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Beyond assumptions of dependency and passivity, crisis- affected groups such as refugees have been shown to be in fact apt in developing diverse coping mechanisms, but face many legal, economic and social restrictions in their attempts to make a living (e.g. Betts et al., 2014). In such contexts, the topic of ‘refugee innovation’ is of increasing interest (Betts et al., 2015). Attention to frugal innovations may be particularly relevant in highlighting innovations that are low-cost, rely on few resources and can reach scale. Leveraging available digital technology, the growing use of frugal innovations such as ICTs is argued to be fostering a new ‘social order’, shaping the lives of individuals, new ‘social order’, shaping the lives of individuals, organizations and society (Warschauer and Matuchniak, 2010).
Yet both refugee access and the use of ICTs may be complex, especially in uncertain displacement and crisis situations (Ritchie, 2018). In these contexts, there may be concerns related to the physical ‘digital divide’, and the multi-layers of ‘asymmetry’ in ICT design, access, usage and adoption leading to the exclusion of marginalized groups (Tsatsou et al., 2011), and the potential reproduction of existing structural biases. Such digital divide and exclusion risks aggravating social inequalities that will hinder human security, integration and the achievement of the SDGs (The Earth Institute and Ericsson, 2016).
This panel is interested in empirical research related to access and use of ‘frugal’ innovations and technology in humanitarian contexts, including ICTs and Apps, by crisis-affected groups themselves, including vulnerable groups such as refugees, and the broader influence on processes of socio-economic inclusion and transformation. The panel is interested in community use and adoption of (frugal) technology for local self-reliance and resilience.