Our History

ReliefWeb was launched in October 1996 as the brainchild of the US Department of State, which had noticed during the Rwanda crisis how poorly critical operational information was shared between NGOs, UN agencies and governments. The international community came to the consensus that information must be shared, not withheld, for the humanitarian community to be effective. Thus, ReliefWeb was created in 1996 as an online platform to provide humanitarian information services.

Recognizing the critical importance of reliable and timely information during humanitarian crises, the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed the creation of ReliefWeb and encouraged the exchange of humanitarian information through ReliefWeb by all governments, relief agencies and non-governmental organizations in resolution 51/194 on 10 October 1997.

In 2000, we redesigned the ReliefWeb site, providing updated graphics, logo and user interface, improved functionalities and a new search engine.

In 2003, the General Assembly reiterated the importance of information sharing in emergencies, and of taking advantage of OCHA's emergency information services such as ReliefWeb in resolution 57/153.

In 2004, ReliefWeb was recognized at the UN21 Awards for achievement in the areas of "knowledge management" and "improvements to the working environment."

In 2005, ReliefWeb completed its first major re-design effort.

ReliefWeb was awarded the 2006 Web4Dev Award for excellence in web design and best use of the Internet as a tool to support development activities.

In 2010, we won the Special Achievement in GIS award for OCHA at the 30th Annual ESRI International User Conference, in recognition of outstanding work with GIS technology.

In 2011, ReliefWeb launched a brand new website that uses the latest open source technology to offer a cleaner design, more intuitive navigation, and a powerful search/filter engine and delivery system.

To widen our geographic scope, we opened offices in Bangkok and Nairobi in 2012. We also developed a "Vision & Strategy" to become the leading hub for critical information on global crises and disasters. It continues to roll out new products and features as envisaged by the "Vision & Strategy." This was also the year when ReliefWeb launched Labs, where we explore emerging opportunities to improve information delivery to humanitarians. Here, we float new ideas, get your feedback, prototype rapidly and grow ideas into useful products.

In 2013, we launched our mobile site, which allows our users to easily and quickly access our content and offers an at-a-glance view of the humanitarian world. This year also marked our 500,000th report.

In 2014, we conducted a major user survey to inform improvements to our services and the development of new features. In April 2014, we publicly launched our API, which allows applications to talk directly to the ReliefWeb database and retrieve information.

In June 2015, we became a true 24/7 content service provider, with staff working around the clock to provide you the latest humanitarian news worldwide. This year also featured the launch of our Videos section, which features videos meticulously curated by our editorial team.

In 2016, ReliefWeb marked its 20th year in operation. In October, it released four mobile apps in iOS and Android.

See the social media talks on ReliefWeb 20th year mark and its first four mobile apps.