Red Cross Telefon Kwa Wouj reaches 2 million callers in two years

Published: 26 March 2014 14:09 CET

The  Red Cross interactive information line in Haiti has registered its 2 millionth call, less than two years after its was introduced to the Haitian population.

Claude Surena, Vice President of the Haiti Red Cross Society said it was an achievement of which the society could be proud. “This system has been made available to the public and keeps them informed of the different Red Cross programmes and activities. It also keeps us informed about what information the population really needs,” he said.

The Red Cross system, otherwise known as Telefon KwaWouj, was launched in May 2012. Free to call on 733 on the Digicel network, Telefon Kwa Wouj is an interactive phone line which enables callers to select and listen to a range of health, disaster preparedness and other potentially life-saving information.

As well as playing recorded information on subjects such as cholera prevention, sexual health and hurricane preparedness, by registering callers’ button pushes, the system is also able to collect feedback, conduct surveys and host quizzes.   

Known in the telecommunications world as an IVR, the interactive voice response system is widely used in the private sector for services such as telephone banking and automated ticket purchases, however Telefon Kwa Wouj marks the first time the technology has been used in a humanitarian context anywhere in the world.  

From time to time the system hosts quizzes in which callers can participate using their mobile phones. These quizzes test on a variety of subjects and the answers to the questions asked can all be found in the IVR system. The quizzes are a good way to determine if information  provided by the system is being retained. The winners of the quiz receive a prize from the Red Cross.

Samuel Sinclair, one of the winners of the IVR quiz in November 2013, said: “I appreciate all the information I received. All the things I learned taught me how to manage my health.”

The IVR system was the last addition to the portfolio of media tools the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has harnessed in Haiti to get information into the hands of those who need it, combined with a twice-weekly radio show, SMS messaging, Twitter, a sound truck, billboards, posters and flyers.

The Red Cross  has worked along with Digicel since the very launch of the IVR system to make sure that the service is up and running at all times.

“Digicel Business, the ICT section of Digicel Haiti, since its launch last year, provides business solutions with cutting-edge technologies. ‘Telefon Kwa Wouj’ is one example of how we drive efficiency by reaching its 2 millionth call with the IVR/E1 solution. We thank all of our technical teams who have helped ‘Telefon Kwa Wouj’ grow,” said Ineke Botter, CEO of Digicel Haiti.

“As the leading telecoms provider in Haiti, Digicel is committed to helping keep people safe, and using its resources to tackle the humanitarian challenges faced by so many,” she said.

Reaching its 2 millionth call is a milestone that shows how important it still is to have access to accurate and timely information.