Over half of the world’s population don’t have access to knowledge and information because it’s not available in their language.

This language gap prevents people from accessing information to help lift them out of poverty, get health care, recover from a crisis, or understand their rights.

It also contributes to a global communication power imbalance. Governments, humanitarian organizations, and other information gatekeepers typically do not engage in a global dialogue, they only share information from the top down. Sometimes they do not have the tools to publish and distribute information in marginalized languages. And people who speak these languages are not able to proactively share their needs, concerns, or ideas.

We are working to flip this power dynamic with Gamayun, the language equality initiative. Gamayun uses advanced language technology to increase language equality and improve two-way communication in marginalized languages. The ultimate goal is to shift control of communication, allowing everyone to share their voice and access information in the language and format they understand.

The initiative first focuses on gathering text and speech data that can make it easier to automate marginalized languages. Using this data, we can build advanced technology-driven solutions for both text- and voice-based communication. This cross-industry effort brings together technologists, native speaker communities, humanitarian organizations, content creators, and donors to fund investment in language data and technology, making it useful and accessible for all.

Over the next five years, our goal is to bring 10 marginalized languages online, creating a sustainable model to empower people through greater access to critical information and two-way communication, in their own language. Join us.

To learn more about Gamayun, or to support the initiative through funding, language data, or technology, please contact Sylvia Kaawe, Special Projects Program Coordinator, at sylvia@translatorswithoutborders.org.

Key supporters and partners include:





Read the latest updates on Gamayun

Funding from HGC will help build cutting edge text and voice-based language technology in languages of northeast Nigeria to capture, understand and analyze questions and concerns from conflict-affected people quickly and accurately.
Read more.

It’s only by prioritizing two-way communication tools that we can create more equitable communication and access to the information people need to stay healthy and informed. TWB’s first multilingual chatbot is a key part of making sure people have the health information they want, in their own language.
Read the story in English or French

Translators without Borders (TWB) and KoBo Inc. with funding from the Cisco Foundation, will develop automatic speech recognition technology to help humanitarians better collect data from speakers of marginalized languages in low-literacy contexts.
Read more.

Effective communication is the single most important factor in controlling COVID-19 — as every epidemiologist will tell you. It is time for disruption — for the entire humanitarian community to rethink the role of language and language technology. We must all invest in new language technologies if we want to generate real impact at speed.
Read more.

Uji is a multilingual chatbot that answers people’s questions about COVID-19 by engaging them in real conversations in their own language. It’s a key part of making sure everyone has COVID-19 information, in their own language.

Read more in English, Bangla, and French.

We have reached an important Gamayun milestone by leaping over the language barrier with a machine translation engine in Levantine Arabic. Here is how we got here, what we learned, and what is next.
Learn more.

Translators without Borders (TWB) has joined the Translation Initiative for COVID-19 (TICO-19). TICO-19 is focused on using language technology to make COVID-19 information available in as many languages as possible.
Learn more.

Machine translation requires vast amounts of data to be effective. Yet despite the rapid development of language technology for languages like French, Spanish, and German, languages of people living in parts of the world with less commercial power are being left behind. Unless we do something, this digital language gap will only continue to grow.
Learn more.

Services like Google Translate support only 100 languages, give or take. What about the thousands of other languages—spoken by people just as vulnerable to this crisis?
Learn more.

Twilio grant

Twilio, the leading cloud communications platform, today announced that the company’s social impact arm – Twilio.org – has awarded an additional $3.65 million in grants to 26 United States and global nonprofits to help expand their impact by enabling life-saving crisis communications.
Learn more.

ICTworks, a community focused on utilizing emerging technologies for international development, features TWB’s Gamayun initiative
Language technology offers solutions. Tools such as machine translation, natural language processing, and speech recognition technology can bridge the digital divide, while also presenting opportunities for better and more accountable aid to those who need it most.
Learn more.

TWB Kanuri Team Lead conducting comprehension research Nigeria Microsoft Philanthropies Language Technology

The organizations will develop scalable language technology to address ongoing humanitarian crises
Translators without Borders (TWB), with the support of Microsoft Philanthropies, is working to develop innovative language-focused solutions that can be used to help the over 177 million people who live in areas affected by humanitarian crises.
Learn more.

Cisco funding increases focus on developing language technology to improve two-way communication
Translators without Borders (TWB) has received funding from the Cisco Foundation, the corporate social responsibility partner of the global technology leader, to scale up Gamayun, the language equality initiative. 
Learn more.

Credit and copyright: Nick Lowndes / The Economist
We worked with the World Food Programme, PNGK, and Prompsit to develop a fit-for-purpose machine translation tool for Levantine Arabic. 
We built a custom machine-translation tool in just six weeks, incorporating domain-specific terminology and colloquialisms from social media. The results were promising, demonstrating that a tool like this could be useful in humanitarian contexts.
Learn more.

Language technology can help those in need use technology to proactively communicate and access information.
Hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest, least educated, most vulnerable populations often find themselves on the wrong side of a dangerous digital divide.
Learn more.

Health workers technology

Advancements in language automation are transforming the way the world communicates—but what about languages that lack a digital presence?
Read the white paper that followed the introduction of the initiative at the March 2017 Humanitarian Information and Communications Technology Forum.
Learn more.