The challenge of reconnecting unaccompanied child refugees with their loved ones is a growing problem with the refugee crisis. In Kakuma refugee camp filmmaker Lieven Corthouts sought out a solution after living there and talking with refugees struggling to find their families. ThoughtWorks collaborated with Lieven to design and user test a web application with refugees to address the problem, and set out the steps to trial a full solution in Kakuma.
Kakuma is a UNHCR administered refugee camp in North West Kenya, near the border with South Sudan. The camp’s population exceeded 193,000 people as of June 2016, of which 53% were South Sudanese. Almost 12,700 South Sudanese children have been registered by UNHCR as unaccompanied or separated (UNHCR, 2016).
Lieven has been in Kakuma for much of the last five years. While filming a documentary about the experiences of three young refugees in the camp, and seeing first-hand how difficult the process of reunification is, he conceived the idea for the Find Me application.
ThoughtWorks worked with Lieven to shape his vision: To help refugees in Kakuma find missing relatives through a web application which refugees are both involved in designing and, by its design, are given choice and self-determinism. From here, the 3 core principles of the app were defined as:
- Child safety is paramount: Minimise human interaction and limit data collected
- Community-led, community-driven: Through conception, promotion and facilitation
- Keep it simple: Simple user interface, utilising technologies familiar to refugees