Humanitarian relief projects involve massive undertakings, and often organizations employ hundreds or even thousands of aid workers to get the job done. It’s no surprise then that relief efforts require huge amounts of logistic planning and coordination.

This can be difficult to achieve accurately and quickly as communication infrastructure may be downed or poorly developed to begin with.

Further, it is difficult to track the individual efforts of aid workers across large developing, or vastly affected regions. As a result, relief may be slow, disorganized, and ineffective. In order to deliver aid more quickly and efficiently, the UN has teamed up with San Francisco based tech company Frog to develop the Humanitarian Data Exchange, or HDX for short.

The goal of the project is to streamline humanitarian data. In the past, relief workers compiled thousands of documents and data points in a variety of formats. The HDX standardizes the methods in which data is entered and collected, thus making finding specific data points easier with less crucial time wasted.

The HDX contains numerous data points, most complied by aid workers on the ground. The network can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection. Users then search for a specific dataset using a basic search engine.

The data includes region-specific populations, available medical services and their inventories, national poverty indexes, the number of homeless in the area, and hundreds of others.

The UN first implemented the HDX in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic. Currently, aid workers coordinating earthquake relief efforts are most actively using the HDX in Nepal.

The HDX has currently 76 different datasets for Nepal; many of these include maps and topographical information, as remote Nepalese regions are difficult to traverse due to limited infrastructure.

Nepal is not the only country benefitting from more efficient aid; the HDX lists data in 244 locations. Data is available to the public as well, and can be found at their website.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Forbes 1, Forbes 2, RW Labs
Photo: Forbes

Five Easy Steps to Develop a CountryAccording to the Human Development Index, most of the world’s developed countries are located in Europe and North America while large swaths of Africa and Asia remain underdeveloped (South America falls somewhere in the middle). In addition to population size problems, these developing nations have to deal with political pressure revolving around the use of environmentally sustainable measures of growth—pressures that did not exist when currently developed nations were in their growth spurts. Discussed below are five easy steps to help develop a country and guide the growth of future international trading partners.


Five Easy Steps to Develop a Country


1. Share resources

Obviously, the fewer resources an average family uses, the lower the nation’s ecological footprint. Developing countries may not be able to afford electric or semi-electric cars, but their people can conserve both money and oxygen by carpooling, riding bikes and reusing grocery bags.

At the level of foreign advocacy, there are already influential notables arguing for the synergy between alleviating poverty and quelling climate change. Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, warned against resorting to high-carbon-intensive resources to help impoverished countries. “The world is underinvesting in infrastructure, especially in developing countries where there are the largest unmet needs,” he wrote recently. For this reason, he encouraged governments not to separate climate and environmental funds from foreign aid, arguing that the two had to go hand-in-hand in order to produce long-term benefits.


2. Promote education

All levels of education are important stepping-stones to development, from the fundamentals of kindergarten, to the advanced quantum physics courses at the university. Each class ought to be taught with the overarching goals of quality of life and economic improvement in mind. Education stops terrorist groups from gaining strength and trains doctors and scientists to research and cure diseases. It is one of the primary movers that help impoverished nations to help themselves. Studies have shown that the greater number of mean years children attend school, the healthier that nation’s economy becomes.


3. Empower women

Education is most valuable to a developing country’s most vulnerable groups. The most common demographic among all of these populations—farmers, small-scale producers, victims of epidemics and terrorist groups—are women. Children of both genders are vulnerable as well, but the impoverished boys who do not die prematurely or join the terrorists are more likely to have enough social mobility to get educated and leave than girls. In the least educated African countries—Somalia, Niger, Liberia, Mali and Burkina Faso—over 70 percent of girls between seven and 16 have never attended school.

By empowering women and equalizing academic opportunity, countries can increase incomes by an average of 23 percent. They can do this by investing in schools closer to rural areas so that the children of farmers do not have to walk hours each day to get to and from school, straining their parents’ time and resources in the process. That way, neither parents nor children would feel pressure to force a decision between farm work and schoolwork and the poorest populations could begin to make progress.


4. Negotiate strategic political relations

Americans have seen firsthand what happens when big businesses and lobbyists become too deeply involved with politicians. When it happens in third-world countries, their poorest, most disadvantaged citizens are the ones who suffer. This often leads to violent uprisings with scads of victims on both sides. There’s a reason why college majors such as international relations and politics are practically universal. Aligning with people who have considerable political power and pathetically few scruples seldom benefits the poorer country. For that reason it is imperative that the educated learn to choose their political allies carefully in order to make the greatest leaps in ecological, economic and humanitarian development.


5. Reform the systems of food and aid distribution

So many millions of people still suffer from world hunger each day. Their problem springs less from stinginess among foreign taxpayers, but from inefficient systems of distribution. As Senegalese entrepreneur Magatte Wade recently explained, the bulk of taxpayer money filtering in from more affluent countries does not actually pay for African or Asian aid partly due to deep flaws in the regulations and in large part because of theft. “Look no further than the people who make most of that money,” she advised. “That’s where the money ends up.”

Here again, the rally call ought to be to support Africans rather than the inexperienced, inadvertently patronizing, members of the aid business. Instead of pouring money into resources, shipping and energy costs, she says, developed countries ought to invest in local African businesses so that the people can more effectively improve their own circumstances without having to resort to the whims of potentially corrupt and incompetent leaders.

Leah Zazofsky

Sources: Business Green,  World Education Blog 1,  World Education Blog 2,  The Guardian,  American Thinker
Photo: International Development Research Centre