Refugee communities remain extremely vulnerable after fleeing conflict and natural disasters, finding themselves in new contexts with few resources to rebuild their lives. Access to employment and livelihoods is paramount, yet many refugees lack the soft skills and training necessary to find jobs.
This project will reduce barriers to education and soft skills training for displaced youth by targeting youth in Uganda through interactive and engaging ‘choose your own adventure’ style Wanji games. Uganda is the world’s fifth largest refugee population, hosting 1.73 million refugees, with 60% youth under the age of 18, and 83% of youth between 15-24 unemployed. Wanji Games on skills training and employment will be delivered to hundreds of thousands of these youth at the last mile.
These youth are often missed by traditional development interventions, which do not account for lack of access to remote areas and displacement settings, internet access, and electricity. Nor do these interventions acknowledge a lack of literacy, ability to transliterate to one’s spoken language, and limited financial ability to purchase a smartphone or other expensive devices.
Wanji Games provides a solution, by leveraging innovation and appropriate technology to transcend time and space, bringing learning to those who need it most in a way they can access now through a tool most Ugandan refugee youth already have: a basic mobile phone. Wanji makes audio content spoken in local languages available to callers through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. Wanji is free for consumers to access. Wanj provides interactive and engaging gamified narratives, placing listeners in the position of decision-maker and asking them to decide what happens throughout the stories in order to build engagement and enhance learning. An impact experiment by a team of scholars conducted in Cambodia in August 2019 demonstrated Wanji’s ability to increase job-seeking confidence and planning intentions even after a single exposure to Wanji content.
Peripheral Vision International (PVI), the incubator of Wanji Games, has developed expertise in designing games on job training and employability in Cambodia, Uganda, and Rwanda. Wanji is the winner of the 2018 MIT Solve award for Youth, Skills and the Workforce for the Future. Since 2017, Wanji has scaled to 12 countries and received calls from over 1.4 million people.