Africa’s Voices Recognised for Groundbreaking Research

Africa’s Voices Foundation receives the President’s Medal at the 2016 Market Research Society Awards. The Prestigious prize recognises extraordinary achievement in social and market research.

Africa’s Voices is pleased to announce that it has received the prestigious Market Research Society’s 2016 President’s Medal for its pioneering work using digital communications to gain insights from hard to reach communities in Somalia. The medal was presented to Africa’s Voices at an award ceremony held in London on 5th December 2016.


The Market Research Society’s President’s Medal is awarded annually to organisations or individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to social and market research. Past winners have included BBC Media Action and StreetInvest.

Africa’s Voices, a non-profit research organisation originating from the University of Cambridge, was recognised for a pilot project with UNICEF Somalia, where it used interactive radio shows and SMS to gather people’s beliefs and practices related to polio vaccinations,and maternal and neonatal health.

Through the eight-week project, Africa’s Voices analysed over 15,000 text messages (in Somali) from over 8,400 people – 44% being women. The data and rich insights gained will inform UNICEF’s child health and immunisation work in Somalia.

Speaking at the ceremony, the President of the Market Research Society, Dame Dianne Thompson, said Africa’s Voices highlights the opportunities provided by new digital communications to gain insights from isolated communities. “In a country with insecure and inaccessible regions, Africa’s Voices has developed an admirable partnership with UNICEF Somalia. Their work helps to amplify the voices of hard-to-reach communities and is proof positive of research as a force for good,” Dame Dianne Thompson said.


Our Director, Dr Sharath Srinivasan, said: “We’re excited about how seizing the communications revolution, through rigorous, innovative research, can amplify hard-to-reach citizens’ voices and enhance well-being in African countries. To be recognised by the Market Research Society with the President’s Medal so early on in our journey puts wind in our sails.”

We are currently implementing a longer-term partnership with UNICEF Somalia, building on the work of our pilot project. Over a 30-week period, interactive radio programmes on a wider range of health topics are being broadcast on 26 radio stations across Somalia, giving the new campaign the potential to reach 70% of the Somali population. Radio programmes are produced and distributed by a local media partner, MediaINK. Read more about our UNICEF project here.

Other organisations have also partnered with Africa’s Voices to gain a stronger understanding of local views. In Kenya, Africa’s Voices partnered with Oxfam to collect and analyse community attitudes towards taxes, the national budget, and oil and gas exploration.

“Africa’s Voices ability to stimulate inclusive dialogue and collect opinions of marginalised communities in local languages through simple technologies has been invaluable in informing how we engage with our target beneficiaries,” said Oxfam Kenya’s Communication and Information Advisor, Joyce Kabue. “Africa’s Voices approach is simple, interactive and reaches people living in areas with low connectivity,” Ms Kabue added.

About the Market Research Society and the President’s Medal

With members in more than 60 countries, the Market Research Society is the world’s largest research association serving all those with professional equity in provision or use of market, social and opinion research, and in business intelligence, market analysis, customer insight and consultancy

The President’s Medal was introduced in 2012 to recognise organisations or individuals that have made an extraordinary contribution to research. This is a broad criteria, purposefully, to allow for the widest range of individuals and organisations to be considered. The key factor is that the winner must have done the ‘extraordinary’ – achieving something beyond the ordinary bounds of social and market research. The shortlist of candidates is selected by the President’s Medal Panel, which consists of the CEO, Co-Chairs and President of MRS.

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