Why our approach
Aruabits providesinnovative mobile internet connectivity solutions for unconnected rural refugees & hosting communities of West Nile sub-region of Uganda.
Over the last five years Uganda saw a huge influx of refugees escaping conflict and famine from its neighboring countries, doubling Uganda’s refugee population tooveran estimated 1.3 million; over 1,000,000 of whom are South Sudanese (Source: UNHCR, June 2018). Majority of the refugees are settled in West Nile gazetted camps specifically in the Districts of Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe and Arua.These areas are "hard to reach" & lackedmobile internet coverage which potentially leaves out refugees’ youth and hosting communities from the dividends of digitization.
Besides, the huge refugee influx has placed an enormous strain on the already stressed ability of Local Governments (LGs), Office of the Prime Minister and UN Refugee Agencies, making focus on life saving matters like Health, Food and Education a priority hencedigitization as integral part of modern service delivery for refugees and hosting communitieslacked attention due to the competing priorities.These has unfairly left out refugees and hosting communities from interacting with technology discriminating them from accessing timely resource information, communicating with family, training and innovation.
To this end Aruabits designed a need based internet & digital literacy program with refugees youth through exploration lab sessions which led to the identification of technological intervention strategies and piloting of social internet technology access center where young people in refugee settlements and hosting communities can access internet, digital literacy training and become included in the development agendas of host communities.
What we do
- We piloted and operate a low cost social mobile internet technology operation center that has 25 computers connected to internet serving young refugees and hosting communities during piloting phase. We have so far reached to 850 refugee youth in Arua Districts.
- We provide digital literacy training for refugees and host communities. We have trained 500 girls to date.
- We provide mobile internet hot spots for smart phone users to access internet at community center.
We have tested our strategy, validated, proved concept and got impressive results which needed scaling so that more refugees and hosting communities get connected. We discovered that young people are more responsive to technology which helps them to dialogue and mitigate conflicts. They get to learn and understand the socio-economic environment of Uganda in way of doing business, socialization.
For this to happen enhancing our technology capacity to scale and deliver the below strategies in a humanitarian crisis West Nile region of Uganda is very important ;
- Deployment of ready to use (turnkey solutions)robust and low cost internet hot spot stations (network masts) that connects to the providers’ core network providing a wider coverage radius and serving over 50,000 refugees and hosting communities in Bidibidi.The base station will provide 3 & 4 G service of broadband installed with a more robust network gateways interconnected to the service providers broadband systems. The Base station (network mast) will be powered with renewable energy to provide a 24 hours uninterrupted internet access to refugee and hosting communities because this areas do not have grid connections.
- To set up 3 more mobile internet access points, installed with modern low power consuming computersin a prefabricated containers to increase access to internet and digital literacy training for refugees and hosting communities. The 3 mobile internet access points will be strategicallylocated & amplified for schools, youth groups to tap from wireless routers internet.
- To implement testeddigital literacy curriculum for girls and women in the refugee settlement and hosting communities.
- To Conduct action research and learning to improve delivery ofdigitizationprograms for refugees and hosting communities.
Our digital technology access solution is designed from the perspective of the SDGs & human rights-based approach because it aims at including migrants, discriminated gender and hard to reach communities into digitization agenda. We target groups like refugees, girls & women from refugee hosting communities. The intervention tackles this gender inequality by providing girls & women access digital literacy training so that they can use broadband internet to communicate, access information and participate in e-commerce activities.
By ensuring refugees, women and girls access digital literacy skills and get connected on broadband internet reduces the digital inequality gap that exists among women, refugees and accordingly increases their chances of being integrated into the digital market, where they can equally enjoy the dividends of digitization.