As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the fourth of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian and environmental settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Angola Scenario Resources for Trainee Teachers Background When Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, the new government estimated the level of illiteracy in the country to be between 85% and 90%. There then followed 27 years of civil war, during which the country’s education system (what there was of it) was left in chaos. Not only did most of the qualified teachers leave the country, but schools were damaged by gunfire and landmines and civilians became displaced. When the civil war ended in 2002, UN figures indicated that about 45% of Angolan children did not go to school. Those who did attend school often experienced a lack of teachers, overcrowding in unsuitable classrooms or a total absence of classrooms or classroom supplies. However, the Angolan government quickly focused attention on improving the education system and introduced four years of free, compulsory primary education (between the ages of 7 and 11). With the help of aid agencies such as UNESCO, the government has rebuilt many schools and opened hundreds of new ones. By 2018, it employed 17,000 teachers but still estimated that a further 200,000 trained teachers would be needed in order to give all Angolan children a primary school education. Challenge Teachers are particularly needed in rural areas and the NGO, known as ADPP (Aid for the Development of the People by the People), which works with the Angolan Ministry of Education, has set up secondary schools in rural areas specifically to train teachers to work in local primary schools. The three-year training promotes teaching skills through a combination of studies, courses and experiences, and students are expected to research topics for themselves, share ideas and ask questions. The students are usually from poor backgrounds and only have a few years of primary school education themselves. They are not able to purchase textbooks or access internet resources in order to fulfil the research aspects of the training course. In addition, many of them are not in possession of the national ID card due to the problems with access to, and issuance in, rural areas. Solution Each of the new training schools, called Training Colleges for the Teachers of the Future (CTFs), has a library that contains relevant references and study material for the courses offered. Students who register for a course have their personal details recorded, along with a fingerprint and face scan. They are also issued with a student card displaying their photograph. Access to the library involves scanning a student’s fingerprint, whereafter he or she is authorised to enter and borrow resource material. In addition, this gives access to the computer terminals available for research. Students who have already graduated as Teachers of the Future but who may still need to use the resources in the library for reference and guidance may also be given access, via fingerprint scan, for a period of time after completing their training. Read our other scenarios on how digital identity could: be used to monitor food and cash rations be used to help make cross-border trading easier help protect endangered southern ground hornbills in Zimbabwe
The past few weeks have seen the largest movement of people in Europe since World War II, with millions fleeing the war in Ukraine in search of safety, and many more trapped or under siege, unable to leave. While food, water and medicine are among the more immediate needs, many people have been forced to flee without identity documents as they get lost, misplaced or potentially confiscated along the way. While the situation remains fluid, humanitarian organisations are reporting the lack of any form of ID as a growing problem as people arrive at border crossings seeking help. In the longer term, the lack of ID can hinder visa applications, or potentially make moving back harder when it’s finally safe to return home. However, this is only part of the problem. Large numbers of local and foreign volunteers and workers are responding to the emergency, and in many places there’s a growing need to verify the identity of drivers or aid workers providing help and support. Reports of donated goods and supplies – and worse, women and children – going missing are already beginning to emerge. With vast numbers of vulnerable people congregating around borders, the potential for a huge humanitarian disaster is very real and incredibly worrying. For the past few weeks, we’ve been speaking to an increasing number of humanitarian NGOs, and collaborating with friends at TechFugees. Within days of war breaking out, many of the organisations in their network began reaching out to ask about our digital identity solutions, and how they might help those responding to the humanitarian crisis mitigate against some of these risks, or help citizens fleeing the war to secure their identities. We’ve been doing all we can to provide support to any organisation keen to implement our technology, which we’ve been providing for free. We understand how important it is to help them streamline the flow of humanitarian aid in times of crisis and to ensure that those delivering it are who they say they are. As part of our efforts to help anyone in the country who wants to safely store and secure their identity documents, we’ve fast-tracked the translation of the Yoti app into the two most widely spoken languages in Ukraine – Ukrainian and Russian. The app, with this new language support, is now available in the App Store and Google Play stores and free to download by anyone in or from Ukraine worried about losing the ability to prove who they are, either now or in the future. A short information sheet has also been introduced to explain the potential benefits of digital identity to them. Yoti in the humanitarian sector Thanks in large part to our social purpose efforts over the past few years, we know there are countless opportunities for Yoti to support the wider humanitarian sector, who can use our solutions often for free or at a heavily discounted rate. Operational uses may include verifying someone’s personal details when they sign up as a volunteer, confirming the identities of people accessing critical humanitarian data, or verifying that someone who claims to work for an aid agency does actually work for them. For people fleeing war or conflict who try to enter neighbouring countries or apply or register for help, securing their identity digitally is likely to prove hugely beneficial. Outside of any emergency use, Yoti