Duty Station: Amman, Jordan
I’m addressing the challenge of how to sustain a two-way communication between UNHCR and refugees without facing the challenge of “losing contact”.
Contact is lost and communication stops when refugees change their phone numbers – mostly because a number expires, as they cannot purchase credit. Contact is also lost when refugees leave their last known address, which happens when families move locations to live with their relatives or to pursue work opportunities. , and many other reasons. UNHCR thus loses contact with at least 500 families every month. Many of them are cash assistance beneficiaries or families who have been selected to receive assistance for the first time; they may be eligibile for health services, or a resettlement interview has been scheduled.
In such cases, UNHCR will not be able to contact them easily and only in rare cases manages to recover their contact details by strenuous and time-consuming outreach efforts. SMS service announcements and mass information campaigns will equally not reach them any longer.
UNHCR has developed a product – called the “UNHCR SIM” – which will have an emergency call or emergency SMS function that will work irrespective of whether credit is on the phone or not. I will leverage this product in order to enhance and stabilize a two-way communication between UNHCR and refugees by integrating it with other services and frameworks, including but not limited to referral systems.