The Ushahidi Haiti Project (UHP) and the Independent Evaluation Team are happy to announce the release of the
Many thanks to the diverse set of individuals and organizations who made the UHP happen, and for their invaluable contributions to this evaluation process. It is our hope that the work put into creating this document will be found useful in the continued development of crisis mapping approaches and help strengthen the positive impact of their application worldwide.
With the release of the final evaluation report, the
evaluation team would like to share a few additional thoughts on the importance
of the Ushahidi Haiti Project Activity. Information systems used by the
humanitarian response community have rarely been evaluated. The ten year evaluation in 2006 of Relief Web
is a notable exception and had prompted some of the Relief Web functionality
that we all enjoy today. Needs Assessment
has received some attention, but there are no other well evaluated examples in
the humanitarian realm. None-the-less,
one of the most common recommendations of almost any evaluation of humanitarian
response is a call for improved participation of beneficiary populations and
better information systems. Both the UHP team and the evaluators knew we had a
unique opportunity with this evaluation to contribute some important learning in
these areas to the humanitarian response community.
Being able to document that the humanitarian spirit is alive
and well with young people today was perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of
the evaluation. As worrying as the proclamation
by Jan Egeland that “humanitarian action is under attack” in OCHA’s recent Stay
and Deliver document must be, we think that UHP and other projects like it
continue to show that Humanitarians will continue to be more dynamic and
innovative than those that would attempt to pervert or repress perhaps the most
noble human motivation -- to help those in need. In our mind, UHPs ability to connect
volunteers, those who are suffering and those that want to help will be the
project’s lasting relevance.
Volunteer efforts are at the core of any emergency
response. Whether it is family members
or neighbors sheltering someone that has lost their home or students collecting
money for an international organization, it is voluntary action that makes the
difference in emergency, especially during the first seventy two hours, which
is the time often required to launch a vigorous formal humanitarian response. UHP showed us how the principals and
technology behind social media and rapid information integration can quickly
connect volunteers. Rapid—this is
important because it allows for rapid action by local people and smaller
voluntary groups in the immediate aftermath of the emergency.
The evaluation re-affirmed on-going problems in
evidence-based humanitarian action. The disconnect between information, needs,
and decision making persists to thwart effective humanitarian response. Much
can and should be done to highlight scrutiny of the relationship between needs,
information and action in differing humanitarian stakeholder groups. Most
significantly, crowd sourcing through social media is an emergent and highly
potent instrument for humanitarian information and action. We are on the
frontiers of applying this tool effectively for population well-being.
Of interest to evaluators --the data sources that the
evaluation team used were not your grandfather’s document review, key informant
interviews or probability surveys. Automatic
time stamps are added to Skype chats, sms messages, email and web postings, and
this is an invaluable tool for evaluators when trying to triangulate
information. On the other hand, there are significant
challenges of analyzing so many small and often disparate threads of
conversations. Reinforced and adaptive
models of program logic and improved techniques for intelligent analysis of
these data, including multi-media data will become increasingly important for
evaluators of this generation.
Crowd sourcing is proving itself globally as a powerful
information/social movement integration that is transforming the world.
Georeferenced and aggregated crowd sourced information is transformational to
disaster management, especially catastrophy management. We were honored to be
part of the analytical team that might foster learning and adaptation. We favor
the application of developmental evaluation as an evaluation strategy, in
contrast to traditional evaluation frameworks.