the steps to follow to ensure high-risk children get the specialised supports they need to survive and recover.
“The handbook is the first of its kind and has the power to change children’s lives. Caseworkers are often on their own in some of the most remote and dangerous areas in South Sudan. With the book, which is practical and easy to use, they always have a mentor in their hands, helping them provide essential, timely and often life-saving help to some of the most vulnerable children in South Sudan,” said Andrea Suley, UNICEF South Sudan Deputy Representative.