[FoME] die policy brief: Digitalisation and flight

Sofie Jannusch Sofie.Jannusch at CAMECO.ORG
Fr Okt 6 14:03:45 CEST 2017

Digitalisation and flight: how can donors leverage digital technologies
to support refugees?
Martin-Shields, Charles 
Briefing Paper 18/2017 
Download: https://www.die-gdi.de/uploads/media/BP__18.2017.pdf
Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für
Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Increasing global access to digital technologies is creating
opportunities and challenges for donors and the humanitarian agencies
with which they work to support people fleeing from war, massive human
rights abuses and other emergencies. Digital tools make it easier for
refugees to reach out to each other and humanitarian agencies, and can
support greater efficiency in institutional efforts to provide
essentials like medicine, food and money.
However, the effective use of digital tools to support refugee
processes comes with a set of challenges. The key question for donors
is: What are the existing approaches to digitalisation in refugee
response, and the lessons learned, that donors can use to inform how
they support digitalisation in refugee processes? To address this
question, there are three things donors should focus on when developing
a digital strategy for supporting refugees:

Donors must avoid the problem of “technology looking for a problem to
solve”; knowing how refugee communities already use digital tools is the
best way to avoid this. Generally, refugees themselves will have found
innovative ways to meet their information needs, and donors can provide
financial and technical assistance to support access to the existing
Building digital tools from scratch is an option when there is no
existing tool available to meet the needs of refugees or workers in the
field. Custom tools are often best deployed at the organisational level
for managing information or resources. Donors should look to innovation
and technology hubs, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees’ (UNHCR) Innovation Service, to organise partnerships between
United Nations (UN) agencies, refugee-focused NGOs and technology
Donors must be realistic about what to expect from a digital solution.
Technology can be useful, but it is not a silver bullet for solving
every information management challenge. Ethics and safety issues must be
central in the design of any digital intervention. Donors must take
responsibility in making sure the partners they work with can meet the
data protection and privacy standards outlined by the International
Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) handbook on digital data

This policy brief provides a review of how refugees use digital tools,
gives examples from organisations deploying digital technologies in the
field, and discusses the effectiveness of and the ethical issues
surrounding the use of digital technologies to support refugees. By
putting the needs of refugees at the centre of their digital strategies
and working with implementing organisations, such as UNHCR and Mercy
Corps, to develop technology solutions that meet the needs of refugees
and field staff safely and ethically, donors can get the most out of
digital tools for supporting refugees.
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