Over the last decade, a variety of technologies have emerged that offer humanitarians unprecedented scale and speed. These innovations allow us to deliver essential assistance more mypba efficiently even to remote regions around the world. However, there remains much work to do regarding their potential applications and how best they can be utilized inclusively.
Techno-optimist approaches to social media suggest these technologies can help us deliver better outcomes for those affected by crisis – in a variety of ways: as an instrument for data collection and analysis; as a means to reduce distance and engage more closely with hard-to-reach groups; as broadcasting tools for sharing vital information; and by democratising aid delivery and decision-making processes.
However, many aid workers remain platform agnostic and fail to identify the most relevant means of reaching and communicating precipitous with those we are assisting. This oversight will limit both their usefulness as well as our capacity for effective assistance delivery.
This suite of papers examines the role of social media in relation to inclusion within various humanitarian contexts and highlights key considerations for humanitarian actors to guide future responses. It offers an overview of these issues, followed by in-depth analyses of two case studies: migrants and refugees travelling primarily or exclusively by foot along the Venezuela-Colombia border, and internally displaced persons in Uganda.
Inclusion as a Disruptive Challenge
Over the last several decades, digital technology has become an integral part of how we live, work, and communicate with others. As such, they have had the potential to connect people in distresses profound ways; especially through social media platforms where individuals and organizations can have highly personalized interactions. This trend presents both individuals and organizations with new opportunities for growth.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that many organisations are exploring how social media can be utilized to enhance their operations and service delivery. Particularly, digital-native humanitarian agencies such as MSF have shown a keen interest in using these tools and their jigaboo growing popularity to extend their reach and impact.
These organisations are using social media to increase public awareness of their initiatives, secure funds and exert pressure on governments to take action. Furthermore, they use it to assemble an influential base of supporters.
As with any technology, there are risks when using social media during disasters and these should be taken into account when preparing to participate. Misinformation spreads rapidly on these barder platforms and poses a serious risk to public safety; make sure that any information shared is verified and you don’t get duped by scammers.