We can finally announce news of our latest project with USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. During a time when humanitarian needs continue to grow globally, USAID recognizes the importance of supporting diaspora-led innovations that bring in new voices, skills, and abilities to save and improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people

“Business As Usual’ just doesn’t cut it in today’s connected world. Faced with increased crises globally, institutional humanitarian systems have not adjusted to this changing world. THAT is what makes this project even more exciting and pioneering. This project is set to test and incubate new approaches to aid pioneer transformational humanitarian action through a combination of technology and old-fashioned knowledge.”

Bashàïr Ahmed, Shabaka CEO. 

#technology #digitaldiasporas #project #poweringupdiaspora

About Switchboard

Switchboard is a pilot and innovative project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Shabaka, a values-driven, diaspora-led consulting and research organisation focused on diaspora humanitarian preparedness, and response. Switchboard is a project designed by and for the diaspora.

Using technology, it aims to facilitate connections among different generations and networks of diaspora actors to encourage knowledge exchange between communities and generations and produce new ideas related to humanitarian action.

Its main objectives are to :

  1. Improve the reach and impact of diaspora humanitarianism through the development of an innovative Switchboard, which will include a mobile application and a dedicated microsite with different content 

  2. Increase and sustain knowledge and access to education on diaspora humanitarian engagement, especially for 1.5 and 2nd generation diaspora  

  3. Strengthen diaspora networks, bridging generational divides, to improve capacity and action in response to humanitarian crises 

It is designed to become a resource hub full of practical advice for diaspora organisations and individuals involved or interested in humanitarian response, a first port of call for diaspora actors who would like to learn more, contribute or act within humanitarian contexts. This hub will also share cultural resources to remind first generations of home, even in the most challenging times during crises, and to encourage younger generations to (re)discover their familial countries of heritage.

This pilot focuses on three countries: Haiti, Sudan, and Syria, whose diasporas have been active in mounting a humanitarian response to recurrent crises, over generations.

This project is being implemented with partner organisations from these diasporas, namely Governance Programming Overseas (GPO), Haiti Renewal Alliance (HRA), The Syrian Charities & Associations Network in the UK (SCAN UK), and American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS) to collect vital insights on their needs when responding to humanitarian crises.

Youth Consultations

The youth consultation activity is a series of three online consultations initiated to bring youth together, learn from them and collaboratively identify priorities, triggers and links that can inform how they relate to their countries of origin, especially Syria, Sudan and Haiti, and evaluate their interest in humanitarian action.

Additionally, these consultations will provide a diverse, participatory, and safe space for youth from the targeted diaspora to share perspectives on the Switchboard project, which will feed into the next phases of the project, and especially the hackathon.

Beyond the project, we aim to create a community of young practitioners, keen to improve diaspora humanitarianism and act as a youth committee for the Switchboard and future activities.
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