馃嚢馃嚟 Early Warning System, Cambodia

About the Early Warning System

Watch it in action

Cambodia is a country consistently ranked as one of the most vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters.

In order to deliver timely and potentially lifesaving information to people in disaster prone areas, an Early Warning System (EWS) was conceived by the organization, People In Need (PIN) .

People in Need realized that the EWS needs to be accessible to all Cambodians, regardless of literacy and Internet connectivity issues. They decided to look into a solution which uses voice based messaging for alerts and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) for registration.

With help from the Royal Cambodian Government, the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) and the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), it was regulated that the Early Warning System must be provided free of charge by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Cambodia.

With the pieces of the puzzle coming together the problems that still remained were:

  1. How to connect to the MNOs for user registration?
  2. How to send out automated alerts to people at risk in the event of an emergency?

The major mobile network operators in Cambodia each provided a SIP connection, but lacked the technology that People In Need required to handle user registrations and send out automated flood alerts.

Somleng SCFM is an open source contact center platform and call flow manager designed for Somleng and Twilio. Somleng SCFM comes complete with its own REST API for managing contacts, callouts and phone calls and can be configured to send out alerts and listen for inbound calls through Somleng which provides an open source implementation of Twilio's REST API.

Unlike Twilio, Somleng gives you full control over where and how inbound and outbound calls are routed from/to. Somleng is configured to send out alerts and listen for inbound calls via SIP connections provided by the local mobile network operators.

To summarize the technology:

  1. Citizens register for the Early Warning System by calling a short code and answering the prompts to select their address. The call is first received by a local mobile network operator then forwarded to Somleng which handles the IVR.
  2. Flood sensors which detect water level heights, trigger alerts and callouts via Somleng SCFM.
  3. Somleng SCFM sends voice alerts through Somleng to the local mobile network operators.

馃嚫馃嚧 Cash Assistance Programme, Somalia

In Somalia returnee households from Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya and vulnerable households in Bay and Bakool received emergency unconditional cash-based transfer assistance package to help them meet their needs during the current drought period.

In order to share information and get feedback about the program, a voice-based messaging solution was proposed. In the proposal voice messages and surveys would be recorded in the Somali language and delivered to the household head by mobile phone calls.

The price for terminating a call through Twilio in Somalia is $0.7680 per minute . To date more than 75.8 K minutes worth of calls have been sent out which would equate to $58,238.98 on Twilio.

In order to reduce costs and promote local businesses, Africa's Voices Foundation in conjunction with UNICEF Somalia partnered with Hormuud , a local MNO in Somalia. In comparison, Hormuud's pricing is between $0.04 and $0.07 per minute.

Somleng SCFM was again used in this project to provide Africa's Voices Foundation with a dashboard for scheduling callouts and managing recipients. Automated voice messages were sent to beneficiaries via Somleng through Hormuud.

馃嚞馃嚬 Promoting behavior change for the prevention of childhood malnutrition with mobile phone technology

Originally authored by Estuardo Pineda, T4D Officer, UNICEF Guatemala. Modified for spelling and clarity.

Context

In Guatemala, 5 out of 10 children under six years old suffer from chronic child malnutrition. Early childhood, is the greatest window of opportunity to support the development of children's brains, bodies, and abilities through comprehensive interventions. Additionally, Guatemala is a multicultural and multilingual country, with 22 languages, including the Mayan, Spanish, Xinka and Garifuna. The use of the Spanish language has predominated in healthcare services, making it difficult for Mayan speaking population throughout the country to access public services every day.

With the objective of improving the nutritional conditions of children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, UNICEF Guatemala is coordinating with Government institutions at national, departmental and municipal level the implementation of comprehensive strategy to address stunting in Huehuetenango, Quich茅, Chiquimula and Alta Verapaz.

Challenges

Given the current situation of COVID-19, there are actions that must be adapted to the new scenario, including the use of innovative solutions to reach the population through virtual platforms. The use mobile technology as a catalyst tool can accelerate the achievement of nutritional results for Guatemalan children.

Solution

Coraz贸n contento is a free-volunteer subscription mobile service that seeks to promote and strength early childhood development through a comprehensive intervention, with flexible models that take into account cultural differences and the reality of the country. Using text messages (SMS), social media, as well as voice messages (IVR) to provide an integrated package of information about: health, hygiene, sanitation, maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, complementary feeding and parenting guidelines directed delivered to caregivers (mothers, fathers) of children, as well as pregnant and lactating women and primary health care workers in seven native languages (Q始eqchi始, Poqomchi始, Ch始orti始, Q始anjob始al, Chuj, Akateko and Ixil).

