Photo: Colombia and Venezuela

Connectivity for the Venezuelan Migrants — Because Information is Important

Posted on December 12, 2019 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation & NetHope
In August 2019, TPF invested $75,000 to support the building of Wi-Fi hotspots along the route traveled by Venezuelan migrants. (TPF’s interest and reasoning is similar to when it funded Wi-Fi hotspots for the Syrian refugees.)

TPF funds this work by supporting NetHope. NetHope and its members have become experts in creating and rebuilding information connectivity channels so that people can communicate. In the case of displaced Venezuelans, the ability to have internet access along the migration route allows family and friends to remain in touch, provide advice and guidance, and to seek important information.

The Patterson Foundation recently asked NetHope to provide an update of its impressive work:
  • 250+ sites identified in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil that require connectivity services since 2018
  • 95 sites have been connected in Colombia since Dec 2018
  • To date, there are 150,000 unique users on the networks (mostly migrants, some humanitarians)
  • Those 95 sites are supported locally by in-kind Swedish government technical staff (MSB) and local hires
  • NetHope recently signed an agreement with UNHCR where they will provide funding for NetHope to connect and maintain 85 additional sites in Colombia and Peru (2019-2020)
  • 12 sites (9 Colombia and 3 Peru) will be installed by the end of 2019 as an initial pilot.
  • The 73 remaining sites will be installed during 2020 (60 Colombia and 13 Peru)
  • NetHope plans to have installed 200 sites in Colombia, Peru, and Brazil by the end of 2020 (including UNHCR sites)
  • We are also working with members to potentially provide additional services (i.e., financial, information as aid, education, etc.) to migrants on top of the connectivity
  • We are developing sustainability models to ensure long-term funding to maintain these connectivity services for the migrants and host communities
  • Our funding appeal is progressing with additional private sector partners interested in contributing in-kind, staff, and money

We can’t fathom the difficulty the people exiting Venezuela face, but we can be slightly comforted in knowing many more now can communicate with each other than before.

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