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Humanitarian Access and Technology: Opportunities and Applications

4 February 2016

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Humanitarian Access and Technology: Opportunities and Applications

The effectiveness of humanitarian action hinges on access: access by humanitarian practitioners to people in need, or by people in need to essential goods and services. New technological advances that have emerged or become more widely available in the past few years offer promising opportunities to support and improve humanitarian access. These can be harnessed to assist humanitarians in, for example, identifying humanitarian needs, getting essential items to those who need them, and enhancing program quality and resource monitoring, all of which can widen the scope of access options, especially in conflict zones.

Yet technology alone cannot solve the problems of humanitarian access. Some technologies may even generate new forms of risk. An over-reliance on technology may foster a widening gap between humanitarians and people in need, which may erode the hands-on understanding and empathy that should be the inspiration and guide of humanitarian action.

This Access Brief (2016) explores several technological options organized in three broad areas integral to securing and sustaining humanitarian access: access to information; physical access; and enhancing quality and monitoring resource use.


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