Two forward-thinking and impact-focused startups, BuffaloGrid and Techfugees, have joined forces to launch the Knowledge Is Freedom campaign to bring free education and energy to over a million refugees living in camps worldwide. BuffaloGrid is a startup that makes phone charging and digital content available to people in locations that are not connected to the grid. It does this primarily through its solar-powered BuffaloGrid Hub. Techfugees is a non-profit organization set up to empower and support displaced persons by building scalable, ethical and sustainable tech tools with and for them.
The global displacement of people is a huge and urgent issue for humanity. It is estimated that around 80 million people have been forced to leave their homes due to climate change, conflicts or economic challenges. Of these 80 million people, half are under 18 years old. Most displaced people live in refugee camps with limited access to energy, technology and educational opportunities. This campaign from BuffaloGrid and Techfugees aims to play a part in alleviating some of the difficulties that displaced people face.
The Knowledge Is Power campaign will see deployment of solar-powered BuffaloGrid Hubs in refugee camps in the Middle East and East Africa. To begin with, the hubs will be placed in refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda and will provide the people in these camps with free access to education and health content plus streaming services. The hubs will also provide free solar-powered charging for phones and other devices.
In a statement, Raj Burman, Chief Executive Officer at Techfugees Innovation, highlighted the extent of the problem: “In an increasingly digital and climate change stricken world, our mission is to make sure forcibly displaced people don’t get left behind. Around 400,000 marginalised refugees reside in the Rwamwanja and Kakuma-Kalobeyei settlements camp in Uganda and Kenya respectively,” he said.
Burman then went on to expand on the impact that the partnership will have. “Our collaboration with BuffaloGrid presents a unique opportunity for an innovative responsible digital solution to empower displaced communities with the support of our Chapters in Kenya and Uganda to overcome the access barriers to education and health content to better their livelihoods. Our teams on the ground engage displaced communities and are currently sourcing content partners to facilitate deployment of BuffaloGrid hubs for the initial pilot.”
BuffaloGrid’s CEO, Daniel Becerra, echoed Burman’s sentiments and explained the organization’s motivations. “Our mission is to remove barriers for internet adoption and provide the next billion with information, energy and digital skills. I hope this campaign will raise awareness of the plight of displaced people and how collectively we have the power to change things. The entire team is excited to work with Techfugees. I believe together we have the technical expertise, experience and connections to make a real difference.”
The number of displaced people worldwide is only going to increase. The World Bank estimates that 143 million people will be displaced by climate change alone by 2050. This makes campaigns such as ‘Knowledge Is Power’ even more vital and necessary.