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"what3words is a global addressing system. It has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address. what3words provides a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location. And it means everyone and everywhere now has an address."

 

Hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa live in informal settlements which lack reliable addressing. This inability to define a location – of homes, businesses and properties – means people are essentially invisible to the system.

They struggle to access basic utilities, amenities or receive medical care. In particular, pregnant women who experience difficulties during labour are unable to get help, as midwives can’t find them, and many die in childbirth.

With poor addressing playing such a critical role in the success of their projects, ‘Gateway Health’ had no choice but to find a viable alternative. And ‘what3words’ has proved the perfect solution.

‘what3words’ is a global addressing system. It has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address. It provides a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location. And it means everyone and everywhere now has an address.

With a focus on health and human rights, The Gateway Health Institute are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of those in hard to reach and vulnerable populations.

The Gateway Health Institute is a leading NGO in South Africa, providing healthcare and community services to disadvantaged areas. They run programs to deliver medicine, supply emergency transport for women in labour, and identify hot spots for human rights abuses.

Gateway has begun piloting the use of 3 word addresses in KwaNdengezi, a poor informal settlement on the outskirts of Durban. A key part of the project is training unemployed young people who live in the settlement to search for a 3 word address via the free what3words app, and provide it to residents.

Following this simple training, they take what they have learned out to the homes in the settlement. Here, they help residents locate and record the unique 3 word address of their own property, with both a paper copy and, optionally, a digital registration in a database. The database uses USSD technology – an easy to use technology that works on any kind of mobile phone and does not require internet. It enables even more rapid response when requesting emergency services or reporting service delivery failures...

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