By Lisa Obradovich
NetHope is thrilled to announce the NetHope 2017 Device Challenge “Gold Star Award” winners: Mercy Corps and The Nature Conservancy. These two organizations were selected to receive an additional $25,000 USD grant on top of the original funding they and 15 other NetHope Device Challenge subgrantees received as part of a $5.5 million donation from Google.org. The award was to recognize their outstanding achievements, impact, and innovation.
Mercy Corps’ Technology for South Sudanese Refugees (Tech4SSR) program is putting mobile devices into the hands of South Sudanese refugees across three settlements in Northern Uganda’s West Nile region providing unfettered access to benefits of mobile money services, visual learning tools and improved settlement management by increasing the speed at which data is turned into action. Mercy Corps has deployed over 15,000 devices to date with 59 percent of direct beneficiaries being female.
"NetHope is an important partner for Mercy Corps in Northern Uganda and we are deeply honored to be a recipient of the Gold Star Award," said Grace Becton, West Nile Uganda Team Leader, Mercy Corps. "This has elevated our work with the private sector to put mobile technology into the hands of South Sudanese refugees. With the resources that accompany this award, Mercy Corps will reach additional refugees with mobile phones, solar charging solutions, as well as improving access to digital learning opportunities for the most vulnerable. Thank you NetHope for your continued work in supporting collaboration and innovation through technology in some of the world's toughest places!"
Through an innovative smartphone application powered by NetHope’s Device Challenge grant, SIGAP, The Nature Conservancy worked with local and national governments and rural communities to develop and enhance civic engagement and forest protection. The project started with several villages in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo and reached over 100,000+ people in 160 villages to provide a methodology to inspire community action to better protect and manage forests, improve livelihoods and encourage village growth. The Nature Conservancy has charted a path to scale up further by introducing SIGAP to 300 villages, helping to improve forest management across 10,117,141 hectares (25 million acres) by 2020.
“The Nature Conservancy is honored to receive NetHope’s Gold Star Award," stated Mark Tercek, Chief Executive Officer of TNC. "With NetHope’s support, we have significantly scaled up the use of smartphone technology to help Indonesian communities more sustainably manage their forests. We are proud to work with NetHope, their partners, and other members to fulfill their mission to change the world through the power of technology and collaboration.”
Rizar Algamar, TNC's Country Program Director for Indonesia noted that, “With funding from the NetHope 2017 Device Challenge, we have leveraged the use of smartphones to expand SIGAP so community agents in more than 160 remote villages can be connected and actively share strategies and ideas about protecting forests from over-logging, palm oil plantation expansion, and other threats."
NetHope looks forward to sharing more detailed overviews on both of these programs along with highlights from the great work our other 15 Device Challenge grantees have been doing in the coming weeks. Congratulations to The Nature Conservancy and Mercy Corps!
NetHope’s Uganda Connectivity program was made possible by support from Airtel, Facebook, Google and USAID.