Wednesday, 15 May 2013

UNICEF's draft report on Mobiles for Social & Behaviour Change in India

Read UNICEF's 'Draft Report on 'Mobiles for Social & Behaviour Change in India' at 

Its executive summary is here:

The consultation paper (draft) presents the key areas of emphasis in the growing mobile for development space in India. The purpose is to understand the scope and magnitude of the expanding mobile domain as it is lately linked essentially to advance development and governance objectives and seen as the most democratic technology medium to offer scope to deliver service needs anytime, anywhere. The Paper content has been derived from existing research and field inputs. The paper is intended to assist consultation ( Mobiles for Social and Behavior Change) stakeholders to get an overview of issues, scope and relevance in mobile thrust to support development efforts of the government and private players including bilateral agencies and civil society bodies.
Today, India has more than 800 million subscriptions – up from 6.4 million in 2002 - and the mobile pundits believe this number will exceed 1.2 billion by 2016.More people than ever before have
access to mobile phones and many of them are those at the bottom of economic pyramid (BoP) living in 250 backward districts of the country. The mobile density stands at 70 per 100 and the penetration rate is 51 %, which is below expectation. 
The low penetration rate indicates there is still room for growth.The most important driver of mobile growth is the wave of liberalisation and privatization of the telecom sector in 1990s that has led to more players determining the deployment, reach and usage of mobiles. Thus, mobile ‘culture’ has arrived and going to stay. 
Competition among mobile operators has resulted in the rapid extensionof mobile networks, falling prices of services and mobile handsets, and innovative service and business models that have reduced much of traditional information and communication bottlenecks and resultant impact in social and economic
processes. Given rising demand for network, access and services, itis estimated that by 2015, more than 90% of the total population will come under the “coverage gap”, and will need enhanced services and access networks. Rural areas will need special focus on 2G coverage followed by3G services.The intra and interdepartmental thrust under the proposed Mobile Governance Framework of the government is expected to spur service delivery till the last household.
There are increasing numbers of mobile based projects, and the government, bilateral agencies, private sector players, and the civil society continue to investin mobile based practices that can provide
local solutions in local context and problem areas. For instance, The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II government during the 65th Independence Day on August 15 (2012) announced a new Har
UNICEF MSBC Consultation Whitepaper:Layout 1 5/8/2013 12:08 PM Page 4 Use of Mobile Phones for Social & Behaviour Change
Hath Mein Phone (HHMP) (Mobile in Every Hand) scheme. It is expected that if implemented, this scheme will enable 28 million poor people (6 million families) across India to have access to free
connectivity and thereby ride on mobile platform to access services and other impacts from programme focus.
A review of 13 practices for this paper indicates the most common sectors for focus are education, health, socio-economic development, and disaster management well within the central focus of MDGs. There is evidence that stakeholders are interested
and expressed keenness in using mobiles as service and solution providers,yet there remain vital challenges towards sustaining
the pilots and scaling them. The pilot initiatives have highlighted two essential points. One, mobiles have emerged as effective mechanism to derive project impacts in – information dissemination, project monitoring / tracking, training of
front line workers and interpersonal communication practices. Second, mobile projects calls for inclusive agenda among
stakeholders in multi-stakeholder partnership mode.
Common themes of focus and role playing among stakeholders include network extension into rural areas, network upgrading (focused on urban areas), innovative applications, content, and services, alongside convergence. Specific focus on providing MVAS calls for applications in mHealth, mEducation, mBanking and
other development focus needs to cater to the BoP social market.
Given UNICEF’s focus on sustainable and effective communications for development thrust involving the isolated and
vulnerable groups, mobile application based services are likely to prove valuable in achieving programming goals.
Apart from connectivity and access for the deprived groups and communities, mobiles provide cost effective interventions, enable to overcome bottlenecks to access and deliver services, and enable
communities to maximise the impact of
available resources. 
This draft consultation paper solicits views and opinions from stakeholders as to what specific policy and programme
thrust required to maximize the potential of the most democratic medium in mobile to serve development needs. The final consultation paper will emerge as a knowledge guide for stakeholders as to why and how mobiles find increasing
presence and relevance to support development efforts as promoted by the government, industry, civil society and

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