UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launching the Humanitarian Accelerators (Photo credit: Government of Dubai media office)
The Dubai government launched Humanitarian Accelerators to bring together skilled and innovative professionals in the cause of aiding the humanitarian sector. The accelerators will work towards improving the financial efficiency of humanitarian organisations and going beyond conventional technology approaches. They are expected to facilitate the formation of partnerships and the signing of memorandums of understanding in order to fund pilot projects after the programme ends.
The objective is to utilise the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to find solutions for some of the most difficult humanitarian challenges. The Humanitarian Accelerators are launched in collaboration with Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiative (MBRGI) and Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA).
MBRGI focuses on developmental and social initiatives in four sectors: combating poverty and disease, spreading knowledge, empowering communities, and entrepreneurship and innovation for the future. The DFA programme was launched in July 2016 to bring together government entities in Dubai and companies working on cutting-edge technologies, to accelerate the building of a relationship between companies and government. Till date 65 international companies have participated in the Dubai Future Accelerators programme, and a memorandum of understanding has been signed with 47 others.
The Humanitarian Accelerators will address four key challenges, in the areas of education, clean water, economic opportunities for refugees and quality of online reading material and content in Arabic.
The Accelerators aim to provide quality education to all children, including refugees, through e-learning tools and innovative mechanisms, such as accessible websites, that enable young students to access interactive educational platforms regardless of where they are located. There are overwhelming obstacles facing young students, especially those living as refugees, in gaining a formal education. There are no schools or curricula that accommodate refugees, there is a shortage of educational tools and qualified teachers, and poverty poses additional obstacles to obtaining an education.
The second challenge is providing access to clean water in underprivileged countries. MBRGI has utilised conventional solutions to provide clean drinking water to over 10 million people. Harnessing technology to expand this reach is the next step. Access to clean drinking water is a global challenge, with approximately 780 million people without access to a clean source or water. The Humanitarian Accelerators will look for solutions to create cost-effective technology that can purify water efficiently, quickly and in large quantities that can be delivered to the most affected communities.
The third challenge facing the region is the number of refugees living in poverty, which has increased 50% in 2015 to 70% in 2017 as per UNHCR reports. The Humanitarian Accelerators will focus on finding electronic solutions and developing a platform for e-business in order to give refugees around the world a platform to leverage their skills, capabilities and services and market their products online, providing them with tangible economic opportunities.
In addition to the above, the Humanitarian Accelerators will seek to devise electronic solutions in order to increase the amount, and quality, of Arabic content online.