Modern technology increases efficiency in emergency response in Lebanon

from Danish Refugee Council
Published on 13 Sep 2013 View Original

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) reaches 350.000 Syrian refugees a month in Lebanon, and modern communication tools are now an integral part of the emergency response. Androids and text messages make it possible to save time on assessments and surveys, reach beneficiaries directly and avoid confusion and chaos at distribution sites.

With the absence of formal refugee camps for Syrians in Lebanon, displaced Syrians are scattered between informal tented settlements, uninhabited buildings, and homes of families and friends across Lebanon. Therefore, DRC relies on a wide network of local focal points to notify its staff whenever new refugees arrive in the different communities. DRC then arranges a house visit to assess the newcomers’ medical, psychological, and socio-economic needs in order to provide adequate support. “In the past, when our teams visited and assessed newcomers, they used to fill out forms by hand and then return to the office to manually feed the info into a database. This was time-consuming and required close management and coordination. Now, the social worker conducting the assessment feeds the information directly into an android device and delivers it electronically to the database “ says Andreas Kamm, Secretary General at Danish Refugee Council.

Contact details for newly arrived refugees - either a direct phone number or that of a relative or trusted friend - are also registered during the initial assessment. “We are dealing with refugees who are spread across large geographic areas and in some cases forced to move from one place to another. So, it is a relatively challenging task to ensure that the right families receive the needed assistance at distribution sites. Through text messages we are able to target defined groups in a structured way and to notify them of the date and time of the next distribution in their region. This enables us to avoid confusion and ensure that refugees know where and when they can receive assistance,” says Andreas Kamm.

DRC also surveys its beneficiaries often to receive feedback on the quality of assistance provided. In the past, such surveys were conducted manually on the field, and data was then entered into the standard software programs to generate reports. Android phones and applications now make it possible to fill out a survey electronically and anonymously in the field, in order to generate complex and customizable reports. “In emergency response, time and efficiency are crucial. With the use of android devices to collect and process this vast amount of info, we are now able to reach, assess and survey more households in less time.” Lebanon is currently hosting more than Syrian 1 million refugees. DRC reaches 25,000 newly arrived refugees and a total of 350,000 individuals in North Lebanon, South Lebanon and Bekaa with assistance every month. The assistance includes food and non-food items, protection and shelter.

For more info, contact: Villads Zahle Regional Information and Communication Officer DRC MENA
Skype: villads.zahle Phone Lebanon: +961 (0)78853453 Phone Jordan: +962 (0)79 9693 843