In rural areas, where almost 90% of the population lives, radio serves as a vital platform for public discussion, information sharing and news. The United Nations initiative Pulse Lab Kampala, along with partners and with the support of the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda, is developing a prototype that makes it possible to conduct analysis of public discussions on the radio. The tool under development is unique and a worldwide innovation, involving the development of speech technology for three African languages (Ugandan English, Luganda and Acholi). For the first time people’s voices from public radio broadcasts are accessible to advance the Global Goals.
There are currently over 250 FM radio stations across Uganda, most of them are community radio stations.These stations host popular phone-in shows where listeners call in and talk about for example violence against women, floods, malaria, adolescence pregnancy, teachers absenteeism, price fluctuations, or cholera.
What people say on the radio is detected by Pulse Lab Kampala through small hardware deployed across the country.
What people say on public discussions is transformed into text. The topics of interest related to the Global Goals are automatically found by the tool.
A web interface shows in real-time what people say about a selected topic in different parts of the country (in radio clips or text).
Approximately 7.5 million words are spoken on Ugandan radio stations every day (around nine times the number of words in the complete works of Shakespeare). The tool provides the ability to listen to just the topics of interest to monitor and achieve the Global Goals.
Most people in rural areas are too poor to acquire land titles.
If a woman is going to give birth, and there is no health service or health worker, she is going to get fistula.
Eddwaliro lyaffe temuli yadde panadol kyokka nga n'abakyala bazaalira ku sseminti
Obuyambi bwobwerere bujja kulekesa abasajja okulabirira bakyala babwe abembuto.
Personal experiences and opinions:
The cause of early marriages most times is a lack of self esteem. Most girls don't know what to do after school.
At a school a boy told me ‘I don't know what I'm going to do. At home my father is arranging marriage for me’.
Comment from officials, spokespersons and public figures:
Domestic violence is not increasing. What is increasing is the level of intolerance. People are now becoming intolerant to violence, that's why they are reporting cases.
Local news reports, providing information on events:
Concern over high dropout rates among young girls in Otuke district.
Floods in slums are causing people to migrate.
The number of mentions of floods, storms and heavy rains were counted week by week. The trend corresponds to the heavy rains caused by El Niño, peaking in Kampala in mid December.
Number of flood-related discussions per week:
Example from Gulu:
An mere amito ngat mo ma pe okwano en aye otel wiwa.
Wawinyo ni line mac ongolo wa ki kwene
owcalo grader kany ocoro wang yo acora obalo muranga pa dano
Have you ever been asked to pay a bribe?
To build the prototype, privacy issues are addressed through the privacy and data protection principles set out by UN Global Pulse. These principles are designed to ensure that the data collected is handled with the utmost protection of the interests of the individuals speaking.
A project involving analysis of people’s voices expressed on the radio naturally requires high levels of privacy considerations and protection. Even though radio is a public forum, Pulse Lab Kampala takes extra measures to protect the people behind the data and applies strict privacy principles to ensure that individuals are not exposed in a way that is to their disadvantage.
Pulse Lab Kampala is the third lab of the UN Global Pulse network. Under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, it supports the UN Country Team and the Government of Uganda to achieve the Global Goals for sustainable development. As a regional hub, it leverages data innovation, new sources of digital 'Big Data' and real-time analysis techniques.
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