Is Ubiquitous Technology for Needs Data Management a Game Changer in Humanitarian Arena?

Is Ubiquitous Technology for Needs Data Management a Game Changer in Humanitarian Arena?

Punya Prasad Sapkota, Kashif Siddiqi
DOI: 10.4018/IJISCRAM.2019010105
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One in every 70 people around the world is caught up in a crisis (natural disasters, conflict, climate change, etc.) and urgently needs humanitarian assistance and protection according to the OCHA. The humanitarian community assists millions of people every year based on emerging humanitarian needs. Most of the time, the conditions inside the countries, once the humanitarian needs data is collected, are not very conducive and required simple ways to collect data like paper-based data collection with simple questions. This data is later entered into a database or spreadsheet using rigorous and time-consuming data entry efforts. Dynamic changes in needs of people; numbers of partners involved; the complexity of evolving processes; and emerging technologies over time has led to a change in processes for data collection and management. This article is an attempt to capture humanitarian data collection best practices and the use of different technologies in managing data to facilitate humanitarian needs assessment processes for the Syria crisis.
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2. Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (Msna)

A multi-sector needs assessment (MSNA) is a collaborative effort of the humanitarian community to collect primary data to identify the number of People in Need (PiN), where they are located and quantum and severity of their needs. The MSNA in Syria is based on the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Multi-Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) (Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), 2015) guidelines which were customized and improved for the Syrian context over the years. The MSNA is a key element of the Humanitarian Program Cycle (HPC) that is used to develop the evidence-based Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Humanitarian Programme Cycle


Syrian Arab republic, with nine years of continuous hostilities and conflict, constitutes one of the biggest displacements and protection crises in the world in recent time, with more than 5.6 million refugees and 6.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs). The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)1 has classified Syria humanitarian crisis as Level 3 (L3) emergency which is activated in the most complex and challenging humanitarian emergencies when highest level of mobilization of resources is required across the humanitarian system. In such a large-scale humanitarian crisis, the humanitarian system requires notable efforts to gather timely and accurate information for the country-wide analysis of needs and informed prioritization of resources.


3. Methodology For Msna

To support effective humanitarian response in different countries like Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen and Syrian Arab Republic, the humanitarian coordination system has successfully designed and implemented MSNA to collect primary needs data at the lowest geographic level (i.e. community level) that follows the IASC guidelines and methodology (Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), 2012; Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), 2015).

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