Uganda is hosting the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world and is currently home to over 1.4 million refugees. Although Uganda has among the most progressive refugee policies globally, access to information and communication channels remain a significant challenge. This is mainly due to lack of computer literacy and high internet costs; the Inclusive Internet Index, commissioned by Facebook and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, ranks Uganda 75th out of 83 countries in terms of Internet inclusion.
Without access to up-to-date information on the situation back in their home countries and in their countries of asylum, refugees cannot make informed choices about how to improve their lives, or access basic services for health and education. Lack of connectivity constrains the capacity of refugee communities to organise and empower themselves, thus limiting potential for self-reliance and livelihood. Living unconnected also means that making contact and sustaining communication with loved ones is difficult and often impossible.
To help overcome the above mentioned challenges YARID, a refugee-led organisation based in Kampala, is in the process of setting up an “Internet Hub” in the heart of their Kampala community. This programme will enable refugees to become digital citizens by signing up for basic computer skill classes that are run by an experienced ICT teacher. In these classes students will learn how to use computers and the Internet in a safe and appropriate way.
The space used for computer classes will also function as an Internet cafe, allowing it to be operated as a social enterprise. For a small fee, anyone will be able to access the computers, the Internet and the printer and scanner. The Internet Cafe will offer supplementary intermediate and advanced computer and Internet workshops for a further fee. The money earned will go back into the programme, paying for the staff, computer maintenance and equipment. By Year 4 we expect the Internet Hub to be self-sustaining from the revenue the Internet Cafe is generating.
On top of this, a Digital Database of Refugee Services will be an online file available at the hub. It will hold contact details and information for appropriate people and services that refugees are likely to require, such as lawyers, translators, health providers and community groups.
We ask for your help to set up this sustainable programme that will empower refugees to make informed decisions and develop valuable and necessary skills.