eBASE Initiates Work on Cyber Platform for Mitigating GBV with Ministry of Microfinance and Social Affairs of Republic of Benin Background
Cyberhealth technologies are well suited to address unfair disparities in health. Access to internet has significantly improved in sub Saharan Africa with most families having access to mobile phones and/or internet. It has been used successfully by villagers to report problems in real time. This can also be exploited to address issues around gender-based violence, intimate partner violence, unplanned pregnancy and sexual and reproductive health. GBV is fueled by secrecy and shame that surrounds it in African culture. The privacy that a mobile phone can provide means it is able to provide a secure and trustworthy channel for women to reach social, health and legal services.
The recent CIMSA 2018 conference in Cotonou which had as objective to contribute to the elaboration of an operational strategy for ICT development in the African Health System for improving risk management and patient security (mother and child) in order to develop medical tourism and strengthen technical platform efficiency, was one of those platforms that highlighted the engagement of African countries in developing the cyberhealth sector in Africa and the role cyberhealth can play in addressing equity in healthcare coverage.
The Kwik Klik App is a cyber platform developed at eBASE to reduce unplanned pregnancy, GBV and IPV as a primary objective and to provide post GBV social, legal and medical services in a quick and trustworthy platform to women in need as a second objective. The app uses geospatial data and artificial intelligence to advise women about risk of GBV and provide escape routes. In a situation where a woman has suffered GBV, the app allows her to reach out and receive social, legal and medical services through the privacy of her phone and mobile delivery of any products needed.
In Benin, the ministry of Microfinance and social affairs has set up a social security scheme for GBV victims whereby victims receive a microfinance capital as an escape route from abusive relations or financial dependence. This approach uses social workers in local councils to reach out to women. Uptake of this scheme is low due to low rates of reporting of GBV and IPV which results from fear of reprisals and stigma following GBV.
What we did
eBASE was invited by the ministry of microfinance and social affairs of Benin to present the Kwik Klik app platform. Present was the Honorable Minster, Bintou Chabi Adam Taro and 6 cabinet members. eBASE team gave a 10 minutes presentation on the Kwik Klik app and how it can help victims of GBV and how it can be integrated into the social services in Benin. There was a 30 minutes discussion and eBASE received feedback, questions and comments on the platform. They also expressed interest in using the platform for GBV in the republic of Benin.
What was the feedback
The minister gave room for his cabinet members to provide feedback on the presentation with most them expressing concern about literacy level of rural women in manipulating the app, on possible home conflicts if a man discovers the wife is using the app, and if the app had possibilities of targeting violence on men as there were cases of men facing home violence. eBASE provided how these aspects and others were addressed in Kwik Klik App including use of dummy accounts and possibility of bystanders raising GBV alarms.
The minister was impressed with the Kwik Klik initiative saying it addresses an important aspect in most communities where there are lots of GBV cases with the women having the fear to seek counsel. She asked questions regarding the possibility of incorporating the app to help address cases of child home abuse and on the ethical concerns regarding that She highlighted the fact that the app itself with deter perpetrators of GBV. She highlighted the possibility of incorporating social workers at local councils which will facilitate integration.
What are the perspectives
eBASE discussed possibilities of collaboration with the ministry of microfinance and socials affairs for the coming fiscal year. eBASE is to share a demo platform with the ministry and thereafter follow up with timelines for collaboration. This approach is a best practice and can be copied to other countries.
Figure 1: eBASE team with Minister's Cabinet
Figure 2: eBASE team with Minister of Microfinance and Social Affairs