Digital Rights Fund for WANA (DRF) 2024 (Up to $10,000 Grant)

Over time, SMEX has observed and documented instances of human rights abuses on the internet in West Asia and North Africa, all while advocating for a free and open online environment. As they anticipate additional obstacles in the region beyond 2024, they acknowledge the necessity to adapt and strengthen their efforts in upholding digital rights.

Digital Rights Fund for WANA (DRF) 2024
Digital Rights Fund for WANA (DRF) 2024

In light of these evolving challenges, they are launching the Digital Rights Fund for WANA (DRF). The primary objective of this initiative is to empower individuals, informal groups, and organizations to effectively confront threats and violations against digital rights on the internet.

By offering grants and support, with a maximum amount of $10,000, they aim to cultivate a more inclusive and fair digital society that stands united in safeguarding digital freedoms even during challenging times.

Grant Focus Areas

The Digital Rights Fund for WANA encourages individuals to apply whose work pertains to the following focus areas:

  • Surveillance, Spyware, and Cybercrime: Surveillance negatively impacts the efforts of social justice organizations.
  • Cybercrime is similarly increasing with numerous instances of hacking, phishing, identity theft, and ransomware attacks.
  • Internet censorship and content moderation: Despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of expression in most WANA countries, this right is frequently obstructed by ambiguous and expansive legislation that breaches global human rights standards, thereby criminalizing legitimate speech.


  • Supporting Human Rights Defenders: Their aim is to strengthen human rights defenders in the WANA region by offering sub-grants to individuals, informal groups, unregistered organizations, and entities. This support enables defenders to persist in their crucial work despite digital threats.
  • Upholding Digital Rights: Through their sub-grants, they support projects that safeguard digital rights and shield individuals and communities from online dangers. They firmly believe that protecting these rights is essential for achieving social justice.
  • Developing Cybersecurity Resilience: The WANA region suffers from a shortage of cybersecurity infrastructure and skilled professionals. To address this gap, the initiative provides resources and training, empowering organizations to enhance their defences against cyber threats.
  • Advancing Freedom of Expression: Actively aiding those who combat internet censorship and restrictive content moderation, they strive to foster open dialogue and create a more inclusive and fair digital society.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for the grant, applicants need to fulfil the following eligibility requirements:

  • Geographical Focus: Applicants must be based in the Southwest Asia and North Africa (WANA) region, which includes countries situated in West Asia and North Africa.
  • Project Alignment: Proposed plans must align with one or more of the designated focus areas, such as surveillance, spyware, cybercrime, internet censorship, and content moderation within the SWANA region.
  • Entities: Individuals, informal groups, unregistered organizations, and established entities that are dedicated to upholding digital rights in the WANA (West Asia and North Africa) region are regarded as suitable entities.
  • Digital Rights Commitment: The applicant must demonstrate an authentic commitment to promoting digital rights, safeguarding freedom of expression, and addressing online dangers in the WANA region.

Assessment Criteria

Proposals will undergo evaluation based on the following criteria:

  • Feasibility: The practicality of project implementation strategies and their alignment with available resources.
  • Efficiency: The effectiveness and efficiency of proposed activities in achieving project goals.
  • Relevance: The direct relevance of projects to addressing digital rights issues in the WANA region.
  • Effectiveness: The potential of projects to bring about meaningful change and foster inclusivity in the digital landscape.
  • Sustainability: The potential for the proposed initiatives to be sustainable and have a lasting impact.
  • Alignment with SMEX’s Vision: The extent to which proposed projects align with SMEX’s overarching program objectives, emphasizing the protection of digital rights and the promotion of equitable societal development.

Application process

To apply for the Digital Rights Fund for WANA please fill out the online application form .

For more information please visit the official website of Digital Rights Fund for WANA (DRF).

Application Deadline

Not specified



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