The earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th has killed at least 7,000 people and left tens of thousands injured and missing with a possible death roll that will rise up to 10,000. There is no denying that this is one of the greatest catastrophes in recent history and it most definitely is one of the largest in Nepalese history. Due to the location of both Nepal and the areas most affected by the quake, avalanches, and subsequent aftershocks, aid has been slow getting to where it’s needed and this isn’t going to change any time soon as the whole country has been rocked.
In an attempt to alleviate the pressure on national and international aid workers, a number of Nepalis are using social media and mobile apps to help coordinate, supply, and guide those trying to help to where they’re needed most at the moment. It’s a truly ingenious use of things that we in the west take for granted every day and hopefully it can teach us just how powerful these sources are. Here are just three examples, amongst many, of technology being used to help the volunteers coming from around the world.
- Open-Sourced Mapping: Kathmandu Living Labs – This nonprofit is using open-sourced mapping tools to show where help is needed most urgently. They gather reports from around the country and have mapped around 70-80% of the earthquake hit zones. What started with 7-10 local volunteers has now become 2,400 volunteers from around the world that travel the country and use satellite data to find displaced peoples and damaged areas. They are then able to rank how urgently the aid is needed and direct resources more effectively.
- Crowdfunding: Indigogo – Lokesh Todi has so far raised over $100,000 through Indigogo and is using the money in three specific areas: child care, women’s issues, and sanitation. Due to the lack of a centralized crisis management department in Nepal, the money is being used with local NGOs who have more information about what needs to be done where. While the money still hasn’t been released from Indigogo, it’s good to see that it’s going to people on the ground who know how to use it and are intimately connected with the regions damaged.
- Volunteer Coordination: Google Docs – Google docs is being used by a number of local and international NGOs and organizations due to its ease of access and simplicity of use. Information about food, water, medicine, and shelter is being shared across the docs and through social media so that it can reach the people in need and let them know where to go for vital supplies. It is also helping coordinate volunteer efforts and keep things running smoothly and efficiently.
While this is just the beginning of the recovery process for Nepal as a whole, this is an amazing first step. If things continue to stay on this path then hopefully aid will reach those in desperate need quickly.
If you’d like to read more, the link is here.
If you’d like to donate to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund mentioned above, the link is here.