The Digital Human Rights Lab (DHRLab) has had 3 exciting years of supporting Human Rights work in Uganda, they held an event (The Next Chapter) on Friday 12th, November 2021 at Fairway Hotel in Kampala to celebrate the successes of the DHRLab Communities of Practice (CoPs) projects and the Innovation Program, and looking at the way ahead to strengthen Human Rights in Uganda even more, and to grow together as a community.
A Deep Dive into the DHRLab
The DHRLab Communities of Practice (CoPs)
The communities of practice stand at the core of our network-building. These communities are best to be understood as places of knowledge exchange among organisations who have similar interest, understanding, and challenges in the human rights and digital technology sector. They are groups of people who share a concern or a passion.
Digital Human Rights Innovation Program
The Digital Human Rights Innovation Program aimed at creating digital solutions for Human Rights Defenders to execute their work in better, more efficient and more secure ways. Motivated teams applied with digital ideas to pitch and compete to win a grant. The DHRLab with support from StartHub Africa successfully implemented two rounds of the Innovation Program.
In every round, 4 teams won a total shared grant of 60.000.000 UGX and qualified for 6-month Mentorship by StartHub Africa. The first round had Kuchu Care, Girl Power Connect, Safe Bangles and iRoom emerged as winners and in the second round had Disability Innovations Uganda, Awesome Mind Speaks, Naguru Youth Health Network and The Debunk Team were winners the winning teams.
Conversations at The Next Chapter Event
“These last three years were so challenging for everyone working in the human rights field. As human rights defenders many of the organizations are actually in danger. Most of the organizations are facing many challenges. Such as office break ins, accounts closed and many administrative hurdles. We tend to forget the long way we have to take to do the work. In GIZ we work with many organisations and we observe how challenging it is.
Various effort has been done to improve the digital space such as new laws. We now need to implant these laws” Esther Sommer from GIZ explained.
Ruth Atim had this to say about the DHRLab: “The Digital Human Rights Lab has done a great job. Many of our CoP activities wouldn’t have been done but their support enabled us have them accomplished, for example the digital security manual that was implemented by Digital Security Community of Practice”.
Other CoP focus areas include; Digital Inclusion, Cyber Laws & Regulations, ICT4Advocacy and Innovation for Rural Development.
“We started last year September. Our first call for applications was last year and we got more than 140 teams of applicants for innovative solutions to human rights challenges now Uganda. We selected ten teams who joined our design sprint of four weeks and later a pitch event where all the teams pitched their ideas on stage and we got four winning teams from each round.” Sophie Dienberg (Innovation Program).
Daaki Joshua, who also works on the Innovation Program had this to say: “The teams now have an opportunity to join the Communities of Practice (CoPs) which gives them a chance to be more collaborative and to expand. They have now gone through six months off tailored mentorship and coaching from StartHub Africa, supporting and guiding them to improve and implement their solution better. Looking at where the teams have come from, we are proud of them.”