To this day, UNICEF Guatemala has achieved:

  • An alliance between the Ministry of Health and the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala to aligned the service with the National Crusade for Nutrition.
  • The development of 170 integral messages translated to seven native languages.
  • More than 6,000 mothers and pregnant women from Quich茅 and Alta Verapz subscribed to the service.
  • Endorsement from the Ministry of Health.

Technology

RapidPro is an open source software platform that allows for building and scaling mobile-based applications from anywhere in the world. RapidPro is designed to send personalized messages with responses analyzed in real-time.

Somleng is an open source cloud communications platform which can be used to deliver IVR messages through local mobile network operators.

Voice Messages are recorded into RapidPro and delivered to the beneficiary's phone via Somleng. Together RapidPro and Somleng are powering the way governments and development partners connect, engage and collaborate directly with the most important - and often most marginalized - voices in their communities.

馃嚥馃嚱 Powering Cloud Communications, Mexico

In Mexico, Somleng is powering C3ntro Telecom's Cloud Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS).

Somleng provides an open source, white-labeled, CPaaS solution for all types of carriers e.g. telecom companies, mobile network operators and aggregators.

C3ntro Telecom uses Somleng to provide their own custom branded CPaaS solution to their customers. Their customers can enjoy the power of programmable voice and SMS through Somleng's open source implementation of Twilio's REST API, while C3ntro keeps their branding.

By partnering with Somleng, C3ntro can offer a full-stack solution to their customers and therefore compete directly with the big tech providers such as Twilio and Vonage.

With feedback from C3ntro we have developed Somleng with an offering for Carriers, which includes a Carrier Dashboard and API.

For more info please checkout our Carrier Documentation .

馃嚳馃嚥 Mama Info, Zambia

Originally authored by Piotr Sasin, Country Director, People in Need Zambia. Edited for spelling and clarity. Emergency Preparedness & Response, People in Need Zambia

Watch it in action

Introduction

People in Need (PIN)'s mHealth project, implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MoH) Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited (ZAMTEL) and powered by Somleng, is an innovative and one-of-a-kind intervention in Zambia.

The project uses voice recorded messages to overcome illiteracy barriers and to improve maternal and child health and nutrition outcomes, influence attitudes and enhance knowledge and skills of women about the importance of key health and nutrition behaviors. The messages were incorporated into dialogues performed by a local drama group that created culturally appropriate characters to provide an educative, engaging and entertaining service, effective at changing people's behaviors. These dialogues were designed typically around specific topics such as health, nutrition or hygiene. The set contains key messages related to maternal health and nutrition as well as nutrition and health of children aged 0-6 and 7-24 months.

The messages were designed to cover the most important behaviors in order to provide timely information that supports the mother to provide the best possible start to their child's life during the first 1000 days most critical days (from the inception until the child is 2 years old). The pilot project targeted 100 women in Mongu and Nalolo districts in Western Zambia and aimed to prove that the concept is relevant and effective in the Zambian context.

How it works

  1. The messages are designed, consulted and approved by PIN and MoH.
  2. The messages are translated to the local language, performed and recorded by a drama group at a radio station or recording studio.
  3. PIN engages health staff from the health facilities the self-registration of women.
  4. The beneficiaries receive the voice messages as phone calls.
  5. PIN performs a study and collects endline data to measure impact of the intervention.

Results

  • At endline, 89% of target women were aware that the recommended birth spacing is 2-3 years compared to 81% at baseline.
  • Furthermore, after they received the voice-recorded messages, 99% of women were aware of exclusive breastfeeding and its significance compared to 81% before the intervention.
  • After they received the mHealth service, 72% of women were aware of the recommended length of breastfeeding (12-23 months) compared to only 62% at baseline.
  • At endline, 88% of women were practicing vitamin A supplementation compared to 80% before the start of the intervention.
  • Moreover, 74% of women were taking pregnancy supplements every day at endline compared to only 60% at baseline.

Conclusion

The study found that the mHealth intervention has had a significant impact on knowledge, attitudes and practices of women with regards to maternal and infant nutrition and health. The level of satisfaction suggests that the service fills an important gap, is effective at changing behaviors and is highly relevant in the Zambian context. The results suggest that the intervention contributed to improved maternal and child health outcomes and led to changes in key nutrition behaviors. With several upgrades and improvements, which are currently underway, the project indicators may improve further.

More info about the Mama Info health service can be found on their website https://www.mamainfo.org .

馃嚦馃嚨Blockchain based cash distribution pilot, Nepal

Tokenized aid distribution platform to support vulnerable communities, Nepal

Background

In January 2023, UNICEF Nepal launched a blockchain pilot to support 1,500 vulnerable households with cash distribution in the Madhesh province, Nepal . The cash distribution supports landless families, daily wagers and families with disabilities, with children under the age of five. The pilot uses an open-source blockchain based solution called, Rehat - developed by Rumsan , a UNICEF Venture Fund company, from Nepal.

