Still relevant after all these years

Madeleine Wackernagel

ReliefWeb is not only pertinent in a disaster environment or humanitarian emergency; indeed, the users I canvassed in Nairobi, the biggest hub for humanitarian actors in Africa, pointed to all sorts of aspects of the site that helped them in their daily work. Here are a few testimonials to celebrate our 20th anniversary:

Gabriella Waaijman, Regional Director, Norwegian Refugee Council

“ReliefWeb has been a mainstay of global humanitarian response for 20 years. Anybody that works in this industry knows ReliefWeb and for many it is the first port of call to get more information when a crisis breaks out — or when looking for a new position. It is a one-stop-shop for the latest information on crises, statistics and data; assessments and needs overviews; and response information and situation reports. Over the years ReliefWeb must have become the largest repository of online information about crises and must contain a wealth of historical data that researchers can normally only dream of having in one place. Congratulations to the ReliefWeb team for keeping the website relevant for 20 years! I look forward to the next 20 years.”

Beatrice Hongo, Communications Officer for the EU

“I first started to use ReliefWeb at the turn of the century as a young graduate looking for job opportunities. Unlike other job sites, ReliefWeb was easy to use, and had opportunities that were relevant for me, because they also contained listings from my country and region. The only thing I lacked then was experience…. As a graduate student, I was pleasantly surprised to find that ReliefWeb had now introduced analytical reports and other interesting aspects that enriched my studies. In my current position with ECHO, I use ReliefWeb when I need a quick overview of information on a specific country or topic. I know I can get interesting infographics and snapshots that convey a lot of information in a quick and simple way. These are very important insights that I share with my bosses, and often, the information will land on the desk of policy makers who need to quickly respond to situations.”

Moses Sitati, Lab Manager, HDX Data Lab Nairobi

“I've been using ReliefWeb both in a personal and professional capacity for a few years now. The news section is immediately helpful, it's a valuable space for reliable and up-to-date information on how humanitarian crises are unfolding across the globe. In addition, the supporting documents accompanying the news updates (e.g. maps, reports) have been relevant for our work at Humanitarian Data Exchange where linking datasets shared on our portal to relevant derivative products such as these improves their usefulness to the humanitarian community. Conversely, I have also pointed organisations who have been willing to share 'non-data' products on HDX towards ReliefWeb for content provision. As someone working towards expanding the local humanitarian ecosystem around humanitarian data sharing and data usage, I've used ReliefWeb's network of organisations to map out community members and actors I can work with towards this goal locally. Lastly, the jobs section is a true treasure trove with many great opportunities, interesting projects and new initiatives. I would say ReliefWeb is a great gathering place for all — old or new — who are humanitarian at heart.”

Kiganzi Nyakato, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, OCHA East Africa

“I wear many different hats in my capacity as HAO for OCHA East Africa: I cover food security and nutrition, emergency preparedness and response, the coordination of cash transfer programming in the field, and also act as IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] liaison. For these roles, ReliefWeb is an invaluable source of information in my work and research. Instead of relying on individual countries and agencies in the region to keep me abreast of new events, I turn to RW where I know the information will already be available. Specifically, I use ReliefWeb when I need current and timely situational updates on my areas of interest, such as communicable disease outbreaks, especially to compare cross-border impacts and coordinated responses, e.g. cholera in the Democratic Republic of Congo and border with Tanzania, and crossing into Burundi with the arrival of the refugees; the Yemen crisis, and migration numbers arriving into the Horn of Africa, especially Djibouti. In addition, I like the fact that ReliefWeb incorporates the data bases of so many members of the humanitarian family.”

And just to underline the fact that ReliefWeb is never static and always looking for new and better ways to make it easier for our users to access information on our site, we also welcome some suggestions to embrace in the next 20 years:

Rita Maingi, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Community Engagement, OCHA Regional Office, Southern and Eastern Africa

“I have always referred to ReliefWeb for anything and everything humanitarian and it has never disappointed. I like the way the pages are organized – very clearly by theme, country, posting date etc., which makes it super easy to navigate and find exactly what I want! What a resource!! However, maybe you should add an extra theme -- ‘community engagement’ or ‘communicating with communities’ -- which is an area catching the attention of many in the humanitarian field – putting people at the centre of response.”

Sanjay Rane, Information Management Officer, OCHA ROSEA

“At OCHA Regional Office, Southern and Eastern Africa, we regularly source information from the ReliefWeb online portal. It serves us as a primary source for critical information on humanitarian themes in the region. We primarily use these documents to gather key numbers on evolving humanitarian situations in the region. We especially like the search functionality on ReliefWeb, which is very robust and accurate when we want to look up specific information on the site — with one caveat, however: having an ‘OCHA ROSEA’ source tag would allow us to more easily manage our document inventory on the ReliefWeb portal.”

A big thank-you to our users and as always, we welcome comments or suggestions.