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Digital tech, inequality and migration: UKRI GCRF MIDEQ Work Package 9’s digital intervention work underway in Nepal and South Africa

Digital tech, inequality and migration: UKRI GCRF MIDEQ Work Package 9’s digital intervention work underway in Nepal and South Africa

  • Date21 December 2022

Professor of Digital Innovation Management G 'Hari' Harindranath describes the work undertaken as part of the UKRI GCRF MIDEQ Work Package 9 portfolio, alongside colleagues Dr Maria Rosa Lorini and Professor Tim Unwin.

Our work package on digital technologies and inequality is an ‘intervention’ work package within the UKRI GCRF funded MIDEQ Hub on South-South Migration, Inequality and Development. We are currently working with migrants, migrant organisations, and tech companies with the support of international organisations to co-design and implement sustainable digital interventions that will help to reduce migrant-defined inequalities in Nepal and South Africa. This intervention work builds on our extensive research with migrants in multiple countries.

The following the three main WP9 principles underline all our efforts:

  • There is nothing inherently good about digital tech; our digital interventions should do no harm.
  • Digital interventions can have unintended consequences; we will therefore work ‘with’ migrants, and definitely not ‘for’ or ‘on’ them.
  • We will use participatory methods in our work with migrants, migrant organisations, local tech developers and other stakeholders.

The initiatives are already having a direct impact on the participants attending our training sessions and workshops as well as on the local organisations involved. While the participants gain digital skills, share knowledge, and empower each other, the organisations are strengthening existing collaborations and developing new networks.

Our work in Nepal kicked off in September 2022 with a sandpit and workshop led by Professor G Hari Harindranath (School of Business and Management) and Dr Maria Rosa Lorini (School of Business and Management) with Professor Tim Unwin (UNESCO Chair in ICT4D & Geography) joining remotely that brought together returnee migrant women and men, several key migrant organisations, digital tech and media organisations and local researchers from Nepal to collectively work together to arrive at ideas for one or more digital interventions that can be beneficial to migrants, returnees and their families in Nepal. The sandpit and workshop resulted in three main ideas for digital interventions which are now in full swing with a further WP9 visit planned for late January 2023.

  • Migrant Navigator (Pardesiko Sarathy), a one-stop-shop for migrants using digital tech - This intervention aims to develop a digital gateway/portal that provides links to all migration related information in one place that can be trusted by migrants.
  • Preparing migrants for secure, safe and wise use of digital tech – Here the focus is on developing a one-hour digital preparedness programme on secure, safe and wise use of digital tech by migrants in the local languages.
  • Information sharing and awareness for migrants – This intervention will ensure that the first two are disseminated to address the widespread lack of awareness of migration related processes, apps and information.