Community Technology Access
Computer Gateways to Self-Suffiency
In 2009, UNHCR launched a special programme to give refugees and internally displaced people access to computers in a bid to open up education and livelihood opportunities, especially for women and girls. The Community Technology Access (CTA) project, backed by key UNHCR corporate partners Microsoft and PricewaterhouseCoopers, was piloted in Rwanda and Bangladesh.
The CTA programme has been steadily growing and there are now 31 computer centres in 13 countries - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kenya, Mauritania, Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and Yemen - and more are planned. As a promoter of renewable energy sources, UNHCR provides solar power at CTA sites in some of the remoter regions.
The centres offer formal education; basic digital literacy training and certification; long-distance learning programmes; life skills; vocational and technical skills training; and assistance with CV creation and job searches. They also allow refugees to keep in touch with family through the internet and conduct online discussions with fellow refugees and members of the local community.
The CTA project will maximize the role that refugees play in the delivery of information and communications technologies, or ICT. This includes training refugees and members of host communities to become managers of CTA facilities, maintenance and repair technicians, and teachers.
UNHCR believes that providing access to technology, particularly in remote areas, can help restore some of the stability these people knew before they were forced to flee their homes.
Microsoft provides expert advice for the project as well as software, while information technology company HP provides computers and other hardware. PricewaterhouseCoopers donates pro bono staff time and advises on project management. The Motorola Foundation has given funding for the running of the CTA centres in Rwanda and Bangladesh, while Australia for UNHCR contributed towards the CTA in Uganda. The centre in Kenya's Kakuma camp is being funded with a donation from Morneau Shepell of Canada.
The CTA business model is founded on the principle of long-term operational and financial sustainability wherever conditions are conducive to income-generating activities. UNHCR and its corporate partners aim to implement a global programme that is sustainable, replicable and scalable; one that will advance the education, employment and empowerment of refugees.