can also be used to register patients for health programmes, identify people before making cash payments, registering and assisting refugees accessing camp services, or to clock teachers and pupils in and out of school. You can find more about our wider offering to the charity sector here, or on our broader social purpose efforts here. Planning ahead While we’re doing all we can to support the humanitarian response in Ukraine, we recognise our efforts are more reactive than proactive. Naturally, humanitarian crises can be hard to predict and the scale of what’s been taking place across the country has even taken many of the aid agencies working there by surprise. While we’re still learning about how digital identity solutions can support current efforts, it’s important to be as well prepared as possible before the next crisis strikes, and that means striving to always understand the most immediate needs of humanitarian relief organisations when they first hit the ground. What might they need from a company like Yoti to help them better understand what we offer? Would it make sense for us to ‘package up’ some of our solutions so they’re ready ‘off-the-shelf’ to meet some of the earliest needs, such as issuing digital ID cards to aid workers or volunteers? Should they have time before fleeing their homes, how do we help vulnerable people understand the very real benefits of securing their identities digitally? As our response to events in Ukraine is ongoing, there’s still a lot we don’t know. We’ve made the decision to hire a consultant with deep humanitarian crisis experience to help us unpick what we’ve been doing, and to help us gain valuable insight into how we can do it better for those that might benefit the most. The global response to the war has been incredible and it’s been encouraging to see so many people and organisations step up and help. As a company committed to doing good, and with technology with the potential to help the most vulnerable, it’s only right that we put ourselves among them in whatever way we can. If your organisation is working in Ukraine or one of the bordering countries, and you’re interested in how our digital identity solutions might help in your crisis response, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the team will get straight back to you. It goes without saying that our hearts go out to all those affected by events in Ukraine, and we pray for a speedy end to this horrific and unjust war. Ken Banks Head of Social Purpose at Yoti
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the third of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian and environmental settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Zimbabwe Scenario Conservation of southern ground hornbills Background Southern ground hornbills (Bucorvus leadbeateri) are large, black hornbills that move around on the ground. Their huge, black bills and bright red facial pouches, along with their considered, slightly comical gait, make them unmistakable in the African savannas and woodlands. Sadly, population numbers throughout most of their range declined by as much as 50% over the past 30 years. This is attributed largely to loss of habitat as human populations expand into, and cultivate savanna areas. Ground hornbills roost in trees and use hollow trunks to lay eggs and raise their young. As trees are cleared for agricultural purposes or firewood, the hornbills have nowhere suitable to roost or breed. In parts of their range, ground hornbills are also hunted for meat and poisoned accidentally by farmers targeting leopards or jackals. Hornbill feathers are sought-after as tribal decorations, and there is a long history of using them or their parts in traditional medicine. Traders of traditional medicine in a market in Zimbabwe stated that ground hornbill parts were used by people to get revenge on someone, to bring rain, protect against bad spirits and lightning, guide the family, give a person strength, make dreams come true and prevent theft. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List classifies southern ground hornbills as “Vulnerable” to extinction throughout their sub-equatorial range in Africa. In Zimbabwe, in particular, the government-sponsored ‘Agrarian Land Reform’ policies encourage the development of previously pristine, natural areas, which has put populations of ground hornbills in communal farming areas in jeopardy. Urgent research on population numbers and breeding success is critical in order to inform conservation and management measures. Challenge Conservation organisations, such as BirdLife Zimbabwe, are conducting research on ground hornbills that occupy territory and breed in communal lands or newly settled farming areas. A starting point for this research is to monitor population numbers and breeding success each year. Since it is not practical or financially viable for researchers to follow each family group of hornbills as it moves through its large home territory each day, the participation of local community members is essential to the success of the research. However, the reporting of ground hornbill sightings and nest locations could attract individuals with nefarious intentions, considering that traditional medicine traders are prepared to buy birds or bird parts for resale to the public. Should such individuals be inadvertently included in the research community, the effects on populations of these long-lived, slow breeding hornbills may be devastating. Solution Community participants who wish to be included in the citizen science network to report and observe ground hornbills would need to have a digital identity that verifies them as bona fide, living and trusted individuals. This may involve an interview, in person or via an online platform, as well as the registration of the participant’s name, address and facial biometrics. This would enable a participant to join a messaging group, such as WhatsApp, where the sightings and observations are submitted. Behavioural identifiers could also be included in the digital identity since an individual observer will be submitting records from within a well-defined area (close to their home) each time and this could be used to authenticate the observations. In South Africa, the Kruger National Park, the South African Bird Atlas Project and the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project have used citizen scientists in a similar way, thereby involving the community and expanding the capacity for data capture. Read the other scenarios on how digital identity could be used to monitor food and cash rations and how digital identity could be used to help make cross-border trading easier.
