August 2011 - March 2013
Total: 100% Personnel: 26% Technology: 64% Other: 10%
View a short video on the impact of DadaabNet, please access this link.
In 2011, a devastating drought and famine in the Horn of Africa and armed conflict in East Africa caused a dramatic rise of new refugees flowing into the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. With over 500,000 individuals seeking refuge in a camp originally designed to hold only 90,000 people, U.N. agencies and humanitarian organizations had to drastically increase their operations. As such, Dadaab's internet service capacity was no longer sufficient for the growing population, and the need for improved internet connectivity was significant. Utilizing funding from Cisco, USAID, Microsoft and others, NetHope and networking partners Cisco Systems and Inveneo developed DadaabNet, an innovative approach that brought affordable and reliable internet connectivity to Dadaab, including the construction of an infrastructure network throughout the refugee camp.
DadaabNet has become the established tool for NGO collaboration among the 23 agencies in Dadaab refugee camp, and has provided refugees with access to one another and to the outside world. With a reliable internet connection, people living and working inside the Dadaab camp are now able to learn basic ICT skills, utilize email and social media accounts to connect with friends and loved ones, access online education, and get news updates from their home countries. In Dadaab, internet access represents hope—a window to the external world for thousands.
The NetHope-led collaboration between government and non-government agencies, leading tech companies, and the local community illustrates that cross-sector partnerships can result in sustainable new businesses models. The project has the necessary elements to show how to bring high-speed broadband connectivity and value-added services to scale in resource-strapped, underserved rural communities. DadaabNet‘s green energy ecosystem approach is ideal in areas where both sun and wind are viable power sources and where both humanitarian organizations as well as the local population are in great need of better-quality, cost-effective communication solutions.
In early 2011, The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa, causing thousands to seek refuge in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Additionally, armed conflict in East Africa forced refugees from Somalia to Dadaab by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex the world’s largest refugee camp ever, with almost 500,000 refugees counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered. In addition, al-Shabaab, the Somali-based terrorist organization, escalated activities in and around the camps.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was the lead agency responding to the crisis, along with World Food Program, UNICEF and other NGOs including CARE, Save the Children, Kenya Red Cross, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, and Norwegian Refugee Council. These agencies provided critical life-sustaining service, such as food distribution, housing, sanitation, and medical relief to those in Dadaab. However, the large influx of new refugees had placed immense strain on the organizations, stretching the teams and their capacities to the limit.
The lack of reliable and affordable connectivity was a major challenge, as it severely hampered the ability of relief agencies and UNHCR to operate efficiently and expediently. Operations were stressed to the limit, and this had a direct impact on refugees’ lives and livelihoods. More than a dozen separate relief agencies relied on their own VSAT systems, which were slow, costly, and difficult to maintain. The Dadaab Connect project aimed to provide incremental, coordinated, reliable, and affordable internet access to Dadaab to assist the U.N. and NGO communities in increasing staff productivity, especially in delivering essential food, housing, and medical services, and that it would lead to better overall coordination, security and communications.
In August 2011, USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance (GBI) asked NetHope to develop a connectivity solution to address the immediate needs and attract local service providers to ensure sustainability and scalability. Utilizing funding from Cisco, USAID, Microsoft and others, NetHope and networking partners Cisco Systems and Inveneo developed an innovative approach to bring affordable and reliable Internet connectivity to Dadaab and build an infrastructure network throughout the refugee camp. In March 2012, NetHope and Inveneo secured a commitment from Cisco Tactical Operations to donate equipment, as well as funding commitments from USAID, Microsoft and UNHCR.
Three major achievements:
The following functions were undertaken by the respective project partners:
USAID’s GBI, Microsoft, Cisco, UNHCR, Craig Newmark Foundation and the Orr Foundation.
NetHope assessed the potential of bringing more accessible and affordable connectivity for U.N. agencies and NGOs operating in Daadab, and invited Inveneo and Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps) to help identify opportunities to bring better, more reliable internet, and interagency communications to the camp.
NetHope worked with two local Kenyan service providers, Orange and SetRight, to develop discount pricing and capacity commitments for Dadaab, and later in the project, with Safaricom to ensure a multi-service provider ecosystem for internet connectivity service delivery.
Cisco co-designed the network architecture with Inveneo.
NetHope and Inveneo secured the commitment from Cisco to donate equipment.
Orange hosted an Inveneo-led classroom training session in Nairobi with hands-on instruction on long distance Wi-Fi. Inveneo offered a curriculum in both network design and installation, as well as tower safety instruction to prequalified Orange and Dadaab-based NGO technical staff. Cisco provided training for the local DadaabNet team.
