UN Liberia comes together to fill IT gap
BY Albert Dayyeah | May 19, 2016|Comments 1
Many people see the internet as the best means of communicating, reporting and sharing information while others see it as a link between people, offices, countries and the rest of the world.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, founder, chairman and former CEO of the global media company News Corporation, said that “the Internet has been the most fundamental change during his lifetime and for hundreds of years.”
Liberia is no exception to the information revolution referred by Murdoch.
Recently, the UN in Liberia has embarked on an innovative project to provide fast internet connection to agencies in the field at a reduced cost following the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) transition and drawdown.
The project, which is currently being implemented in three locations (Lofa and Grand Gedeh and Bong), will ensure UN agencies use the same internet connectivity for voice and data in these areas allowing a complete terrestrial network for both our operations and our partners.
Thanks to this innovation, projects supporting refugees, rural women’s empowerment, school feeding and livelihoods will be able to keep running their operations smoothly.
The challenges in the field
Since the deployment of the UN Mission in the counties, UN agencies have heavily relied on it for basic support in running their field offices. The UN Mission provided office space, internet connectivity and fuel supply among other services. In most of the regions, the UN Mission building hosts UN agencies’ personnel. June 2016 is the date in which the UN Mission will finalize its security transition in Liberia. The UN Mission has reduced its foot print in the counties from 15 to 5 counties.The Mission planned transition will be finalized in 2017 or as mandated by the Security Council.
When the timeline was announced, we all started getting prepared to guarantee that our programmes and projects will be affected minimally especially in the counties where the UN programmes had a more concentrated presence.From an information and communication technology (ICT) point of view, this meant to address challenges such as providing the technology to guarantee implementation, monitoring and reporting from the field to the central offices so that colleagues do not face challenges in communicating with each other or sharing communication with different stakeholders due to lack of internet connection.
This will ensure that programmes are implemented in time and issues are addressed as they occur. Upon completion, the network will facilitate the operations of nine agencies (IOM, UNHCR, WFP, FAO, UNOPS, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNFPA and UNDP) with field presence in the three separate locations. It will also reduce the recurring monthly cost for these agencies by 50 percent. The implementation of this innovative ICT project will also decrease the call costs by agencies based in Monrovia to the ones in the field. The network also enables cheaper international calls helping agencies to reduce a 3,000 USD monthly phone bill plus a monthly charge of 600 USD for internet connectivity. In short, this project will also release more resources that agencies will be able to invest in other programme activities.
After all the preparations, the project will be officially lunched this month. Stay tuned to read how it goes!
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