Having spent the last few months in Haiti trying to get our collective heads around the success of the Telefon Kwa Wouj IVR system - and the vast amounts of data it is producing – it was something of a relief to take a step back and visit London last month.
The trip inadvertently ended up being something of a busman’s holiday; as well as getting to see family and friends, my stay in the UK coincided with a couple of HIF events which I was invited to talk at.
Three months ago when the server for our IVR was making its umpteenth trip from Red Cross HQ to be reinstalled at the telephone company following another round of repairs, it felt like this project was on the verge of becoming a bad joke.
Already beset by delays, just as it looked like we were finally going to go live, the most important piece of equipment in the whole system packed up.
Who knew being innovative would be so hard? Surely you just come up with a good idea, the HIF will give you the money and you implement it? The problem with innovation is that no one has done it before, so there are not the usual lessons learned, evaluations, how-to guides and checklists to follow. We are literally trying something for the first time, which means the process is one massive learning curve.
Sharon Reader - Beneficiary Communications Delegate, IFRC This has been the question of most journalists visiting Haiti this week, coupled with ‘what has been done?’ While there is still undeniable need in Haiti - ½ million people saw in the 2nd anniversary of the devastating earthquake still living in a makeshift tent – it’s important to take the time to reflect on the significant progress that has been made here. Progress made not just by the Red Cross, NGOs, UN and government, but most importantly by the Haitian people themselves.
Sharon Reader, Beneficiary Communications Delegate, Haiti Entry 1 – Thursday 14 July 2011
“People need information as much as water, food, medicine or shelter. Information can save lives, livelihoods and resources. Information bestows power” (The 2005 IFRC World Disasters Report) I really believe in this statement and that’s why when I found out about the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, I knew I had to put in a proposal. I’ve been running a beneficiary communications program in Haiti since June 2010.