The Need for Increased Collaboration

The world we live in is certainly not a perfect place. There are a number of things that need to be done to improve it. Sometimes governments set out on improving it, sometimes non-profit organizations set out on improving it and sometimes concerned citizens set out on improving it. Each of these stakeholders has their own vision of the problem at hand and ideas about how to solve them. That vision is very much dependent upon their own vision of life and what they feel confident in doing.
Lets take an example to clarify things. For anyone who has visited the slums of Africa, you are touched by the hard life of people living in dire poverty, lack access to clean water, education, shelter and livelihood. Yet you also see a magnitude of organizations trying to help. Even the government has their own programs trying to address some parts of the problem. You will see an organization focusing on educating the children. You will see another organization focusing on providing healthcare services. You will see yet another organization focusing on creating sustainable livelihood opportunities. Each one of those organizations provides a small piece in a big puzzle, which is to improve the life of slum dwellers.

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New High-Speed Network Connects Dadaab Aid Agencies For Collaboration

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.

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The Evolution of Remittances

As a father of four, I am very familiar with remittances.  When my first son went off to college, I gave him an envelope of cash.  My second child got a monthly check in the mail from Mom and Dad.  Never one to wait for the mail my third child opened a joint account with us so I could make deposits locally and he could make withdrawals at the local bank branch on campus.  With my fourth, we moved to the world of interoperable ATMs; deposits and withdrawals then happened on any street in any city and even abroad.  Now, we are in the digital age and any transfers can be done online with immediate effect. 

I have been thinking a lot about this evolution in my own family as I watch the leading role remittances are playing in the growth of mobile money systems around the world.  M-Pesa was created initially to serve the market for remittances in Kenya.  M-Pesa now is used by over 15 million Kenyans and in 2011 Safaricom reported that value of transactions processed through the M-PESA platform was equivalent to 20% of Kenya’s GDP.  In Central America, Tigo Money makes remittances easy and even advertises its service on bags of Frito Lays chips sold in small markets around Guatemala as witnessed by Hamilton McNutt, a member of NetHope’s Payment Innovations team who traveled to Guatemala in March.

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Open Humanitarian Initiative: Improving Disaster Response

Last year was the costliest year in natural disasters that the world has ever seen. According to a report issued by global reinsurance firm Munich Re, world disasters in 2011 caused damages exceeding more than a third of a trillion dollars. And, experts at The World Bank predict that natural disasters will only get worse in the future, largely due to two powerful trends: burgeoning cities and a changing climate.

As the world prepares to cope with the high costs and other devastating effects of future earthquakes, tsunamis and more, it must find a better way to manage the chaotic environment that follows these disasters.

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Sense and Sensibility: Technical Solutions and Humanitarian Practitioners

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.

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Where Are They Now? Emmanuella Stimphat

Leading up to the graduation of NetHope Academy Haiti’s second class this week, we will be featuring a series of “Where Are They Now?” stories featuring NetHope Academy interns that graduated from the inaugural Haiti class last year. We will also feature a profile from a soon-to-be graduated intern in conclusion of our series. Our second narrative comes from Emmanuella Stimphat:

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Tech for a Brighter Future: The Humanitarian Cloud

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.

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Tech for a Brighter Future: Youth with ICT Skills

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.

The Arab Spring taught us in 2011 that the youth bulge is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. In the Middle East 60 percent of the population is under the age of 25, which sociologists and demographers believe introduces incredible promise for the region’s development but also the potential for a missed opportunity with great consequence. The youth bulge is not just a regional challenge; it is problem plaguing most developing countries where educated youth struggle to find employment.

Countries should prioritize giving opportunities to young people because a disaffected youth could equate to the loss of fresh thinkers, innovation and heightened security risks for an emerging economy’s future.

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Tech for a Brighter Future: Mobile Money

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.

In the developing world, billions of dollars in cash is exchanged every month between governments, companies and donor agencies for various reasons: salary, social welfare payments, cash-for-work programs, emergency relief and money transfers. The majority of these payments are given in physical cash, but advancements in technology and network capabilities have introduced safer, speedier, more reliable and transparent ways for exchanging those funds.

Replacing physical cash payments with electronic payments provides improvements for governments and communities alike. For instance, when the Government of Afghanistan started paying government employees and police officers through mobile phones via a grant from USAID, it immediately cut out so much graft that some employees actually thought they were getting at 30 percent raise. Mobile money also makes it easier to tax the transactions and root out ‘ghost’ payrolls.

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Connecting the Most Marginalized and Those That Support Them

Visiting refugee “camps” is always a life changing experience.  In September my work with NetHope took me to the Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya. Over 200,000 refugees (mostly from Somalia) have lived in Dadaab camp since the early 1990’s.  In the last year, the camp size has grown to almost 500,000 refugees as the flight of Somalis to neighboring Kenya has accelerated due to the life threatening food crisis in the Horn of Africa. It is hard to think of these as “camps” because they are the middle of the desert, with no electricity and very limited clean water supply. There is almost nothing there that we would associate with a “camp.”

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