AI Insights

Predicting Forced Displacement in Somalia with UNHCR – by Munira from Somalia

September 17, 2022

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Munira left Somalia because of violence, but rather than losing her hope, she has got a big vision.

In one event, an electronic shop close to her university was completely destroyed a few minutes after she left her laptop for repair. This is one of many events that did not stop Munira from following her vision to improve her skills, empower and educate other women in STEM, and use technologies such as machine learning & AI to solve problems in her country and beyond.

“I want to solve community problems like droughts and also improve many industries in my country using deep learning and computer vision in the near future,” Munira said. She worked among 40 other Omdena collaborators in our AI for a good challenge with the UN Refugee Agency to predict forced displacement and climate change in Somalia

Read on your own what an extraordinary mindset she has.

Munira, what is your background?

I am a Somali girl from Mogadishu living in Nairobi. I have got a bachelor’s degree in computer application from one of Somalia’s top universities in technology in September 2017. In March 2018, I landed an internship as a software developer where I realized what I knew was only basic coding.

But before I could properly learn the skills required for a software developer, my family decided to move to Nairobi.


Photo: Munira Omar

Why are you interested in AI and data science?

As Andrew Ng says: AI is the new electricity.”

One of the things I want to do with AI is to use its power and make deaf people feel they are not disabled. I want them to freely communicate with their friends and families through video calls, and the camera will track the sign language and translate it.

Hailing from Somalia that is a country so behind the world, when it comes to Artificial Intelligence, it gives me the courage to pursue even more and empower other women to complete their AI education and see beyond their regular lives.

What is the most important life lesson that you’ve learned?

I lived in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia where most of the bombings happen. If it was not for the violent conflicts, I think I would have never left home. When you see how my fellow Somalis are living their lives to the fullest, you will believe there is peace in Somalia.

Source: Internet

Photo: Dominique Mollard, AP-Stars and Stripes. (Source)

The most important lesson I have learned is that there is always a grand plan in the background happening beyond our sight, even though the process might be hard or painful.

I had been unemployed for the past year, leaving my dream job back home, but I am so grateful for this year of experience.

Not only have I found what I really want to do in life, but I have also made the internet my university and took full advantage of the jobless year to learn the most needed skills, like AI education in 2019.

What is your vision for the next couple of years?

I’m going to make my way to big tech companies like Google and Facebook to gain some experience. I am also so passionate about getting more girls and women into technology. I want to teach mothers how to code while they are at home looking after their families and create a space where we, women, in STEM are inspired and say to each other “I have been there, and I am here to help you”.

I also would like to keep writing and share my little knowledge through blogging.

If you could share one thing with individuals who are in a similar situation when you were in Somalia, what would you tell them?

You don’t have to go to universities abroad to pursue your dreams and complete your education. Everything now is on the internet. The best universities are now offering their courses online on websites like Edx and Coursera.

Just because your country is behind when it comes to some of the technologies like AI, it does not mean you should be behind too.

Make the “internet” your university.

Ready to test your skills?

If you’re interested in collaborating, apply to join an Omdena project at:

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