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UNICEF-developed computer kiosk aims to provide information access to isolated communities in Uganda

KAMWOKYA, Uganda, 14 October, 2011 – A unique innovation developed by UNICEF called ‘The Digital Drum’ will be featured as part of a new exhibition by the American Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, exploring various design solutions to address the challenges created by rapid urban growth in informal settlements.

VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Tom Walsh reports on a unique UNICEF innovation turning oil drums into doorways of information for rural communities.  Watch in RealPlayer


The free exhibit entitled ‘Design with the Other 90%: Cities’, will run from October 15, 2011 to January 9, 2012 at the United Nations in New York. Divided into six themes - Exchange, Reveal, Adapt, Include, Prosper, and Access - UNICEF’s digital drum will be featured as part of the ‘Access’ theme, through its innovative, simple design, which will facilitate the availability of information and services to traditionally isolated communities.
Information portals

Currently being built and tested in Uganda, ‘The Digital Drum’ is a solar-powered computer kiosk made out of rugged, locally available materials. An eye-catching combination of industrial simplicity and modern technology, it aims to change the lives of millions of people in rural areas.

© UNICEF Video
UNICEF has developed an innovative way to increase access to information for rural communities in Uganda. It’s called ‘the rugged solar powered computer.’

Consisting of low-cost oil drums welded together, waterproof keyboards, solar panels, and low-power laptops, the durable design ensures sustainability, and with its preloaded content dealing with health and education, the drums will serve as veritable information portals.

“The innovative technologies like these actually help create a digital bridge between those who have access to the Internet and those who don’t, in a low-cost sturdy fashion,” explained Sharad Sapra, UNICEF Representative in Uganda.

Lack of access

Today, less than 10 per cent of Ugandans use the Internet. Rural communities especially struggle from a lack of access to information, but access also eludes those living in the poorest urban spaces, such as children living in the slum by Kamwokya.

Close to one billion people live in slums around the world, and that number is projected to swell to two billion people by 2030.



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