About the Community Connectivity Fund:

UNHCR’s Innovation Service is pleased to launch the second Community Connectivity Fund which provides resources to UNHCR’s operations to test and strengthen Connectivity for Refugees initiatives. The Innovation Service welcomes applications using the form below from interested UNHCR operations by midnight 12th May.

This year’s Community Connectivity Fund builds on our learning from the first funding round which was launched in 2018 – and focuses on self-reliance as one of the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees.

Refugees should be included as active members of the communities that host them. When refugees gain access to education and labour markets, they can build their skills and become self-reliant, contributing to local economies and fuelling the development of the communities hosting them. Allowing refugees to benefit from national services and integrating them into national development plans is essential. This includes ensuring that forcibly displaced people have the right and choice to be part of a connected society, possessing the right skills and with access to digital technologies. Connectivity can play a critical role in self-reliance by supporting refugees to build better futures for themselves and their community.

However, there are many barriers that forcibly displaced people face when joining a connected society – regulatory and legal barriers, lack of access to devices and services, and significant digital divides. Under the Connectivity for Refugees initiative, UNHCR has been experimenting with different modalities to sustainably address these significant challenges. From initial experiments, we have seen early promise in initiatives which engage multiple and diverse stakeholders, from mobile network operators and technology companies in the corporate sector, regulatory bodies, academia and civil society partners.

It is this ‘whole-of-society’ approach that we would like to test, iterate and learn from through this second round of the Community Connectivity Fund. Here are examples of multi-stakeholder approaches from Tanzania and Uganda.

Selection Criteria

Supported initiatives will demonstrate the following:

  • An initiative that fits within an operation’s Connectivity for Refugees strategy, or supports the design and implementation of such a strategy based on mapped connectivity needs;
  • An initiative that builds and/or strengthens multi-stakeholder partnerships – particularly with governments and national strategies for digital access –  to address connectivity challenges by leveraging different expertise and capacities across these partnerships (these can range from formalized partnerships through to ad hoc working/advisory groups);
  • Initiatives that seek to address sustainability challenges which often result from short-term infrastructure provision and/or lack of local ownership;
  • Initiatives which – inline with the Global Compact on Refugees – promote self-reliance;
  • An initiative that has inbuilt mechanisms to enable iteration, learning and documentation; and
  • An initiative that demonstrates willingness to engage in organizational knowledge sharing;
  • Initiatives should demonstrate participation of Persons of Concern (PoCs) in the identification of needs, design process and planned engagement in implementation, monitoring, iteration and documentation.

What we’re not able to support:

  • Repeat funding for ongoing connectivity initiatives (unless these are being significantly iterated/adapted due to learning and fulfil the criteria above);
  • Initiatives that seek to implement tried and tested connectivity solutions, for example connected community centres (unless these are significantly adapted to new contexts/operational environments);
  • Initiatives which are not testing a new approach or methodology to address sustainability challenges;
  • Initiatives which don’t leverage multi-stakeholder capacities.

The Process + Timeline

  • Application launch: 26 April
  • Application deadline: 12 May
  • Shortlisting: 13-17 May
  • Consultation with shortlisted operations: 31 May
  • Successful operations informed: 1st week of June  

Support from the Innovation Service:

  • Assistance brokering new relationships with MNOs and Telecommunications Regulators
  • Access to global partners such as technology companies and INGOs partners who can support with implementation
  • Guidance on strategy design and implementation
  • Monitoring, evaluation and documentation
  • Facilitating cross organizational knowledge-sharing
  • Internal and external communications on the initiative

A Terms of Use agreement will be finalised with each successful operation this will stipulate the anticipated milestones for implementation and expenditure as well as documentation requirements.

We will not be able to consider applications received after 12th May, midnight.

The Objectives

To test and learn from different modalities which seek to engage multiple, diverse stakeholders in addressing one or more barriers facing forcibly displaced people and their participation in a connected society.

The fund is a flexible resource funded by The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and managed by the Innovation Service. Successful applicants to the Connectivity Fund are able to draw down on this fund – spending against the Innovation Service’s cost centre.

A total of 250,000 USD is available under The Connectivity Fund, with full expenditure expected by 31st December 2019. Initiatives in multiple operations across different regions will be resourced; therefore applications for the full funding tranche are unlikely to be successful.

Only one application per operation will be considered.

The Community Connectivity Fund is possible thanks to a generous donation from The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.