How to turn refugee camps into smart cities
for Private Sector Engagement on the Global Refugee Crisis, led to the development of a “Smart Community” model for refugee settlements.
By studying the needs of a particular refugee ecosystem and examining how interconnected aspects of its daily life are, from education to health to financial services, we can propose meaningful technology solutions. As a result, new payment, transaction, and data tools can be implemented to improve the delivery of essential services, whether provided by the private sector or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
In order to facilitate the growth of “Smart Communities,” we need a cross-sector group of organisations to step up. Private companies, civil society, government agencies, and financiers committed to advancing technology for the common good should come together to identify models that:
Empower refugees through new economic growth opportunities
Provide greater value for host communities and countries
Enable United Nations agencies and NGOs to manage the refugee response with increased efficiencies, stretching their funding for greater impact
Efforts could focus on a country like Uganda, whose refugee population increased by 68% to over 1.3 million in the last year. While the government maintains an open-door policy that gives refugees the right to work, a plot of land and access to health and education, among other benefits, significant resource gaps impede progress. Despite the best efforts of public and private humanitarian and development actors to provide support, the needs of the refugee population continue to grow.
Since the world’s wealthier cities recognise the value of technology and data to manage operations and advance inclusive growth for their own citizens, why not use such tools in refugee settlements, whose needs are arguably greater?
Working together, we can deliver solutions to impact the lives of thousands of refugees and host community members, with the potential to replicate and scale to reach millions. Now is the time to re-imagine the refugee camp. Let’s restore dignity and economic resilience to those who have already lost so much.
This article was originally published on weforum.org Tara Nathan executive vice president of Government and Development, Mastercard
COMPLEX: An extension to the world’s largest refugee camp complex in Dadaab, Kenya. The photograph is part of the exhibit “Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter”, in New York.