SWAZILAND: Mlandvo Ngwenya-Infojukies

Date: September 6, 2018
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Swaziland – Info Junkies is an information technology company behind the mobile application, GumaSango, to benefit the youth and the general public.

The creation of the GumaSango app was inspired by the results of the 2007 study of Violence Against Children and Women in Swaziland which showed a high prevalence of abuse against women and children. Although it is in the early stages of development, the app seeks to provide women, the youth and the general public with sexual and reproductive health information, legal and constitutional rights and gender based violence. The app also caters for men as it has information on circumcision.

The project aims to provide information on sexual and social issues and challenges faced today. GumaSango also poses as a hub of accurate information regarding sexual education, bullying, addiction, HIV/AIDS, STIs and STDs, abuse and circumcision from health practitioners and councilor. In addition, it serves as a digital research center where medical information within the app’s scope of topics can be found. It will also provide access to one-on-one and group chats with professionals will also enable users to discuss topics anonymously that are relevant to with counselors readily available to mediate and ensure that all information passed around is accurate. Users will also have a glossary of terms, surveys, medical research, studies and innovative products related to sexual health.

The main activities include:

  • Procurement of devices to develop software
  • Establish a home office to foster a professional development environment
  • Formulate a task force
  • Establish a steady internet connection
  • Create an online portfolio
  • Market the application and encourage people to use the application

Thus far, there is a total of 30 beneficiaries; 10 direct beneficiaries and 20 indirect beneficiaries. But once the app has been properly established, then there will be a larger number of beneficiaries. InfoJunkies has allocated a total of $158 and that is the only amount budgeted for the project at the moment. InfoJunkies has conducted one on one interactions with individuals of both genders and conducted community surveys through retail centers to establish what people need so that the app caters to those needs. They aim to also have online ratings and comment sections within the app to monitor the impact of the app.

Because of the intricacies behind developing and running the application in a professional manner, there is a shortage of resources mainly the qualifies personnel to work behind the scenes to ensure that users are always exposed to accurate information since the topics raised in the platform are sensitive. A bigger challenge is to establish a steady internet connection in Swaziland for all parties involved in these interactions. However, despite these challenges, this application has the potential to present an opportunity to promote and encourage victims of abuse to communicate without fear of prejudice and women will benefit from this the most because they, unfortunately, face abuse more than any other group. GumaSango will also aid men to understand themselves and manhood better which will, in turn, encourage them to support women.

Ntsika Simelane of Nkwalini said,” Sometimes an indirect intervention from an external party is necessary to encourage an individual to take action he/she would otherwise not take should it have been from a familiar source. This is where GumaSango comes in.” GumaSango could be used as a point of reference for couples as well as individuals when they are trying to make decisions that they are uncertain about. Sex education which is not taught in many schools in Swaziland is provided to the youth but they also acquire information on other topics which are part of their daily experiences. People will most likely develop a positive attitude towards discussing topics that they are shy to address or have nobody to discuss with, anonymously, in this platform which brings these topics to light and results in well-versed communities.

An important factor that is essential for the growth and sustainability of this application is access and adaptation of the youth and the larger Swazi community to new and improved technological advances. Access to accurate information and communication with health practitioners is also a necessity, more so, because people find comfort in approaching certain topics (mainly those addressed on GumaSango) in masses rather than individually.

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