The world needs to stop simply responding to humanitarian crises and to start pro-actively preparing for and attempting to prevent crises before they happen with better data and better analytics, that was the resounding message throughout the 2019 Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) in Geneva, Switzerland.
“We cannot wait until crises are visibly causing suffering and costing lives – we need to act early and invest in prevention…” said Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, during the opening session. “To get ahead of disasters, action triggers must be backed up by strong data and predictive analytics,” she added.
Forecast-based emergency management is an emerging trend in the humanitarian world, as crises continue to grow in both length and number. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) World Humanitarian Trends and Data 2018 the average length of crises has nearly doubled, from four to seven years since 2005. In addition, some 350 million people are affected by crisis annually. (Vector Center recently joint-published on “Water and Conflict” in OCHA’s report).
Refining the tools and methodologies to better predict when and crises will hit is one of the top priority of many humanitarian aid agencies, according to the presenters and participants of the HNPW. The annual conference brings together more than 2,000 participants from the UN, NGOs, national governments, the private sector, the military, and academia to better coordinate humanitarian response. This was the first year Vector Center attended the conference as a participant.