Thursday, May 13, 2010

Communications for Humanitarian Intervention

I attended recently a webinar organized by the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research from Harvard University about the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on humanitarian action. The participants were professionals belonging to various NGOs and organisations with a record of activity in conflict and emergency situations, as for example the recent Haiti earthquake.

Even we are fully aware of the tremendous impact of the ICT (cell phones, Skype, Twitter) on the humanitarian relief operations and consequently on saving lives, there are still lots of questions regarding the general reliability and the risks involved. But still, it is a great potential regarding the possibility to create and mobilize communities - mostly on a volunteering basis - for gathering support in crisis humanitarian situations. You have the opportunity to map a certain situation on the ground, for example, and to identify people able to intervene. The technical background is very important, including from the point of view of selecting the messages according to a guaranteed reliability. Even, as one of the speakers outlined, "Facebook and Twitter are ungouvernable", the sense of responsability is the first step to increase the sense of community and the general responsability for what we do and how we act in supporting people in need.

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