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Using ICT to Facilitate Access to Information and Accountability to Affected Populations in Urban Areas

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There is a growing recognition among the humanitarian community that crises are increasingly happening in urban areas, requiring different methods and approaches for humanitarian response. Humanitarian actors have found that traditional approaches to aid assistance – which have often been developed for rural or camp contexts – are ill-suited to the particular challenges presented by urban settings in which crisis affected populations are often widely distributed across diverse communities with high population density. As part of a concerted effort across the humanitarian community to recognise and address the growing and unique needs of crisis-affected people in urban settings, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and partners have invested in the development and testing of information communication technology (ICT) solutions to some of the challenges urban populations face. ICT solutions are particularly relevant for urban contexts given the unique features which they present to humanitarian actors, including:

  1. Diverse populations living in the same area with different needs;
  2. Populations which are geographically dispersed and often difficult to reach or purposefully hidden;
  3. Dynamic movement of populations that often need information on-the-go;
  4. High number of service providers operating in close proximity; and
  5. A higher likelihood of crisis-affected people’s access to internet due to smartphone availability and internet network coverage

This report outlines the findings from an assessment that was carried out between September 2016 and April 2017 by ServiceInfo and Refugee.Info, drawing on perspectives and reflections from stakeholders across the humanitarian spectrum, including affected populations themselves. The objectives of this study were to describe how these platforms work, provide recommendations for how they might be improved, and explore how these platforms might become more sustainable over time. The findings within this report are intended for both internal IRC audiences as well as external audiences within the sector interested in ICT solutions for affected populations in urban crises.

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