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Kenyan developers reach UNHCR ‘hack’ final contest

Two projects developed by Kenya-based software developers have been selected as finalists at the two-day developer session or “hackathon”, organized by Refugees United and Ericsson at the weekend in Nairobi.

One of the winning projects, by Team DKK, enables volunteers to collect data offline and synchronize it with an online server when connection is available, Ericsson, a global IT and communication firm, said in a press statement from their Nairobi office Tuesday.

The other, developed by Team ACID, is an online web registration system, called “Ref Unite Plus”, that has details under which a refugee can be easily located.

They now have the opportunity to present their projects at Kakuma Refugee Camp, north east Kenya, on Thursday, 20 June, as part of the World Refugee Day celebrations.

Team DDK was made up of Dennis Kawawa, David Kirui, Titus Korir and Bonny Kashif.

Team ACID has Anthony Nandaa, Mercy Orangi, Thomas Kioko, Samuel Mbugua, David Maitho and Derick Lung’aho.

Hackathon is an event where approximately 30 developers, programmers and designers join forces to solve a problem.

The participants bring their laptops, enthusiasm, and ideas and work on identified and common challenges.

At the two-day event, dedicated developers had a weekend to solve the challenge – how to connect refugee families separated by war, conflict and disaster – while the projects were judged by a special Ericsson and Refugees United panel.

The event took place at 88mph, a co-creation space known as “Startup Garage”.

“Family members lose track of each other mainly during war or famine and we must continue to invent technical solutions to put them back in touch,” said Ms Margaret Kositany, Director of Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson’s Kenya office.

Partnering since 2010, Ericsson and Refugees United seek to help separated families reconnect via mobile technology.

Ericsson supports www.refunite.org – a mobile and web platform that empowers refugees to take the search for long lost family members into their own hands.

“With more than 43 million forcibly displaced people around the world, there is an urgent need to reconnect families to their missing loved ones. Everyone has the right to know where their family is,” said Mr. Richard Ngamita, Data Analyst Manager of Refugees United.

The Nairobi Hackathon was the last in a series of three hacks taking place in Cairo, Silicon Valley, and Nairobi.

Refugees United and Ericsson will announce the three global winners via Google Hangout on World Refugee Day, 20 June, 2013, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees.

The three winners from Cairo, Nairobi and Silicon Valley will be invited to test their prototypes in a refugee camp in late 2013.

Over 60 developers signed up for the Hack for Good event in Nairobi, Kenya.


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