The United States is providing nearly $25 million in additional humanitarian aid to help the Philippines deal with the enormous devastation and deaths wrought by Typhoon Haiyan last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday after touring the worst-hit region. Kerry flew to central Tacloban city, where he was overwhelmed by the vast landscape of wrecked villages. He visited a food distribution centre run by USAID and government welfare officers, talked with officials and consoled survivors. "This is a devastation unlike anything that I have ever seen at this scale," Kerry said at a temporary USAID headquarters in Tacloban. "It is really quite stunning," he said. "It looks like a war zone and to many people it is." The new food aid, shelter materials, water and other supplies he announced for typhoon-lashed families bring the total U.S. assistance package to $86 million for one of its closest Asian allies. Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/u-s-sending-25m-in-new-aid-to-typhoon-ravage...
The rapid deployment of engineers by international and national telecommunications companies to hard-hit areas of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan demonstrates the private sector’s increasingly vital role in relief efforts. With more mobile phone subscriptions than people in the Philippines (107 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people), and industry estimates of at least one billion text messages sent daily, analysts say the telecommunications industry is not only able to re-connect the estimated 3.8 million displaced people with their families, but is also an ideal vehicle for raising relief funds. Telecommunications play a critical role in disaster preparedness and response by disseminating early warning messages, tracing survivors and providing vital aid information, said Kyla Reid, the head of disaster response at the London-headquartered Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), a trade organization representing more than 800 mobile network operators worldwide. Within 72 hours after Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) hit the central Philippines on 8 November, international mobile companies Vodafone and Ericsson deployed teams equipped with emergency kits to help local providers get the network running again: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99234/telecom-led-relief-in-the-philippines
No longer content to import technology, Africans are using cellphones to spur indigenous innovation. Tired of hearing friends in Accra, Ghana, fret over the specter of home invasions, Herman Chinery-Hesse launched a text-messaging security service earlier this year that both addresses the problem of poor police response to property crimes and takes advantage of tight-knit neighborhoods. More at http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/africans-dial-up-innovation
Dr Patrick Meier's presentation on the future of humanitarian response given at the UN's Global Humanitarian Policy Forum in New York, December 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWvVglGwEVk#t=21
In this talk, Patrick notes that local communities will increasingly become tech-enabled first responders, thus taking pressure off the international humanitarian system. These tech savvy local communities already exit. And they already respond to both “natural” (and man-made) disasters vis-a-vis the information products produced by tech-savvy local Filipino groups. The rise of tech-enabled self-help should be noted by traditional humanitarian groups that humanitarian response in 2025 will continue to happen with or without them; and perhaps increasingly without them.
Speakers at the launching of World Disasters Report 2013 highlighted the use of technology in increasing resilience of disaster-prone communities. The World Disasters Report was jointly launched by Pakistan Red Crescent Society and (PRCS) International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) here on Tuesday December 10, 2013. Addressing at the occasion, member of the PRCS managing body Mian Muhammad Javed, who was the chief guest, said the report has served to remind us of the vital role technology plays in so many aspects of humanitarian work. PRCS supports the notion that the government and other humanitarian agencies must fully commit to and invest in developing the tools, policies and strategies to improve dialogue with disaster-affected communities; however, such humanitarian technology and use of information must remain ethical and focused on principles of humanity and humanitarian imperative: