Yumi Konek in Torba

Yumi Konek
People can now reliably stay in touch with friends and family, enhance or set up businesses, take online courses or look for jobs. This benefits individuals, and whole communities.

Isolated communities across Vanuatu's dispersed islands can now access internet-based emails using a combination of adapted short-wave radios and solar power.

Oxfam’s partner, the Vanuatu Rural Development Training Centres' Association (VRDTCA), runs the Yumi Konek project, which translates from Bislama as 'We connect'.

Overcoming isolation

The Yumi Konek project is improving livelihoods for people who often have no contact with people outside their village, island, province or country.

In this country where the opportunities for young people are limited, and where telecommunications are unreliable, Yumi Konek is helping them to learn new skills, forge new connections, set up their own businesses and stay in touch with the wider world.

Adapting technology

Torba is the most isolated province of Vanuatu and telecommunications are extremely limited.

Landlines break down continuously, leaving communities cut off from the rest of the country, sometimes for months on end. There is no reliable coverage and only dial-up internet in a few schools. The most reliable form of telecommunication is HF (short-wave) radio.

Yumi Konek worked with Torba communities, suppliers, businesses and technical experts to set up an email station at the local Rural Training Centre (RTC). Using simple computers and enhancing the short wave radio enabled Yumi Konek to establish an internet-based email service. Critically, the improved HF (short-wave) radio technology is powered by solar panels that are fixed up outside the RTC building, meaning that the service is dependable.

In addition, a new Yumi Konek internet café in Port Vila acts as a central hub to the outer islands, making it easier for people in the capital to access emails and stay connected with family and friends in Torba. The café also offers basic IT and internet courses for people keen to develop their computing skills.

Yumi Konek
Yumi Konek is enabling sustainable rural development through better information sharing and knowledge-building across Vanuatu.

Community connections

The project has had a huge range of benefits.

People in the western world often take for granted how internet and email access can change lives. For rural communities in Vanuatu it means a chief can communicate with his village, a pastor can send prayer requests to his congregation, young people around the country can form networks without the need to meet face-to-face and farmers can sell their goods and get in touch with buyers.

Services like typing and printing, provided at RTCs, are helping communities in ways they had never heard of.

By enabling more effective and quicker communications, Yumi Konek is bringing communities across the country together through information sharing, learning, and enhancing the exchange of information between communities, NGOs, the media, businesses and government.