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UNICEF, CSO launch public information app

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The Central Statistics Organization (CSO) with financial support of the UNICEF launched a new mobile application called “Afghan Info” here on Monday in order to provide information of different governmental organizations to smart-phone users.

This is the first time that Afghans can access the Central Statistics Organization’s database via their mobile phones.

UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, Akhil Iyer, said that the mobile application -or app- launched today, has data on more than 200 socio-demographic and economic indicators on 34 provinces and 401 districts from over 15 data sources.

Hinting to the new technology and telecommunication services, he said that in 2002 there were 12,000 telephone lines in Afghanistan now there are more than 23 million mobile subscribers: over two-thirds of the Afghan population. And as noted earlier, the number of people with access to internet has increased to nine per cent in this country.

“Afghanistan has an illiteracy level of a little over 40 percent, 66 percent of households own at least one mobile phone. Nine percent of the population has access to internet. Therefore, connection of people to CSO database through Afghan Info can provide people with new statistics,” he mentioned.

He said that the app, when fully developed, will allow mobile phone users in any part of the world to get data and information on Afghanistan against any of the indicators for which data is available.

He added that quality data will reveal in with section the Afghan people need cooperation. “There are inequalities between provinces which require us to redouble our efforts to reach children and women in remote and marginalized areas with essential social services. Afghan Info allows us to look at various indicators, not just at national level, but by provinces and districts. This will allow evidence-based decisions on where we need to improve and where we need to put in extra effort – either in terms of development financing or additional health staff, supplies or teachers and so on,” he said.

He reiterated that this new app would enable UNICEF to identify and visualize where children and women are most vulnerable, where schools are needed most, and where health centers, and nutrition and protection services are required.

“We wish our partner, CSO, success in using this new app to share information across the country and also with those outside Afghanistan to make decisions to support this country through the use of data,” he stressed.

Mohammad Kazim Habibi, Admin and Finance Deputy of CSO, told Afghanistan Times that all data from governmental administrations would be displayed on Afghan Info and people could use and express their viewpoint about data though a particular outlet.

Deputy Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Emal Marjan, said that Afghan Info would enable people to access data directly. As a result, CSO will work hard to provide correct and accurate information to the public.

It is pertaining to mention  that as access to internet is limited and still costly in Afghanistan, the app is also designed to work offline including to search data, generate maps, view national and provincial profiles and share them via file-sharing services both offline via Bluetooth and online through email and social media among other services.

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