Access to Information and Education in Emergency Situations
In 2014, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF) created the Ideas Box, an extremely compact virtual and physical library that fits on 2 pallets and can be easily transported and installed, even in the most difficult contexts. When open, the Ideas Box creates a 100m space packed with features: internet connection via satellite, 4 laptops, 15 touchscreen tablets, 50 electronic readers, 300 hard-copy books and numerous pedagogical tools. It also contains a cinema module equipped with the necessary material to produce documentaries and community news, various games and video-games, toys, puppets and theatre set. Light furniture is integrated in the Ideas Box, including tables for computer consultation and mats for reading or movie projections.
In February 2014, BSF deployed two Ideas Boxes in the Kavumu and Musasa refugee camps, in Burundi, for Congolese refugees. Five months later, a third Ideas Box was launched in the Bwagiriza refugee camp, also in Burundi. This case study will focus on the lessons learned from the Ideas Box deployed in the Kavumu refugee camp.
Lessons for Promising Practice:
- Involving the community in the design of the project and the selection of the available resources is key in promoting ownership of the program and creating the necessary conditions for the empowerment of populations.
- Providing an enabling environment and contents tailored to the needs of both educators and students improves motivation and engagement in students who regularly visit the Ideas Box and use its contents. We have demonstrated that students who attend French and Math classes within the Ideas Box show a 23% increase in academic improvement compared with students who do not make use of the box and only attend classes in a classic school setting.
- The Ideas Box plays a stabilizing role in the camp. The diversity and adaptability of its tools allow it to act as a community hub where all generations come together. It promotes community engagement, dialogue and conflict resolution.
- The Ideas Box provides a safe space to deal with tensions and trauma. It allows users to reflect on their emotions and experiences through creative activities that promote healing and reduces anxieties.