Water is an essential part of life and roughly one in ten of the world’s population—748 million people—do not have access to safe water. In South Asia, about 1.5 billion people are affected by water stress and scarcity, due to increasing demand for water resources; as the climate changes, this may worsen the situation.
Treating water as a precious natural resource important for all, brings new perspective to sustainable water resource management and long-term sustainable growth in the Ganges-Brahmaputra river basin both upstream in India and downstream in Bangladesh. A World Bank initiative serves as a linchpin for developing an inclusive analytical framework that promotes access to water, improved efficiency, climate resilience and poverty alleviation in South Asia. So, the question arises: Is this too ambitious and is it achievable?
Mapping impact on houses in Tacloban
In the aftermath of a disaster, lack of information about the affected areas can hamper relief and recovery efforts. Open-source mapping tools provide a much-needed low-cost high-tech opportunity to bridge this gap and provide localized information that can be freely used and further developed.
A week ago, devastating typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. As the images of the horrifying destruction emerge, there is a clear need in accessing localized high-resolution information that can guide communities’ recovery and reconstruction. Responding to this challenge, over 766 volunteers have been activated by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to create baseline geographic data which can be freely used by the Philippine government, donors and partner organizations to support all phases of disaster recovery.
Disaster management 2.0: scalable human connections fired by high technology
Scalability, virtual communities and Web 2.0 have changed the world of disaster response. The most successful and disruptive inventions of modern times owe much of their success to scalability. Although people always had the ability to read books, it was only with the invention of the printing press that it became possible for millions of people to do so. Web 2.0 and social media make the ability to connect with people scalable. Scalable human connections combined with open source software and platforms, and unprecedented computing power, results in human-machine synergy also being scaled up. This human-machine synergy results in disruptive technology innovations. Such disruptive innovations have most recently been seen in the area of humanitarian support to disaster and conflict affected countries. USB drives were an innovation that disrupted the market for floppy disks. Although they are not likely to go the way of the floppy disk, the world of traditional disaster relief organizations with proprietary systems, closed data sets and bureaucracy have been up-ended by the disruptive human-machine synergies of Web 2.0 and crowd-sourced humanitarian volunteer organizations.