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Setting up a mobile two-way communication system in the world's largest refugee camp

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Created on July 27, 2013 by Anahi.

In August 2011 Internews conducted an assessment in Dadaab on Information needs. In light of the findings of that assessment with regard to mobile phone access in the camps, Internews decided to partner with Souktel to provide the Humanitarian Information Service Project in Dadaab with key mobile technology components to directly communicate with local communities using mobile phones.

Based on Souktel experience and expertise in the region, and in partnering with Star FM, this system will create a customized SMS-based informational alert and survey/opinion polling systems for the HIS.

The SMS systems will be used for a variety of media-integrated service. This will enable, to name a few:

· listeners to "text" in their questions and feedback to the HIS/radio station in real-time;

· for the radio station to send out news updates, informational announcements and emergency alerts to subscribed listeners;

· the radio station will be able to launch surveys of listeners to assess listener satisfaction

· the radio station will be able to run opinion polls of the audience, on everything from content feedback (i.e., "which topics do you want to hear more about? 1 = health services 2 = education services 3 = food distribution 5 = family reunification"), to "plot polling" (i.e., for radio shows that have plot-driven character narratives, you can survey the audience to "help" the character make the right choice - ex. "How should Abdullah react to finding out his wife works outside the home? 1 = he should strike her for not obeying 2 = he should talk to her about how he feels about it 3 = he should make her new boss fire her 4 = he should congratulate her).

All SMS-based interactions with the system (i.e. texting in feedback, responding to surveys and opinion polls) will be the cost of a local SMS for the listener, as Souktel will set up a dedicated local number for the news service.

Souktel will carry out the following connectivity processes for Internews.

a) Negotiation and signature of network gateway contracts and bulk SMS pricing plans with mobile networks and/or third-party mobile network gateway access providers, to enable SMS messaging to/from service users in Kenya via messaging gateway.

b) Connectivity activation, testing, and de-bugging of components described in coordination with mobile networks and/or third-party mobile network gateway access providers.

c) Ongoing purchasing of all outgoing bulk SMS messages, upon request of Internews, in coordination with mobile networks and/or third-party mobile network gateway access providers.

Once it completes each milestone, Souktel will provide all back-end database server hosting for the SMS messaging service and software platform. Souktel will also provide in-person training to Internews staff, and technical support.

We are very excited about this project because we have been trying to work with Souktel for very long time. Knowing and following their projects from the Mali Speaks project to the JobMatch project in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we are very happy to finally be working with them in Dadaab and hopefully expand in other places soon.