Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development have announced the launch of a public-private coalition that will mobilize technology solutions and expertise from multiple sectors to transform refugee settlements into digitally connected communities.
Announced during this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the coalition will launch a number of pilot programs during the first half of the year aimed at addressing barriers to development. After Mastercard studied the needs of refugees in the Kakuma and Kolobeyei camps in Kenya for a year, the coalition identified connectivity, digital tools, and energy access as initial areas of focus. To address those needs, members of the coalition will work to create accessible and resilient connectivity platforms that deliver critical information to refugees and host communities and facilitate the efficient management of settlement operations; design and implement an integrated set of tools designed to improve the delivery of cash-based assistance and outreach; and implement energy solutions for refugees and host communities in an efficient, low-cost manner.
Coalition members include Accenture, Acumen, BRCK, the Danish Refugee Council, Energy Peace Partners, Fenix International, GSMA, The Innovation Village, Lutheran World Federation, Mercy Corps, Microsoft, the Moving Energy Initiative, NetHope, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Off-Grid Electric, Pawame, PowerGen Renewable Energy, SolarKiosk, the Tent Foundation, the USAID Global Development Lab, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Vecna Cares Charitable Trusts, and World Vision.
The Tent Foundation's Partnership for Refugees will host the Smart Communities Coalition website, enabling additional companies and public-sector to join the effort and tailor their services to meet refugee and host community needs.
"The Smart Communities Coalition represents the positive shift in how private and public partners are working together to address growing humanitarian needs, especially in refugee settings," said Kevin Jenkins, president and CEO of World Vision International. "As part of the Smart Communities Coalition, World Vision will work with our partners to identify technologies and approaches that will expedite the delivery of services to reduce the vulnerabilities of children and build self-reliance for their families, particularly in fragile and conflict contexts."
(Photo credit: UNHCR/Tobin Jones)