UNICEF Kenya and Safaricom have announced a new partnership to help Kenyan children in a range of areas including education, child protection and emergencies.
The new partners have pledged to work together to ensure children – especially the poorest and most marginalized – can access the Internet at school, are protected from violence and abuse, and receive life-saving information during droughts, floods and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.
“This new partnership with Safaricom has enormous potential to help some of the most vulnerable children in Kenya, including those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” UNICEF Kenya Deputy Representative Jean Lokenga said. “By working together, we can drive transformational change for children and their families and collectively deliver results that benefit communities across the country.”
“Our partnership with UNICEF incorporates new areas of mutual interest, such as online safety for children, as well as connecting schools to the Internet,” said Steve Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Safaricom. “We are particularly excited about joining the ‘Spot it, Stop it’ campaign which aims to protect children from all forms of violence and abuse, including online abuse.”
Under the partnership, UNICEF Kenya and Safaricom will work together for two years on the priority areas of education, child protection and emergency response. It will bring together UNICEF’s expertise on children’s rights, advocacy and programme work with Safaricom’s range of products, services and ability to reach and communicate with a large audience.
Priority projects under the new partnership include:
The Connecting Schools initiative, which has already connected seven public primary schools to the Internet, enabling online learning and use of digital tools for more than 1,000 students, including children with disabilities.
A campaign on violence against children, ‘Spot it, Stop it’, which aims to raise public awareness of the different forms of violence – physical, sexual and emotional – including how to recognise and report these. The campaign also addresses violence and abuse against children in the online space.
Support for public information and behaviour change communication on COVID-19, including the promotion of handwashing, mask wearing and physical distancing.
Online safety is an issue of particular concern to both organisations. Children and young people are increasingly living their lives online and face new risks, including online exploitation and sexual abuse. They need support to gain the skills to navigate these risks effectively. This needs an “all of society” approach, including from mobile network operators, internet service providers, teachers and schools, government and the police.
UNICEF Kenya and Safaricom’s partnership is in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 17, which encourages partnerships for sustainable development, and anchored in a shared value partnership approach, which says that business can remain profitable while helping solve social problems. It also aligns the missions and strategies of the two organizations.
UNICEF Kenya and Safaricom began their relationship in 2014 following the launch of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, a set of practical tools to help business promote corporate social responsibility around child rights. More recently, the two organisations have worked together to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through SMS, the Internet of Good Things platform, and support for the national helpline.