South Sudan, a small country, has a population of 12 million people, and poverty affects around 82% of them. Conflict and displacement are among the biggest contributors to this situation. Out of the 12 million citizens, more than 2 million are refugees. This refugee crisis worsens poverty in the country due to limited resource accessibility, challenges in implementing initiatives and overall disorganized communication. In response, organizations are utilizing new technologies to address these issues, providing refugees in South Sudan with the protection and quality of life they deserve through specific communication and health programs.
Fingerprinting, or “biometric registration,” is a widely used tool in refugee camps that provides faster recognition and improved assistance for the most vulnerable individuals. Previously, refugee camps worldwide have included refugees in databases, but now biometric data is being added to these logs in refugee camps in South Sudan. Adding this data enables a more precise allocation of resources and clearer communication regarding individual needs for recovery. Furthermore, the precision allows for follow-ups with particularly vulnerable individuals to ensure ongoing support. This is especially beneficial for the major demographics of the camps, which consist of approximately 70% of women and children who have specific needs, such as pregnant women or malnourished children.
In South Sudan, mapping the biometric data in refugee camps has become an imperative initiative to assist refugees. Workers collect the data and place it in an interactive map, enabling easy visualization of the camp demographics and spatial distribution of individuals. This comprehensive view offers deeper insights into individual households, enabling workers to prioritize assistance for the most vulnerable individuals.
Mapping projects are actively aiding health initiatives in refugee camps, particularly in mitigating the spread of disease. These projects enable the identification of outbreak epicenters, allowing for faster and more precise delivery of aid to those in need. As a result, there is an efficient and effective allocation of resources to minimize waste.
Mapping projects actively contribute to the crucial psychological work conducted in refugee camps to ensure that refugees feel respected, understood and dignified. These projects also foster effective communication by directly gathering information from refugees. Additionally, mapping projects enable the accountability of camp overseers, as refugees can openly discuss service adequacy and concerns. Moreover, they highlight the importance of active participation by refugees in South Sudan, allowing them to become empowered and resilient members of society. By collaborating with those experiencing the greatest hardships, their needs can be fully understood and addressed.
The development of technology in refugee camps in South Sudan has positively impacted communication, fostering connections not only between staff and patrons but also among fellow refugees. Refugee workers have provided cell phones to facilitate easy communication, enabling refugees to access resources, accurate information and individualized assistance. Reports indicate that approximately 91% of refugees in South Sudan now have phone access, highlighting the effectiveness of this approach. Specifically, women in these camps have benefited from cell phone access, experiencing improved communication and peer support, leading to increased confidence, empowerment and stronger relationships within the group, as well as with friends, family and the community. This demonstrates the potential of utilizing mobile phones to address health inequities and promote positive psychosocial outcomes within other marginalized refugee communities.
Technology developed to assist refugees in South Sudan plays a vital role in alleviating the crisis. Governments must fund the continuation and duplication of such programs through foreign aid initiatives to ensure that refugees in South Sudan and globally have access to necessary resources and receive the individual assistance they deserve.
– Ada Rose Wagar