At the United Nations General Assembly this week, the UN and the World Bank, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM), the first global partnership dedicated to preventing famine. With support from the world’s leading tech companies, the FAM aims to use data and state-of-the-art technology to pair decision-makers with better, earlier famine warnings and pre-arranged financing.
Almost 85 percent of them are hosted by low or middle countries with limited resources such as Jordan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Turkey, and Bangladesh. These countries face enormous challenges in meeting the needs of refugees while continuing to grow and develop themselves.
I visited Jordan in 2014 and 2016 and was struck by the generosity and hospitality of this small, middle-income country, which accepted the influx of more than 740,000 refugees of the Syrian war and other conflicts (and that only counts the number officially registered by the UN Refugee Agency!) In 2017, Jordan had 89 refugees per 1,000 people –the second-highest concentration in the world. Its services and economy were under tremendous strain. The refugees themselves were frustrated by lack of opportunity to support themselves.
When considering support for refugees and their host communities, gender based violence (GBV) is a great concern that requires special care and attention.
Unfortunately, violence against women and girls is all too common in many countries across the globe. Drivers of GBV include entrenched social norms that perpetuate power imbalances between men and women, and more generally circumscribe women’s agency and voice in communities and in the home. Despite a recent increase in reporting, data suggest that 45 percent of women who have experienced GBV did not seek help or tell anyone, and there are striking regional differences.
When Dara Dotz, an industrial designer, travelled to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010, she saw firsthand the supply chain challenges people were facing that had life threatening consequences – most vividly, a nurse having to use her medical gloves to tie off the umbilical cords of newborn babies, because she didn’t have access to an umbilical clamp. Deploying a 3D printer, Dara was able to design a locally manufactured, inexpensive plastic clamp that could be used in the local hospitals for newborns.
From there, Dara co-founded Field Ready, an NGO that is part of the “maker movement,” which pilots new technologies to rapidly manufacture components of essential supplies in the field. Using 3D printing and a range of software, Field Ready works with volunteers to make lifesaving medical components like IV bag hooks, oxygen splitters, and umbilical cord clamps, an approach that has often proven to be both quicker and cheaper than waiting for shipments to arrive.
This is one example of local innovation and design in disaster situations. Communities and governments need to think creatively and find new ways to build resilience, and some of the latest developments in science and technology can provide promising solutions.
Over the past few decades, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of information and data that is open and available – whether from satellites and drones collecting data from above, or from crowdsourced information and social media from citizens on the ground. When analyzed holistically, this data can provide valuable insight for understanding the risks and establishing a common operating picture.
Humanitarian organizations have very tough choices to make when it comes to deciding who receives assistance. In principle, humanitarian assistance should be for everyone, but with all the crises going on in the world today, budgetary support for these kinds of operations cannot keep up with the rapidly growing need for assistance.
As efforts continue to improve the global response to forced displacement, the World Bank Group and UNHCR are setting up a new joint data center that will better support refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless people, returnees, asylum-seekers, and host communities. The two organizations recently agreed to establish the center in Copenhagen based on recommendations from an independent selection panel, backed by a generous contribution from the government of Denmark.
Why a new data center? With all the data that is available today, you may wonder why anyone would need more data. What kind of data are we talking about here, and wouldn’t this overlap with what other organizations are doing already?
When I first visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007 as a public health researcher, I was trying to understand the complex issue of how young men get recruited into rebel groups in war-torn regions of central Africa. What I learned was both surprising and heartbreaking: a person who experienced war violence as a child could be more likely to engage in conflict as a young adult. Young men who had experienced extreme war violence in their past would often state this as a reason to take up arms. Even more tragically, these same young men would often struggle to reintegrate peacefully into their communities when hostilities ended. The violence they had experienced their whole lives through war persisted within their homes and communities even when formal peace was declared.
. More than two million of these refugees and undocumented returnees have returned since 2015. Recent surges in returns such as the 2016 spike of over 600,000 returnees from Pakistan were recorded in just six months.
Most returnees relocate to urban and peri-urban areas where they find limited job opportunities and inadequate access to essential services, thus jeopardizing their reintegration prospects and fueling secondary displacement. Therefore, .
To that end, the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed a data sharing agreement (DSA), which formalizes an existing partnership between the two organizations in Afghanistan.
the world’s population – lack safe spaces in which they can thrive?
That's why the United Nations theme for International Youth Day this year focuses on “Safe Spaces for Youth.” These are spaces where young people can safely engage in governance issues, participate in sports and other leisure activities, interact virtually with anyone in the world, and find a haven, especially for the most vulnerable.
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