Use of Digital Technology in Emergency Response

In order to successfully intervene in an emergency and recovery program, right data and reliable information is prime need. Proper disseminating information can expedite the relief and recovery. ICCO Cooperation uses therefore the Akvo technology to address the disaster. The Nepal earthquake in 2015 and the current Nepal/Bangladesh flood show how the tools work in practice.

Use of Digital Technology in Emergency Response


Nepal earthquake 2015

In the chaotic aftermath of Nepal earthquake 2015, one of the needs was ground information and proper information management to drive the interventions and build strategies. With the help of mobile based survey tool Akvo Flow, ICCO was able to get the information on the market situation, the need of people, damage assessment and mapping of impact on earthquakes. The result of the survey served the purpose of many organizations on verifying the preliminary information shared by government and humanitarian agencies.  Once the data are collected, it automatically gets uploaded to dashboard and information becomes instantly visible to users with graphics and maps.

ICCO had some remarkable experiences on data during recovery phase. After conducting the initial survey of one of the early recovery projects, the result showcased that the real need of winterization kits for earthquake affected families compared to shelter support materials. Going with the findings, the project team decided to intervene with winterization support and became the first one to do so in the country.

Bangladesh floods 2017

One of the major gaps in responding to floods in Bangladesh was the lack of mechanisms for affected communities to provide feedback to relief providers. As part of the disaster response work, ICCO piloted Akvo RSR , which enables community volunteers and field staff to add and publish real time updates (text with photos and videos) using their smartphones, as a community engagement tool. RSR updates are immediately available on the open-source internet, and has proven to be an effective tool for coordinating activities, sharing the (latest) needs/voices of the community, monitoring progress, and exchanging learnings.

In our emergency response project, we promote comprehensive two-way communication, so that relief and recovery activities of humanitarian actors are responsive to the issues that are most strongly felt in the communities they serve. Take a look at the mobile-enabled community feedback that is being gathered through RSR in Gaibandha. These updates are then analyzed and emerging key themes are distributed to higher level decision makers within the humanitarian structures through a Community Feedback Summary, published by Shonjog, the national multi-stakeholder platform on two-way communication (supported by DFID and chaired by Department of Disaster Management, with membership including UN agencies, national and international NGOs and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society).

Technology for proper interventions

By building knowledge out of information collected through Akvo tools, ICCO is trying to mitigate potential risks, come up with innovative ideas and develop proper interventions. The use of Akvo in emergency response and recovery pushes ICCO to advocate on preparing more robust mechanisms for potential disasters.

Raisa Chowdhury, Regional Communications and Marketing Manager and 
Saugat Gautam, Information & Knowledge Management Officer, ICCO Cooperation – Nepal

Author Raisa Chowdhury and Saugat Gautam
More articles by Raisa Chowdhury and Saugat Gautam

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