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years, we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the second of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Lesotho Scenario Informal Cross-border Traders Background Lesotho is a sovereign state that is completely enclaved within the territory of South Africa. It has an area of around 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) and a population of just under 2 million. It is mountainous and landlocked, and the levels of poverty are high. Given their close geographical proximity, Lesotho and South Africa have a long history of trade relations, commencing more than 150 years ago when migrant labourers from Lesotho were employed in the South African gold mines. Salaries earned by migrant labourers proved to be important to the economy of Lesotho, as indicated in the Lesotho Official Yearbook (1996) that states this income contributed 30% to the country’s Gross National Product.1 Since 1994, however, the South African government has encouraged the employment of South African miners, and Lesotho’s miners have seen massive retrenchment. This has left the population desperately seeking alternative ways of earning an income. Many have turned to informal trade, particularly involving cross-border trips, either to purchase goods for resale in Lesotho or to sell goods produced in Lesotho, to South African markets. The majority of informal cross-border traders are women, and this form of commercial activity is crucial in Lesotho for supporting poor families and putting food on their tables. The government recognises the importance of this economic sector and, in the sense that they allow small consignments of goods to enter the country without import permits, have tried to make border entry a little easier. Challenge Ten years ago, Lesotho had no national identification or registration system. With the 2013 launch of the national ID system, the government has moved to rectify this, but 10% of the population still has not been registered. Combined with this, bureaucracy at border posts is time-consuming and complex and largely of a manual nature. Cross-border traders experience bottlenecks and delays on a daily basis. In addition, the loss of a passport would render a trader unable to earn an income for the three months that it may take to obtain a replacement. Informal cross-border traders at Lesotho’s border posts report that passport issues complicate their commercial activities and make them vulnerable to corrupt officials who may extort a “fee” before allowing them to cross the border. Solution Since informal cross-border traders exit and enter Lesotho through one of only three border posts, it would be possible to register every trader on a database that could be held at each border. Traders’ names, addresses and National Identity Register numbers could be recorded, along with fingerprint, hand or face biometrics. An offline system would suffice as long as the trader only used the border post with which he or she registers. Subsequently, any crossing through a Lesotho border post could be done by automated systems that scan the fingerprint, hand or face. Naturally, a bilateral agreement with the South African border authorities would complete the process so that cross-border traders could move unimpeded through both sets of controls. This would also be particularly useful for those Lesotho residents who have permanent employment just across the border in South Africa and have to make this journey twice a day, every weekday. Read the first scenario on how digital identity could be used to monitor food and cash rations.
As we go about our social purpose work we regularly get to speak to local, national and international non-profit organisations. Over the years we’ve found that many struggle to understand the many ways digital identity solutions might help them in their work. As part of our wider efforts to help the sector make sense of the technology, today we’re publishing the first of six articles looking at the use of digital identities in six different humanitarian settings. Please note that, while the technology use-case is real, the scenarios are hypothetical in nature, and the projects do not exist as stated. Location Northern Mozambique Scenario Food and Cash Ration Monitoring Background Mozambique is situated on the eastern coast of southern Africa and is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. It is a poor country (ranked 192 out of 195 on the International Monetary Fund’s 2021 list of per capita Gross Domestic Product) that is also regularly beset by devastating cyclones, storms and floods. Food insecurity has been a serious problem in this country since its independence in 1975. Currently 24% of the population suffers chronic food shortage and a further 25% is considered to be malnourished. Recent conflict in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado has added to the woes of the already impoverished and hungry population in the area. Although the conflict, involving a militant Islamist group, began more than three years ago, the Mozambican defence forces have had little success in rooting out the insurgents. More than 570 violent attacks were reported between January and December 2020, with civilians being the main targets. As a result, many people have fled the area. By March 2021, an estimated 697,000 people had been displaced from their homes in the northern provinces of Mozambique. Challenge Although some of the fleeing families have sought refuge with relatives in other villages, many have been settled in camps for internally displaced people. These camps have doubled in size in recent months, with as many as 120,000 people being accommodated at a single location. Naturally, it is a challenge to keep track of people in circumstances such as these, and to ensure they receive the basic requirements for survival. Food aid organisations, including the UN’s World Food Programme and World Vision