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The Dadaab refugee complex in northern Kenya was designed to hold 90,000 refugees. Today, it is home to over 500,000. With aid groups pushed to their limits, working in a context of violence and insecurity, effective communication and coordination are crucial. In 2011, USAID forged a diverse partnership to deliver affordable, reliable internet access to the Dadaab refugee complex.
USAID and its implementing partner NetHope brought together humanitarian organizations working in Dadaab, aggregating demand for internet services to attract local telecom providers. The resulting network—DadaabNet—negotiated a reduced price and added bandwidth capacity with Kenyan telecommunications companies, Safaricom and Orange. This partnership resulted in services that are 20 times faster and only 10% of the cost of VSAT systems that were replaced. Humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab are now able to deliver life-saving aid more efficiently while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.