Communications capacity and tools are the lifeline of any major emergency response effort such as the fight to combat the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa. And quality information, made accessible to key decision makers, is paramount in enabling responders to make timely, informed decisions that save lives and ease human suffering.
In Tacloban, everything was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan: raised houses, destroyed bridges, blocked roads, disrupted communications; and tens of thousands of people were affected, and needed help.
The international rescue teams who arrived on the archipelago soon after the disaster struck were met with major logistical challenges, as they tried to access areas that had been isolated by the devastation. NGOs needed help that could fly.
Since July 2011, the worst drought and famine in East Africa in more than 60 years placed severe strain on the multitude of humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab, Kenya – the world’s largest refugee camp with a population exceeding 500,000 individuals. The unprecedented number of displaced people required a massive scale-up of operations by USAID-funded humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab. To meet mission goals and to save lives, significant improvements and increases in Internet connectivity were essential.
The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years has placed strain on humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab, Kenya and calls for better-coordinated relief efforts. The crisis has threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa since early 2011. Refugees from Somalia continue to arrive in Kenya by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex now the world’s largest refugee camp ever with almost 500,000 counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered. Responding aid organizations are stretched to their limits as they try and provide critical life-sustaining services such as food, housing, sanitation and medical relief to those in Dadaab. To make matters even more difficult, Somali-based terrorist organization al Shebaab recently escalated activities in and around the camps. Security has been heightened to ensure the safety of contractors, staff and refugees.
To answer the pressing challenges encountered by agencies working in the Dadaab camp, NetHope, Inveneo and Cisco came together to create a new collaboration network that enables humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate better with other organizations and to better support operations.
I have a confession to make… I will never be a techie. I will never be fascinated by how an appliance works, never be thrilled by opening something to see how it is wired, and never be carried away by software codes or new, integrated solutions.
I am fascinated by the art of information management though: how data is collected, collated, analysed and processed into information. When it comes to emergency response, we always endeavour to improve the quality of information to make more qualified decisions in disasters. In a rapidly changing emergency environment, information is rendered useless for decision-making if not disseminated at the right time to the right recipient in the right format.
This blog is part of a NetHub series that looks at technology trends that will help to shape a bright global future. Read more on the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and NetHope here.
Cloud technology is revolutionizing how we are able to share, deploy and maintain solutions across the world. Cloud solutions are built on lean infrastructure that can be scaled up and down as needed, yet they require significantly less cost.
Cloud-based services power many of the successful ICT projects being used by the 34 humanitarian organizations that make up our membership.