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Improving access to information for Rohingya refugees - Bangladesh

In June 2018, Fondation Hirondelle started a new project in Bangladesh, in the Rohingya refugee camp of Jamtoli. The project’s objective is to improve refugees' access to basic information for their daily lives, and to share their feedback with humanitarian organizations working in this camp. The first phase of this project is funded by Swiss Solidarity, and implemented in partnership with humanitarian organizations working in that camp, including Christian Aid and HEKS.

According to the United Nations, more than 720,000 people of the Rohingya Muslim minority have fled the state of Rakhine in northwestern Myanmar since September 2017. Witnesses report scenes of unparalleled violence and destruction. Many refugees have been injured or severely traumatized by the separation of their families. Exhausted by their journey, they arrive on the other side of the border, in Bangladesh, in host camps completely overcrowded with very basic shelters, polluted water, and significant risks of disease.

This massive influx of people has put major strains on local resources and has required a large-scale humanitarian response which is sometimes lacking effectiveness in communicating with affected populations. Timely and credible information in crisis situations can be the difference between life and death by helping people make good decisions, dispelling rumors, and calming tensions. Receiving feedback from affected populations also plays a key role for humanitarian actors in better defining priorities and relief efforts and mitigating tensions.

In partnership with Christian Aid and HEKS/EPER, two humanitarian organizations working in the Jamtoli camp, Fondation Hirondelle’s project aims to improve the access to important and practical information for the more than 50,000 people living in the camp, and to improve access to information about the refugees’ needs and the situation in the camp for the humanitarian organizations active there.

The project includes the production of a daily audio program by a small group of refugees with oversight and support by a Fondation Hirondelle producer. The program offers information on camp life and awareness messages from Christian Aid, HEKS/EPER and other NGOs present in the camp and short stories on camp social life. The broadcasting of the audio program is implemented through a narrowcasting network of loudspeakers set up in places where the population gathers, including community cooking spaces. To ensure feedback from affected populations and increased accountability, the project also includes the compilation of important information from audio program content from refugees, shared with camp managers and other humanitarian actors. The project lastly seeks to contribute to greater learning around providing access to information in refugee camp settings and rapid-onset emergencies.

Objectives

  • Improved access to important and practical information on camp life, awareness messages, and social life in the camps for refugees in the Jamtoli camp.
  • Improved access to information on refugees’ needs and the situation in the camp for camp managers/humanitarian organizations working in Jamtoli camp.

Results

  • Audio programs produced for the refugees inside the camp every week
  • Important feedback and concerns raised by refugees in the audio program are provided to humanitarian organizations
  • A team of refugee audio producers, translators and sound engineers/logisticians are identified and trained in the camp
  • Installation of more than 80 loudspeakers in living spaces across the camp

Resources

Team: 1 Head of Project; 1 Production manager; 1 production assistant; 1 project assistant

6 Months budget: 240,000 CHF

Financial resources:

  • Swiss Solidarity