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Souktel and Global Communities Partnering to Help Families in Gaza
Published 12/10/2012 by Global Communities
Souktel is a Palestinian organization that delivers mobile services to help communities when traditional forms of communication — such as landlines, internet, radio and TV signals — are disrupted. Souktel’s ‘AidLink’ mobile platform has been used in crisis responses from Somalia to Iraq, but when conflict escalated last month in Gaza, Souktel moved quickly to deliver mobile services to help residents in its own community.
In response to the crisis, Souktel worked with Global Communities/CHF to set up a rapid response platform which let staff collect data from local families about shelling damage to their homes. Global Communities personnel at multiple sites used the incoming results to inform their response planning. The valuable communications link provided by Souktel helped Global Communities deliver emergency aid to nearly 50,000 vulnerable Gazans.
Souktel’s mission is to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth by developing and delivering mobile phone services that give low-income communities the information they need to improve their lives. Souktel is the Middle East’s first platform that connects job-seekers with employers — and communities with aid — via mobile phone. Since the organization’s start in 2006, close to 20,000 workers and hundreds of companies have signed up for their mobile JobMatch services and Souktel has linked thousands of young people with jobs and training. Meanwhile, more than 20 leading aid agencies (from the Red Cross to UNICEF) actively use the mobile AidLink services to get key information to/from communities in crisis.
As part of the ‘AidLink’ mobile platform, Souktel partners with UNESCO on a communications system that allows teachers and staff at local schools to send out SMS alerts to families, warning them about potential danger in the area. During last month’s conflict, 29 schools used the service to send thousands of alerts each week. One message read, “No classes today due to ongoing fighting. Please ensure children stay at home,” while another asked teachers to attend an emergency training session.
“We feel it’s our duty to help out as much as we can, especially in our own community,” says Othman from Souktel’s head office in Ramallah. “Unfortunately, Souktel is based in a part of the world where conflict is frequent. But this reality has given us a unique insight into how we can build mobile software that helps communities in a time of need. Our solutions are created in crisis zones, for people in crisis zones, and so we believe this results in better technology that better addresses local needs.”
Learn more about Souktel at https://souktel.org/.