Our mission to Cameroon with the UN Refugee Agency – 5 key takeaways
It’s been a few days since Miro and I returned from our mission with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to Cameroon – and what a deeply meaningful experience it was for the two of us.
The mission was the culmination of many months of close partnership between Resco and UNHCR, who have incorporated the Resco platform into a broader suite of UNHCR applications managing the identity data of persons of concern, namely refugees. Miro and I were incredibly grateful for the chance to experience something totally new, both in terms of our daily work and our own knowledge of the world, while also gathering critical feedback and helping with the first deployment of these tools in Cameroon.
Our travels took us first to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, where we had a quick introduction to the country before driving east to the cities of Bertoua and Batouri. We spent the bulk of our time helping the local UNHCR registration teams prepare their Resco-based tools for field work (the Rapid Application “RApp” for offline registration activities and the Resco Field Server to aggregate local registration data). Then we had the chance to accompany these teams out to villages and refugee camps, offering us an incredible opportunity to see how the Resco tools work firsthand while also learning much more about the realities and challenges faced by refugees in their daily lives.
After taking a few days to decompress after this whirlwind experience, what were some of the biggest takeaways from our Cameroon mission?
- UNHCR works tirelessly to bring assistance and recognition to refugees facing tremendous hardship.
All of the UNHCR staff we worked with were incredibly energized and motivated to help refugees in need. Their enthusiasm was contagious and they do great work under challenging conditions.
- Technology can help you accomplish what was previously impossible…
Crisis situations often cause refugees to settle in locations where there is little infrastructure and zero connectivity. Resco’s offline platform held up very strongly in the most remote, disconnected environments that we’ve ever been a part of and helped provide better services to the local refugees.
- …but there’s still more work to do.
Both speed and accuracy are crucial in these crisis situations, so we’ll use our experience in the field to improve RApp’s UI and performance and make registration activities even more efficient.
- The Resco Field Server component of the project deserves special recognition.
Having local teams of registration officers syncing RApp to their Resco Field Server – enabling their work offline while also complying with strict data requirements from the local authorities – is an interesting option for some of our private sector and non-profit partners to consider for their own Resco projects.
- Stepping outside of your comfort zone, both professionally and personally, is always a good thing.
From the UNHCR staff to the refugees themselves, Miro and I drew inspiration from the way everyone handled these difficult circumstances with grace and perseverance. This experience offered us a chance to bring some perspective to our own lives while also striving to do more to help those in need.
Looking into the future, Resco and UNHCR plan to deepen our partnership by improving RApp and the Resco Field Server while also mobilizing more UNHCR processes via the Resco platform. The experience we gained from this mission will absolutely help us along the way, and we’re grateful to our UNHCR hosts for their warm welcome and collaboration.
All of us at Resco feel a tremendous sense of pride seeing our work used for good and we look forward to helping UNHCR use their Resco tools worldwide!
If you’re interested to get a better picture of what it was like for us, check out our photo gallery here.
Andrew Lorraine is Resco’s Field Service Business Development Manager and participated alongside Resco CTO Miro Pomsar in this mission to Cameroon. You can read more about UNHCR’s reliance on Resco technology at this blog post.