Hundreds of thousands of refugees currently face the challenge of finding basic necessities such as food, shelter and medical care. Humanitarian organizations struggle to deliver up-to-date information to refugees and local aid groups because of the lack of an efficient information system and an updatable database.
To meet this challenge, a Canadian tech startup PeaceGeeks, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has come up with an innovative web app that aims to bring all such information together in one place to make it easier for refugees to find what they need.
The app, called Services Advisor, will be available in both English and Arabic, and can be accessed using a smartphone or computer. It lists categories including shelter, health, education, protection, food and clean water. For instance, if a user clicks on a category such as “food”, the app will open up a list of charity organizations that provide items such as vouchers and parcels of food.
The app is also aimed at humanitarian and aid organizations to help them guide refugees to the right services. If an aid worker discovers that a refugee child is not in school, the app will allow the worker to find the right education service for that child, and make a referral to the organization if needed.
Renee Black, executive director of PeaceGeeks, said that refugees arriving in a new country often do not have access to even their most basic needs. Technology can play a critical role in empowering refugees to be active agents in their own future.
Services Advisor aims to eliminate the need for every organization to maintain their own lists of services offered by them and other groups. With the web app, organizations only need to update information about their own services, which is then shared in one central place online.
Once the app is launched before the end of this year, UNHCR will send a text message to the more than 650,000 refugees under its mandate to alert them. PeaceGeeks presently does not charge any ongoing licensing fees and the app will always be free to service providers and refugees.
Source: The Guardian
Image Credit: PeaceGeeks/The Guardian