Collaboration

This pilot sees a collaboration of two UNICEF Venture Fund portfolio companies, Rumsan and Somleng . Rahat is using Somleng's Carrier Bypass IVR feature . to support beneficiaries in the cash distribution pilot with information and later to receive feedback from the beneficiaries directly. This feature was developed by Somleng as part of the 2022 Growth Funding round by the UNICEF innovation fund.

馃嚢馃嚟 ParentingTips, Cambodia

Credit: @UNICEF/UN0645246/Htet

ParentingTips is a chatbot designed by UNICEF Cambodia with the support of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Women Affairs to help parents and caregivers provide optimal parenting for their children.

In order to reach the maximum number of beneficiaries possible, the chatbot is implemented via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology . Beneficiaries interact with the chatbot by listening and responding to voice prompts which are recorded in local languages and delivered via an ordinary phone call. IVR technology overcomes barriers to entry such as the need to be literate, have Internet access or access to a smartphone.

How it Works

Flow Design

In order to make it as simple as possible for UNICEF to improve the chatbot based on beneficiary feedback, RapidPro is used as the chatbot design tool. RapidPro provides an intuitive interface for non-technical users to design and modify chatbot flows. Flows can be designed via an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. The completed flow is then connected to the Somleng channel which is supported out of the box by RapidPro. Figure 1: ParentingTips Welcome Flow Figure 2: Somleng Channel Configuration

Beneficiary Registration

Beneficiaries opt-in to the chatbot by simply calling the short-code 1279 and following the IVR prompts configured in the RapidPro flow. The audio prompts collect beneficiary data such as: gender, child's age group, and preferred topic via a series of menus which are saved in RapidPro for later use.

For example the menu for collecting the beneficiary鈥檚 child age group is as follows (recorded in Khmer ).

Please choose an age group for your child. (釣熱灱釣樶瀲釤掅灇釣踞灍釣氠灳釣熱瀫釤掅灇釣会灅釣⑨灦釣欋灮釣樶灲釣欋灍釣樶煉釣氠灦釣斸煁釣釣坚灀釣氠灁釣熱煁釣⑨煉釣撫瀫釤)
  • If you are pregnant, please press 1. (釣斸灳釣釤嗎灃釣会瀯釣樶灦釣撫灂釤掅瀾釤冡灃釤勧焽 釣熱灱釣樶瀰釣会瀰釣涐焷釣佱煛釤)
  • If your baby is under 2 years old, press 2. (釣斸灳釣樶灦釣撫瀾釣夺灇釣釣⑨灦釣欋灮釣釤掅灇釤勧灅釤⑨瀱釤掅灀釣夺焼 釣熱灱釣樶瀰釣会瀰釣涐焷釣佱煝釤)
  • If your child is between 3 and 5 years old, press 3. (釣斸灳釣釣会灅釣夺灇釣忈灱釣呩灑釣夺灆釣会瀰釣撫煉釣涐焺釤囜灃釣羔煟釣娽灈釤嬦煡釣嗎煉釣撫灦釤 釣熱灱釣樶瀰釣会瀰釣涐焷釣佱煟釤)

Below is a technical explanation of what happens during beneficiary registration. Figure 3: ParentingTips IVR Registration Flow

  1. Beneficiary opts-in by calling to 1279.
  2. The Mobile Network Operator (MNO) forwards the call to a number managed by Telecom Cambodia.
  3. Telecom Cambodia sends a SIP Invite to Somleng
  4. Somleng connects to RapidPro via the IVR channel URL.
  5. A RapidPro flow is configured to run when the incoming call is received.
Chatbot Initiated Interactions

After the beneficiary is registered, the chatbot can be configured to generate periodic reminders. In order to keep the beneficiary engaged, these reminders are designed to be interactive. Configured on a rolling schedule (e.g. Weekly), the chatbot will generate an automated phone call to the beneficiary. The beneficiary picks up the phone, listens to the interactive IVR, chooses a topic of interest and listens to the message. They can choose to stay on the call as long as they want and choose different topics. When they are done, they simply hang up the call.

Here's an example of a Chatbot initiated interaction (recorded in Khmer).

