Kicking off the new year

A message from the Chair of the Primero Board

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New Year's Message from Sheema Sen Gupta, Chair of the Primero Board

Dear Friends of Primero,

As 2023 comes to an end, I would like to take a moment to reflect back and congratulate the Primero Community for a truly exceptional year. In times of uncertainty, strong partnerships provide stability and a sense of hope. Primero is proof that we can accomplish so much more by coming together than we can on our own.

Since taking on my new role as the Director of Child Protection for UNICEF in August, and with that the role of Chairperson of the Primero Board, it’s been encouraging to see our ongoing and growing collaboration across teams and organisations. Together, we advance systems and tools that will improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable children across the world - in both crises and development contexts - by improving the ability of service providers to do their crucial work in a more effective and efficient way.

As a global community, we are facing immense challenges in our humanitarian work, with social service systems being tested and stretched beyond their existing capacities in many countries. Sadly, we are also falling behind in our pursuit of the SDGs. I strongly believe Primero is an important tool that helps us to accelerate the digital transformation which is so much needed in our time to better protect and provide for the most vulnerable and at-risk children and survivors of violence.

On behalf of the Primero Board and all of our partner organizations, I want to sincerely thank you all for your invaluable contributions and commitment. As we reflect back on this year, I’d like to share a few of our joint achievements from 2023.

  • Continued roll-outs and scaling up: We celebrated the Primero deployments in Afghanistan, Benin, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Moldova, Nepal, Panama, Sierra Leone, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Sudan and Ukraine. Major scale-ups took place in Cambodia, Iraq, Ghana, Guatemala, Jordan, Nigeria, Romania and Somalia. More and more, this demand is coming from our government partners as they seek to strengthen their national CP systems. We are now supporting +11,000 active users (an increase of 33%) in 67 live implementations across 56 countries and territories who have reached more than 1.5 million vulnerable children and survivors of violence with digitally supported case management (an increase of more than 300% this year).
  • Continuous improvements: Primero products and services made major advances in 2023. New releases included features such as push notifications, skip logic, the Insights advanced reporting feature, family linkages for case management, and a newly optimized offline mode. We also developed an exciting proof of concept with a RapidPro integration that will allow bidirectional communication between Primero and the communities where we work. New guidance produced by the GBVIMS Team for rolling out GBVIMS+ with governments, the very first of its kind.
  • Independent recognition: The Digital Public Goods Alliance recertified Primero as a digital public good, and UNDP spotlighted Primero in a case study in its report Digital Public Goods for the SDGs. Save the Children published a fantastic article The Power of Technology in Revolutionizing Child Protection which beautifully describes how CPIMS+/Primero helped to reunify 7000 children with their families in South Sudan. Finally, in a major change of practice, UNHCR released a position brief stating that “UNHCR actively encourages the use of CPIMS+ and GBVIMS+ as the preferred digital information management systems for Partners for CP and GBV case management.”
  • Optimized support and business model: In 2023, we implemented the second year of the Primero Sustainability Plan with an innovative subscription payments model, supported by a pooled fund. Our support response times have been reduced dramatically, and our Primero YouTube channel had more than 15k unique views totaling more than 500 hours of watch time. Costs are down, the speed of deployment is way up, and we are expanding global technical capacity by training partner organizations and embedding team members in UNICEF regional offices. Our partnership with UNICEF ICTD, the Legal Office, and the Division of Financial and Administrative Management (DFAM) has never been stronger, and we extend our thanks to all of these colleagues who invest so much in helping Primero succeed.
  • Strengthening our community: As a marker of the maturity of Primero’s governance structures, we convened our 25th consecutive quarterly Primero Board meeting, and welcomed UNHCR as a full member. We also launched new partnership with WFP to extend Primero for PSEA incident reporting, signaling a new era of partnership on digitalization. The Primero Global Meeting, held in Bangkok in November, was attended by +70 people representing Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Lao PDR, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Spain, Syria, Thailand, Timor Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, and Viet Nam. Finally, the quarterly Primero Data Challenge webinar series convened +120 members of the community around improved data usage, with the team from Cambodia winning first place for their amazing work on PowerBI/ONA dashboards.

For the coming year....

... we will continue to focus on fundamentals, doubling down on security and usability. Also in the works:

  • Evidence generation and research, including joint work with UNICEF’s Division of Data, Analytics, Planning and Monitoring (DAPM) on admin data and a new piece of research with the CPIMS Steering Committee
  • A new communications strategy to lift Primero visibility, including a new handle on X and Instagram – follow us @PrimeroProtects
  • A new product extensions for complaints and feedback mechanisms, in partnership with the UNICEF Accountability to Affected Populations and DAPM teams
  • Engaging with Digital Public Infrastructure and Digital Public Goods agendas, through the UNDP Digital X catalogue and the Digital Public Goods Alliance
  • Scaling up and optimizing to meet the demand, with more than 20 new deployments in planning

We appreciate your collaboration and support and look forward to continue working with you in 2024. Warm wishes for the New Year. 

Sheema Sen Gupta

UNICEF Global Director of the Child Protection Programme Team

and Chair of the Primero Board