JUBA – UNICEF, Save the Children and a network of child protection organisations recently launched a new online database and application designed to better protect children in emergencies, especially in South Sudan.
Developed globally but customized for South Sudan, 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.
The innovation is expected to drastically reduce administration time, giving case managers more time to dedicate to supporting vulnerable children. The application has the capacity to take photos and record audio, which 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.
“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,” said Hama Hansraj, Save the Children’s Country Director in South Sudan.
“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.”
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.
UNICEF South Sudan Deputy Representative, Andrea Suley, praised the application, a historic offering.
“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 Suley.
The new handbook supporting case management in the field and the new information management system will together strengthen the quality and reach of case management services by promoting a unified case management process, with broad vulnerability criteria while building and strengthening the social workforce capacities.