Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise, partnered with the BOSCO Uganda Relief Project (Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach)to provide access to computers, internet, and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) telephony for Northern Uganda's internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. The project has set up a solar-powered WiFi network in refugee camps to offer communications to the organisations that serve the IDPs and the refugees. In its first phase (as of 2007), the project serves nearly 100,000 refugees fleeing the Lord's Resistance Army which has raged a civil war in the area since the late 1980's.
Communication Strategies: 

Inveneo deployed and installed a local-area network, conceived and designed by the BOSCO project, using long-range WiFi networking devices, ultra low-power computers, and VoIP telephony for Caritas and Catholic Charities and the isolated IDP-camp communities they serve. The Inveneo network is powered via solar panels which power battery arrays. Internet connectivity is carried from the city of Gulu, where two Archdioceses offices are located, via the Inveneo WiFi network to the seven IDP camps up to 70 kilometres away. The system is designed to be operable on 12 volts with a range of power options, and is resistant to heat, humidity, and dust, so that it can operate in environments where computing has traditionally not been found. It has been designed for ease of use for both users and administrators who are new to technology.

This allows the Diocese serving the IDP camps to be more efficient in its support of the people with the ability to communicate immediately with other offices in the camps as well as other funding organisations in the United States and Europe. "Inveneo is dedicated to helping to improve people's lives through ICT solutions that help to connect them to the world around them. ICT relieves their isolation and opens opportunities," said Mark Summer, CEO of Inveneo. "It can provide the ability for people to call the clinic when there's been an accident, it can enable camp teachers to access better teaching tools on the Internet, and it can simply provide much greater ability to perform day-to-day logistics for the Catholic organisations."

The organisers believe the project has the potential for communications to transform daily activities in the camps, where there are few phones and no power. This first phase of the project connects eight Archdiocese offices, two clinics, and 17 schools. The network is used for all types of communications needs, including logistics, emergency notification, teacher training, consultations between clinics and doctors, communicating with American and European donors, and getting out critical information on human rights violations.

Development Issues: 

Conflict, Emergency, Rights, Technology.

Key Points: 

The goal of the project is to give IDP, especially the children, a voice. The technology hopes to link these people to the outside world and allow them to become their own advocates.

Inveneo is a non-profit social enterprise whose mission is to get the tools of information and communications technology into the hands of organisations and people who need them most - those in remote and rural communities in the developing world. To date, Inveneo has 20 projects completed or underway in Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Mali, Guinea Bissau, and Burkina Faso. These projects serve schools (50%), economic development groups, telecentres, and relief camps in 66 communities.

The BOSCO Relief Project plans to extend to 60 IDP camps in Northern Uganda within three years. These 60 camps (of the 104 camps in total) will become trading centres after the conflict ends and the people are able to return to their homes.

Partner Text: 

Inveneo, BOSCO, Navitor Systems.

Source: 

BOSCO website; Inveneo website; the Cellular News website, June 21 2007; and email from Kristin Peterson, Inveneo, January 21 2008.