It is currently predicted that there are more than 130 million people worldwide in need of humanitarian assistance. All over the world, humanitarian workers strive to provide assistance to those affected by disasters and complex emergencies. World Humanitarian Day (WHD), which takes place every year on 19 August, recognises the aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilises people to advocate for humanitarian action.
“World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
Humanitarianism has changed dramatically over the past decades, as along with changing geopolitical landscapes, new types of organisations have increasingly played a role in supporting humanitarian activities. The role of technology has increased too, with access to connectivity and communication allowing for the digitisation of many humanitarian offerings.
Advances in technology and the ubiquity of mobile communication has ushered in a new way for the global community to interact and understand the suffering of others. It has provided new opportunities for affected communities to mobilise and respond, for humanitarian actors to engage, and offers improvements and efficiency gains in the delivery of assistance. However there is still a long way to go before we can say that the digitisation of aid has yielded the transformative potential it promises.
For that reason, the GSMA announced at the World Humanitarian Summit its commitment to provide advisory support on the opportunities and challenges of mobile cash disbursements in humanitarian settings. This builds on the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, which unites over 60 mobile industry players in over 50 countries around a shared set of principles to improve preparedness and response capacity (read more).
The mobile industry has played a leading role in delivering life-saving services to those who need it most. Mobile operators such as Turkcell, Ooredoo, Vodafone and Axiata have invested and innovated to create solutions and services before, during and after disaster strikes. The Humanitarian Connectivity Charter provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements made by our mobile operator members, reaffirm our commitment to improving our ability to respond and to identify new areas where mobile technology can have a profound impact on the lives of those affected by crisis.
As new actors and new technologies become integrated into humanitarian action, there is an increasing need to ensure that these new tools and communities reflect the core notions that engaging in the humanitarian space is predicated on. Effective collaboration will be key to ensuring that these solutions best meet the needs of the people who need them most, that they are sustainable and that they are impactful. World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to reflect on the principles of humanitarianism, to celebrate those who embody them through their work and to consider how we can continue to best support those affected by humanitarian disasters.
Note on WHD 2016:
This World Humanitarian Day, the UN and its partners are calling for global solidarity with the more than 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive. Under the theme of ‘One Humanity’, World Humanitarian Day will highlight how the world came together in Istanbul for the World Humanitarian Summit earlier this year, and made commitments to support people affected by crisis and ensure that aid workers can safely and more effectively deliver to those in need. For more information, please visit: www.unocha.org/whd2016.