Welcome to Parenting tips! Parenting tips is a chatbot designed with the support of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Women Affairs to help you as a parent or caregiver provide optimal parenting for your child. Please choose a topic below: (釣熱灱釣樶灍釤掅灉釣夺瀭釣樶灀釤嶀灅釣釣釣夺灀釤嬦瀫釣樶煉釣樶灉釣丰瀿釣羔瀭釣撫煉釣涐灪釤囜灀釤冡瀫釣夺灇釣呩灧釣夅煉釣呩灩釣樶瀫釣坚灀! 釣釣樶煉釣樶灉釣丰瀿釣糕嬦灀釤佱焽鈥嬦灁釣勧煉釣釣踞瀼釣♂灳釣勧瀶釤勧灆釣樶灦釣撫瀫釣夺灇釣熱灅釤掅灇釣斸灍釣樶煉釣氠灲釣涐灃釣 釣釤掅灇釣熱灲釣勧瀫釣丰瀰釤掅瀰釣釣夺灇釣撫灦釣氠灨 釣撫灧釣勨嬦瀭釣庒焾釣釣樶煉釣樶灦釣掅灧釣釣夺灇釣⑨灁釤夅灇釤 釣撫灧釣勧灑釣椺灧釣溼瀸釤掅瀳釣撫煂釣釣会灅釣夺灇釣忈灱釣 釣娽灳釣樶煉釣斸灨釣囜灲釣欋灙釣栣灮釣釣樶煉釣忈灦釣 釣灑釣夺瀻釣夺灃釤掅灆釣夺灁釣夺灈釣栣灨釣氠灁釤釣斸灀釤冡瀫釣夺灇釣呩灧釣夅煉釣呩灩釣樷嬦瀫釣坚灀釣⑨焺釣欋灁釣夺灀釣涐煉釣⑨灁釤掅灇釣熱灳釣氠煍 釣熱灱釣樶瀲釤掅灇釣踞灍釣氠灳釣熱灁釤掅灇釣掅灦釣撫灁釣戓瀬釣夺瀯釣釤掅灇釤勧灅釤)
  • For Maternal Health during Pregnancy please press 1. (釣熱灱釣樶瀰釣会瀰釣涐焷釣佱煛 釣熱灅釤掅灇釣夺灁釤嬦灁釤掅灇釣掅灦釣撫灁釣戓灍釣会瀬釣椺灦釣栣灅釣夺瀼釣夺瀫釤掅灀釣会瀯釣⑨焼釣♂灮釣勧灃釤佱灈釣樶灦釣撫灂釤掅瀾釤冡灃釤勧焽釤)
  • For maternal and newborn health up to 6 months please press 2. (釣呩灮釣呩灈釤佱瀬釤 釣熱灅釤掅灇釣夺灁釤嬦灁釤掅灇釣掅灦釣撫灁釣戓灍釣会瀬釣椺灦釣栣灅釣夺瀼釣夺灀釣丰瀯釣戓灦釣氠瀫釣戓灳釣斸瀫釣踞瀼釣娽灈釤嬦灑釣夺灆釣会煢釣佱焸釤)
  • For Maternal and Child Health from 6 months to 2 years old please press 3. (釣呩灮釣呩灈釤佱瀬釤 釣熱灅釤掅灇釣夺灁釤嬦灁釤掅灇釣掅灦釣撫灁釣戓灍釣会瀬釣椺灦釣栣灅釣夺瀼釣夺灀釣丰瀯釣釣会灅釣夺灇釣⑨灦釣欋灮釤︶瀬釤傗嬦瀶釣涐煁釤⑨瀱釤掅灀釣夺焼釤)

Below is a technical explanation of what happens during beneficiary registration. Figure 4: Chatbot Initiated IVR Flow

  1. A RapidPro schedule is configured to generate automated phone calls to beneficiaries on a periodic basis.
  2. RapidPro creates the call on Somleng via the REST API .
  3. Somleng sends a SIP Invite to Telecom Cambodia.
  4. Telecom Cambodia forwards the call to the Mobile Network Operator.
  5. The Mobile Network Operator initiates the call to the beneficiary.
  6. The beneficiary answers the call and follows the IVR prompts specified in the RapidPro flow.

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges in replicating this kind of program in another country or region is negotiating directly with the local Mobile Network Operators. This can be a challenge for many reasons. For example, it can be difficult to get a commercial agreement with a Mobile Network Operator and often there are multiple Mobile Network Operators in a given country or region.

Solutions

In order to overcome these issues, Somleng has developed a Carrier Bypass feature . This feature allows entities such as UNICEF to completely bypass negotiating with local Mobile Network Operators, which can increase the speed of deploying a program like ParentingTips by an order of magnitude.

The Carrier Bypass feature works by replacing the Mobile Network Operators with an off-the-shelf VoIP gateway such as the one pictured below.

The VoIP Gateway is connected to Somleng and loaded with local SIM cards, replacing the role of the Mobile Network Operators. For more information on this feature please refer to the Client Gateway Configuration Guide in our documentation.