Installation and Implementation:
NetHope, Inveneo, SetRight and Cisco’s local gold partner, Dimension Data, worked together to complete the Orange and UNHCR tower installations. Dimension Data also met with IT staff at the installation sites, consulting with Cisco-led TacOps engineers, training local staff, and completing the initial router configurations. Additionally, International Procurement Agency, International Rescue Committee, Inveneo, Norwegian Refugee Council, Safaricom, SetRight, Smoothtel & Data Solutions Ltd., UNHCR, and WFP were all critical in connecting the network to the community via “YEP” centers providing refugee youth educational programs. NRC also provided value-added network engineering support, and identified and connected five Dadaab community centers.
Project Management and Monitoring and Evaluation:
NetHope, Cisco, and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) are currently working with the USAID GBI team to measure and determine lasting impact in the community, so that the project value can be evaluated over the next two years. Many other organizations provided essential project support through participation on the DadaabNet team or procurement of new services as well. In particular, UNHCR and the World Food Program offered notable contributions through the provision of Dadaab hosting, logistical equipment, and management support.
DadaabNet was supported by both local service providers Orange and Safaricom. With support from local technology experts, these two Kenyan telecommunications companies were enlisted as full partners early on in the project. Orange became a new terrestrial provider and partner in Dadaab and worked with Cisco and Inveneo in developing a new DadaabNet broadband service. Orange also partnered with NetHope to provide new capacity, enabling local competition and fostering improvement in prices and services overall, thus enhancing network capabilities in support of long-term sustainability and reliability.
Aid organizations operating in Dadaab have been empowered through contributions made by the above players, including: CARE, Catholic Relief Services, International Organization for Migration, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Kenya Red Cross, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children, UNICEF, and others.
Based on a request from the USAID GBI Chief of Party, NetHope sent its Connectivity and Emergency Response directors, Joe Simmons and Gisli Olafsson to Dadaab to explore the potential to improve and reduce the cost of connectivity for the U.N. and NGOs operating in the region. Cisco and Inveneo provided skills for the design and implementation of the network distributing internet access throughout the camp.
Primary goals for DadaabNet
In March 2012, Cisco and Inveneo designed and implemented DadaabNet, a high-speed local area network, along with integrated affordable terrestrial Internet services and VSAT failover configurations.
Primary goals for Phase I:
Phase II was a partnership between NetHope, USAID, Cisco, and Norwegian Refugee Council, with local engineering support from Dimension Data, SetRight, International Rescue Committee (Ubiquiti training), and the DadaabNet team.
Primary goals for Phase II:
Phase III focused on renewable green power in a location where both sun and wind are viable power sources. DadaabNet provides an ideal opportunity to pilot green energy solutions being incubated in USAID science and technology programs as well as those being evaluated by the Kenya Mission.
From 2017 Status report from NRC/DRC/IR and M&E Framework provided by USAID:
DadaabNet has enabled 23 local relief agencies to collaborate, share information, and deliver aid more effectively. Key enablers include:
DadaabNet is already helping humanitarian agencies operating in Dadaab to function better, to communicate between each other, and to support overall operations. Additionally, the DadaabNet team has taken full ownership of the networks, and all future troubleshooting, support, and installations will be managed frontline by the local DadaabNet team. By the same count, Dimension Data, working with Cisco TacOps, successfully implemented and tested routing at all 10 newly installed locations and ensured a good hand-off to the DadaabNet team.
From May 2017 Report - facts on implementation of DadaabNet:
Observations on bandwidth:
Observations on communication medium
Observations on cost
Observations on IT system
The initial bandwidth contracted was fully installed. Orange intends to add bandwidth to keep pace with demand and to meet new service order expectations.
Some agencies are now purchasing bandwidth from multiple Kenyan service providers, who, based on NetHope negotiations, now offer reliable, highly discounted and competitively priced services to Dadaab-based agencies. They also have plans to move costlier VSAT systems to failover mode. As the new network architecture is tried and proven to be more reliable and cost-effective, it will be extended to the general population via sustainable outreach community centers that support learning, resettlement, and economic empowerment.
NetHope, Inveneo, Cisco, and Orange will continue to grow their partnership and collaboration so that there will be ever-increasing opportunities to extend the broadband across rural Kenya and beyond.
The third phase (not funded by USAID) will focus on renewable green power in a location where both sun and wind are viable power sources. DadaabNet provides an ideal opportunity to pilot green energy solutions being incubated in USAID science and technology programs as well as those being evaluated by the Kenya Mission.
The Inveneo, Cisco, and NetHope partnership, fortified and proven successful during earlier collaborations in Haiti and elsewhere, is now expanding to embrace a broader alliance with USAID, UNHCR, WFP, Microsoft, and others.