Lots of UN techie news in the past days, I am just starting to catch up now.
My name is Mohammed Sokor, writing to you from Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab. Dear Sir, there is an alarming issue here. People are given too few kilograms of food. You must help.
The press release details Mr. Sokor’s plight as one of 230,000 Somali and Sudanese refugees in East Kenya who can not return home where this is only famine and civil war and yet can not eke out a living in Kenya’s brutal desert. Mr. Sokor volunteers as a school teacher, with with one of the aid agencies.
How he got into possession of a cell phone is another obvious question. The release simply notes that
one of the great ironies of modern Africa is that mobile phones are not seen as a luxury, but a necessity. They are often cheap and used far more widely than most would imagine. For traders, they are the primary tool of commerce and for the many millions — like Mohammed — who make up the African diaspora, they are the thread that binds scattered communities together.
The story concludes wondering what would happen if along with food aid the humanitarian workers gave out cell phones to the refugees. The story concludes that “humble SMS text messages from refugees could become an effective SOS for millions whose voices are so rarely heard.”
If only that were true.