No cost phone access to disability information
In Ethiopia, individuals with disabilities (estimated by WHO/World Bank to exceed 17% or over 17 million persons), parents and family members, as well as governmental and non-governmental service providers have limited access to disability-specific information.
Where to go for physical rehabilitation services, assistive devices, inclusive schools and educational materials, skills training, accessible transportation, financial services, job opportunities, and other practical information? In addition, persons with disabilities have few ways to find and share information with each other. An accessible phone platform was proposed, based upon a successful similar platform in India (Enable Vaani).
Minch is a voice-based, Amharic language, a social networking platform that is helping to bridge the information gap for persons with disabilities who do not have access to smartphones or internet connections. It is a free-for-use platform, where users are required to dial a toll-free number 6768, where they can listen, record, and share relevant opportunities and information, stories and experiences too.
Since its launch in February 2021, Minch has received over 24000 calls on the platform with users requesting various types of information.
Minch presents a scalable model with additional local Ethiopian languages and has the potential to deliver knowledge and information to persons with disabilities and others living in cities, towns, and rural areas of Ethiopia.
The Minch Platform – what is it?
Minch (or “Source” in Amharic) is an interactive voice response (IVR) telephone platform, was launched in February 2021, to connect persons with disabilities and others to disability-related information, in Amharic. Users access the platform by giving a call to a toll-free number 6768, which can be done through a basic mobile phone without internet, or a landline. The user then listens to audio information and announcements about health and rehabilitation services, education and skills training opportunities, employment and self-employment opportunities, as well as about government and NGO development programs. The platform is free to the user and has clocked over 24000 calls since its launch.
Minch Platform Content
The Minch will replicate the EnAble Vaani model as a voice-based (but with an SMS based text option for the hearing impaired) social media platform for information dissemination, collaboration, and sharing for and between:
- Person with disabilities
- Family members
- Rehabilitation service providers
- Providers of assistive aids, devices, and technologies
- Development program practitioners
- Government officials
and covering key areas such as:
- Key events, updates, and upcoming events – such as recruitment opportunities, job fairs, disability-related events, workshops, etc
- General Disability Information– such as definitions of various types of disabilities, information on national policies and disability directorates, etc
- Inclusive Health Services –location of disability-friendly services and accessible facilities, including SRH, eye tests, medical rehabilitation,
- Inclusive Education –location of inclusive primary and secondary schools, higher education opportunities,
- Inclusive Livelihoods – information on job opportunities, location of inclusive technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, formal sector employment opportunities, recruitment services, job-seeking skills training, support for income-generating business activities, financial services,
- Share with Minch –an opportunity for persons with disabilities to share their experiences, post queries, tips,
The Minch phone platform for disseminating information and facilitating collaboration will be run as a partnership between the following entities:
- Lead Partner –ECDD
- Knowledge Partner – EnAbleIndia
- Technology Partner – GramVaani/OnionDev
- Employment Content Partner –net
- Telecom Partner – Ethiotelecom
Role of each Partner
Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD) – Lead Partner
ECDD is an Ethiopian civil society development organization, established in 2005. ECDD works with other organizations to promote and facilitate the inclusion of persons with disabilities and disability issues in mainstream service delivery and development programs in Ethiopia. ECDD work focuses on inclusive health services, inclusive education, inclusive livelihoods, and inclusive community development. The ECDD Association has 59 prominent Ethiopians as members, a 7-member Board of Directors, with the majority of women, and 50 staff members out of which 19 are persons with disabilities. ECDD Head Office is located in Addis Ababa and also has regional offices in SNNPR and Tigray region. In 2015, ECDD helped establish the Ethiopian Business and Disability Network (EBDN) of companies and organizations employing, or interested in employing persons with disabilities. EBDN counts over 30 members.
ECDD Role in Minch:
- Strategy and growth
Develop short and longer-term strategies for platform development and growth
– Moderate content – choosing which recordings to publish
– Contacts with content creators to give advice and feedback on the content
– Content creation – particularly during the startup phase, creating audios and texts that can be published on the platform
– Basic level reporting on content
– Contact NGOs, DPOs, other organizational partners for content
– Encourage EBDN members to post vacancy announcements on the platform.
– Encourage and train partners to engage with the platform
– Assist with Content
– Organizing and collating data
– Reporting: daily, weekly, monthly, annually
EnAble India – Knowledge Partner
EnAble India is an Indian-based NGO that has developed EnAble Vaani and currently operates it across 15 states in India. EnAble India has been working for the economic independence and dignity of persons with disabilities (PWDs) since 1999. EnAble India collaborates with 600+ companies with 4500+ persons with disabilities gainfully employed. EnAble India’s content and training best practices have become the norm for the disability sector in India, paving the way for the EnAble Academy, India’s first online collaborative community initiative for mainstreaming the livelihoods of persons with disabilities.
EnAble India Role in Minch:
ECDD staff on the operation of the platform
- Implementation & Set-up
Initial hand-holding to set up the platform and promotion strategies Guidance on best practices for successful implementation of Minch
Onion Dev Technology – Technology Partner
Onion Dev is a social tech company incubated out of IIT Delhi in 2009 with the intent of reversing the flow of information, from bottom-up instead of top-down. Using simple technologies and social context to design tools, Onion Dev has been able to impact communities, with more than 2.5 million users in over 15 Indian States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Namibia, and South Africa
Onion Dev Role in Minch:
- Technology transfer
- IVR Platform development and MobileApp
- Content moderation platform
- Reporting from platform
- Setup and tech support for the operation of the platform
- Training and guidance on:
- Use of technology platform
- Development of new content
- Development of platform engagement strategy
Initial assistance with technical troubleshooting of the platform
Ethiotelecom – Telecommunications Partner
Ethiotelecom is the sole telecommunications company in Ethiopia, providing mobile phone 4G network and Internet service throughout the country to over 65 million mobile phone users.
Ethiotelecom Role in Minch:
- Provide a toll-free phonenumber
- Provide reduced fee call charges
- Provide a 4-digit callback number
Make available necessary equipment, servers, etc
The corporate partner is committed to the principle of responsible corporate citizenship and is actively engaged in supporting the social and economic development of the communities it operates in.
Corporate Partner Role in Minch:
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy expansion, branding and promotional activities
- Operating costs
Periodic review, advice, and feedback on progress and results
Minch Platform Performance Targets (2021-22):
- Mobile App development initiation
- Addition of another local language
- Recruitment Team identified for set-up in Ethiojobs
- 8,000 users by yearend
Minch Media Coverage 2021:
- Fana Broadcasting Corporate, Amharic: https://www.fanabc.com/english/ecdd- unveils-toll-free-mobile-service-for-people-with-disabilities-in-ethiopia/
- ESAT TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kgTF9ujJ5Q
- Kana TV (last segment): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV5jRxct5Dc
- UNFPA Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/UNFPAEthiopia/status/1356592722082160641
- ETV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abpoZ5J7WvI
- AMNTV: https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=411792733249285&_rdr or https://www.youtu be.com/watch?v=cY9oNTOZqP0
- BBC Amharic: https://www.bbc.com/amharic/news-56036401
- Fana Broadcasting Corporate, English: https://www.fanabc.com/english/ecdd- unveils-toll-free-mobile-service-for-people-with-disabilities-in-ethiopia/
- Asham TV News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d2MvKRnjbc