Vulnerable communities in remote areas do not have access to critical information on health and livelihoods urgently needed to make informed decisions about their lives. Media technologies fail to reach marginalized communities in remote areas and do not account for lack of internet access and electricity. Nor do these interventions acknowledge a lack of literacy, ability to transliterate to one’s spoken language, and limited financial ability to purchase a smartphone or other expensive devices.
Wanji aims to combat the digital divide and information gap in the developing world by leveraging widespread mobile telephony for disseminating critical information on health and livelihood issues to vulnerable communities. Wanji overcomes barriers of literacy, language, and geography by providing an interactive, educational experience in multiple languages delivered free-of charge through devices the majority of people can already access: a simple mobile phone.
Primary beneficiaries are marginalized populations who have a basic mobile phone but limited access to training/education: particularly those who are rural, homebound and/or have limited literacy. Users call a toll-free number, listen to, and interact with educational stories in their primary language. Secondary beneficiaries of Wanji include local content partners who can successfully deliver interventions to vulnerable communities who have traditionally been difficult to access.
Mission and Vision
Wanji’s mission is to provide access to information on critical rights and development issues through mobile telephony and engage communities to reach people where they are, with the tools they have, and in ways that speak to them and empower them to make decisions impacting their futures. Wanji’s vision is to replicate a sustainable and effective model scaled to multiple country contexts to deliver content developed by partners to millions of beneficiaries.
Wanji leverages innovation and appropriate technology to transcend time and space, bringing learning to those who need it most in a way they can access now. Wanji relies on basic telephony, making audio content available to callers through Interactive Voice Response technology and, expanding the reach of messages and training designed by local partners. Wanji is free for consumers to access -- essential to its ability to reach even remote and impoverished communities and its ability to scale. Wanji narratives are designed as ‘choose your own adventure’ stories, placing listeners in the position of decision-maker and asking them to decide what happens throughout the stories in order to build engagement and enhance learning. The visibility and impact of Wanji can be measured by analytics from the backend technology, which provides indicators on scope and reach. Wanji’s prototype was first tested in Teso region, northeastern Uganda, in 2015. Delivered in the local language to campaign on livelihoods and savings, 12% of participants subsequently reported a new intention to store their harvests. In 2017, Wanji was awarded the MIT SOLVE prize to support its expansion into new regions and issue areas. Wanji reached more than 100,000 unique users in 2017. In 2019, new Wanji games have gone live in Cambodia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, and Pakistan. Combined, these games have generated more than 2.5 million calls and have the potential to reach millions more.
Wanji goes past traditional models of capacity building workshops, which are often costly and may not produce broad impact, and technologies which assume a high degree of financial resources. Wanji is the first mobile platform to curate material in several languages, ensuring the game’s reach to illiterate communities and those unable to transcribe into their local language. Wanji collaborates closely with partners to ensure that messaging is contextualized to the local context. Due to the elastic nature of platform, Wanji can be used to provide information on several development and rights issues and can be adapted to different country contexts quickly and effectively. Importantly, Wanji is able to gather comprehensive analytics through its data rich platform to ensure maximum impact and efficacy. We’ve partnered with behavioral economists to develop and refine a system that can analyze and measure in-game learning across repeat plays.
Planned Goals and Milestones
The backend technology of Wanji is data rich, with the ability to provide detailed analytics on in-game learning. The next step is to extend and enhance evaluation to assess real life impact. We are also experimenting with and improving types of content, to maximize engagement and impact. Refining and streamlining these processes will allow us to offer this service to a range of advocates across more than a dozen countries to reach millions of potential learners.