In one of the world’s most dangerous places, tracking aid has gone digital.
Even in a conflict zone like Afghanistan’s Helmand province, now the center of NATO’s anti-terror operations, project oversight has become possible with the use of GPS cameras. U.S. charity Mercy Corps, which implements projects of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been using this technology to check on aid projects in areas where sending expatriate staff was too risky.
Under this remote oversight scheme, Mercy Corps send Afghan staff with GPS cameras are sent to project sites to document progress and track personnel. The data is then uploaded to Google Earth for project officers to see online.
Mercy Corps’ John Stephens told Wired.com that the system “extends the reach of our program managers” and allows the organization to “expand the service to communities where it’s too insecure to work, or too remote.”
Earlier this month, USAID drew criticism for lack of oversight in Afghanistan after contractors told the U.S. Senate that aid officials skipped site visits and usually checked on the progress of projects through email.