International, have long been involved in food distribution programmes in Mozambique and have the necessary personnel and infrastructure. However, organisations on the ground need a way to monitor which beneficiaries receive food rations, water and medications on a daily basis. This is crucial to keep track of the commodities – to ensure that needy people are not left out and the distribution is entirely fair. The fact that aid agencies, such as World Vision International, also provide cash or vouchers directly to individuals to aid recovery in emergency situations, makes it even more imperative to identify the recipients of such donations accurately. Solution Displaced people would be registered on arrival at a camp. Their names and photographs would be used as identifiers, along with fingerprints, and this data could be entered into an offline database. It is probably inappropriate to expect displaced people to carry around an ID card, since they have no possessions and therefore nowhere to keep the card safely. In this case, fingerprint scans or hand geometry recognition might be the most suitable biometric identifiers. Each time a camp inhabitant receives a food parcel, water or medication, identity could be authenticated using this technology, some of which requires no costly hardware or software. In addition, camp databases could be made available to other camps, or to aid agencies operating in the country. This would enable people in need to be identified and authenticated if they decided to move from one camp to another or were displaced again in the future. To learn more about our social purpose work, click here.
We’re excited to announce the launch of our latest social purpose initiative – an African Conservation Challenge exploring the use of digital identities to help foster authentic, trusted, dignified online dialogue between communities and other stakeholders engaged in conservation across the Southern Africa region. The Challenge is open to individuals and organisations based anywhere in Africa, and comes with a prize of $15,000. Background Historically, rural voices have been either missing or largely ignored in much of the debate and decision making around the management of natural resources, particularly wildlife, in Africa. It is widely acknowledged, however, that the involvement of local people is critical to successful conservation outcomes. This Challenge seeks to support the development of an online platform that will engage a variety of stakeholders. These include government officials, conservation leaders, members of the public and, crucially, local communities living close to protected areas or whose land is wildlife habitat, to ensure trusted, respectful, verified and non-confrontational debate on critical issues that affect them, and the policies and programmes of the wider conservation sector. The overall objective is to help communities take their rightful place as equal partners in policy negotiation, development and implementation processes. We hope to amplify their voices to ensure informed decision-making at national, regional and international levels that reflects the demands and rights of rural people to manage their wildlife. It is believed that an online forum based on the concept of ‘verified identities’ of all participants will help foster authenticity, trust and raise confidence among participants that they are engaging with genuine Southern African community members in their own words, based on their lived realities and experiences as equals at the table. African Conservation Challenge: the details As part of our Social Purpose Strategy, Yoti will manage the running of a Conservation Challenge to support the development of a trusted online forum where these critical debates can safely take place. The Challenge will be open to web developers across Africa, and promoted through partners such as AfriLabs, the primary membership organisation for innovation labs in the region. African organisations (or individuals) will be invited to submit a short proposal outlining the proposed functionality and layout of the website. We appreciate that under normal circumstances any developer would have at least one conversation with their client before firming up a proposal. As a result, entries submitted for this Challenge will be considered preliminary ideas only, and will be judged as such. The final site design and functionality will be determined following discussions between the winning entry, and Resource Africa and Yoti. First and foremost we are looking for interesting, compelling proposals based on the information provided. In good company We’re really happy to begin this initiative with the support of some key organisations in Africa. Kenechukwu C. Chukwu, Member Services Manager of AfriLabs, told us, “This African Conservation Challenge is a great opportunity to support the inclusion of local communities in policy negotiation, development, and other national and regional issues. As a network keen on impacting the African ecosystem, AfriLabs is excited to contribute to, and support, this initiative.” Additionally, Moreangels Mbizah, Resource Africa Programmes Manager, believes, “For far too long a technology gap has crippled the ability of local communities to participate in public discussion that informs policies that directly affect their lives. This platform will help open up democratic space for respectful and meaningful engagement where rural Africans can express their views, perspectives, and concerns on their own rights, on their own terms.” Competition next steps If you would like to take part, please have a read of the African Conservation Challenge overview and submit an entry before the competition closes on the 30th May 2021. For further background reading, we recommend this excellent Community Engagement Framework by African People & Wildlife and this very useful paper on Community Engagement in Biodiversity Conservation by Chemonics and Arizona State University.