June 04, 2009
Kenya Contact Center Sets Up Emergency Response Number
By Anuradha Shukla
Kenyan contact center KenCall, has developed and launched the nation’s first emergency services phone number and operation center. This announcement has been made in response to the recent famine and aims to rescue people in distress.
Kenyan citizens who are facing hardships and need urgent help can now call a 109 freephone number to inform NGOs and government aid agencies of their plight. By doing so, they can help these organizations allocate their aid accordingly.
This helpline is the result of a combined effort of Kenya’s telecommunication companies and NGOs such as the Red Cross and KenCall (News - Alert). The number is becoming popular and thousands of people from famine-hit areas have begun calling KenCall’s customer service agents.
Once the information is collected, the agents prepare a detailed daily report and send it to the NGOs and the state. This information helps them to understand where aid is needed most and to effectively coordinate their efforts.
According to officials, this service was launched when Kenya’s Interior Ministry approached KenCall for business input into viable famine responses. The company immediately responded to the call and Nicholas Nesbitt, KenCall’s founder and CEO, made a team to find possible solutions.
The experts at KenCall were able to launch the service three days later and have been able to make the 109 number synonymous with the humanitarian crisis. The Kenyan citizens with problems now know where to call to direct aid. The agents at the call center now take approximately 12,000 calls a week and in total they have handled over 500,000 calls from famine stricken areas.
“Setting up the service was the best way I could see that KenCall could be of assistance to the people of Kenya,” said Nicholas Nesbitt.
He continued: “It was a real race against time to get the pieces in place to be able to coordinate so many calls and so many different parties. But the importance of doing it and getting it right first time drove all those involved to succeed, especially KenCall’s staff. We got the whole operation set up in just three days and are continuing to refine it to help more people in need on a daily basis.”
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Anuradha Shukla is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anuradha’s article, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Patrick Barnard