ReliefWeb hits half a million mark

Adrian Ciancio

On 13 March 2013, we published the 500,000th report on ReliefWeb. The honour went to a report titled “EU action on nutrition in development cooperation”. Yes, half a million in 16 years. While the number sounds impressive, what is more impressive is how far the humanitarian community has come since the birth of ReliefWeb in 1996.

Looking Back

The landscape of humanitarian information exchange was rather bleak back in the 1990s. Then the international community had a rude awakening at the time of the Great Lakes crisis and subsequently 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.

In those early days, the focus of ReliefWeb editors was to gather as much information as possible. We struggled to find any information for some crises where the humanitarian and/or media presence was limited. There was yet to be culture among humanitarians to routinely report to the world what was going on and what they were doing about it.

The sea change in the attitude of humanitarian information sharing came with the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. The world’s attention and new technologies led to a dramatic increase in the amount of information published - more than 450 humanitarian organizations reported on the Tsunami in 2004-2005. Having “too much” information became a problem, and the focus of ReliefWeb shifted.

Number of content posted to ReliefWeb since 1996

Looking Ahead

Since then, we have been increasingly paying attention to how we can package and deliver ever increasing amounts of humanitarian information in different form or shape, authored by a range of entities and individuals, to users in digestible and easy-to-grasp manners. For example, you can now more easily and rapidly access our content on your mobile phone via ReliefWeb mobile which we introduced last week.

With the rapidly evolving digital technology and the changing face of international humanitarian action, we are committed to providing humanitarians with innovative information services and solutions, as set out in our strategy and roadmap.