UNHCR: Community Technology Access (CTA)

Community Technology Access

The Community Technology Access (CTA) program provides refugees with access to ICT skills, equipment and technical support in rural, camp-based settings and hosting communities.

Often, an entire generation is raised in the camps, but access to education opportunities is extremely limited, even for primary education and there is minimal access to books and updated information. Many refugees have never even seen a computer. And because the prospects for repatriation are almost non-existent, these refugees need to acquire skills to facilitate local integration, rebuild their finances and eventually become self-reliant.

To address these needs, the CTA program provides for the camps computer labs for the camps, low-cost Internet connectivity, low power dust resistant hardware and training for teachers and IT administrators who are refugees themselves. Microsoft provides access to Windows software, as well as training curriculum such as the Digital Literacy Curriculum. As refugee camps are often located in remote areas with little or no access to electricity or Internet connectivity, innovative solutions were needed to ensure the CTA centers are able to operate in these difficult conditions. For instance, to overcome issues around access to electricity, the labs rely on solar power. Meanwhile, to overcome connectivity challenges, some camps have used long distance WiFi to connect to a regional provider.

After three successful pilot programs at UNHCR camps in Rwanda's Kibiza camp and Bangladesh's Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, UNHCR and Microsoft began expanding the program globally. At the end of 2010, there were 32 centers operating in 12 countries.