Thursday, October 17, 2013

World Disaster Report 2013

Since 1993 the 'World Disaster Report' has been an annual examination of trends in humanitarian aid covering topics ranging from: Public Health and Ethics in Aid, to Urban Risk and Hunger & Malnutrition. Produced by the International Federation of Red Crescent Societies in partnership with Harvard's Humanitarian Initiative, this report aims to track trends, highlight facts, and analyze contemporary events and their impacts on populations worldwide.

The subject of this year's report focuses on the impact technological innovation has had on humanitarian action. It examines the progress made in reducing lives lost through the innovation and integration of tech. It also devotes a chapter to understanding two important assumptions: "that adding technology is inevitable and that doing so will generate progress." While not having read the chapter yet, I appreciate that there is an examination of the risks involved given the rapid transformation of how we use technology, and how those risks could potentially impact how humanitarian aid is delivered. With many new innovations, we tend to gloss over the bad in favor of the good, so the honest approach to both sides of the 'tech in aid' issue is welcomed.

I hope that after reading through the document that one comes away with a sense of optimism that technology can and will continue to play an important role in reducing loss of life and property due to disasters, and to remember that technology should remain a means to an end and not an end in and of itself.

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