How can the humanitarian community maximize use of new technologies?

A woman benefits from a mobile cash transfer program by Oxfam in Haiti. Oxfam International / CC BY-NC-ND

There is huge potential to improve humanitarian response if the international community can maximize the use of new technology, such as branchless banking and mobile cash transfers.

This is according to a new report that encourages the humanitarian community to strengthen its links with the information and communication technology sector. The report suggests establishing a new agency to oversee this relationship. The agency would also be responsible for moderating technological development for aid, promote the adoption of e-payment standards and develop guidelines for cash transfers, the report says.

In addition to creating an agency, the report urges the humanitarian community to collaborate with service providers to improve existing mobile networks and branchless banking systems. There is no need to develop new solutions if existing ones can be scaled up and improved, it argues. The report also warns against introducing new technologies in disaster-hit areas with limited infrastructure to begin with.

Further, the report stresses the need to develop the aid community’s capacity to use new technology during humanitarian disasters.

As for donors, the report says they should offer incentives to encourage the private sector to develop platforms for humanitarian uses and to support aid agencies’ adoption of such platforms and related technology.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.