The 8th annual AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit was held in Washington D.C. on 7-8 September 2016 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Over the two days, the Summit gathered around 350 senior representatives of government and UN agencies, national and international NGOs, donor organisations, military, research institutes and the private sector. Topics discussed at this year’s Global Disaster Relief Summit included emergency procurement, data & ICT, humanitarian logistics, emergency health & WASH, financing & payment models and the global refugee crisis. As a new feature of the Summit this year, the Planet of the Apps showcased some of the latest mobile applications supporting disaster relief operations, including Share The Meal, ETC Reporter, mVAM, ReliefWeb Videos, ReliefWeb Headlines, MyTrac™ and Refugee Aid App (RefAid). More info at www.aidforum.org
An opening keynote speech at the Global Disaster Relief Summit was delivered by the world renowned humanitarian technology expert Dr Patrick Meier. Patrick discussed application of AI and robotics to aid and development efforts in Nepal and around the world. He’s the founder of UAViators, a network which promotes safe and effective use of UAVs in humanitarian and development settings, international consultant for Facebook, Planet Labs and World Bank Group and co-founder of Digital Humanitarian Network, Werobotics.
The international community spends around $25 billion per year to provide life-saving assistance to people devastated by wars and natural disasters. According to the UN, this is $15 billion short of what is urgently needed. One way to deal with this massive 40% gap in funding is to radically increase the efficiency and productivity of the humanitarian industry, which is where autonomous robotics play an important role. Dr Patrick Meier argued that response to the 4th industrial revolution must be inclusive and just, involving all stakeholders to avoid divisions created between those who have access to the new technology and those who don’t. By involving local partners in developing countries and allowing them to gain professional skills, the impact of humanitarian efforts is maximised and access to robotics is democratised.
The first expert panel of the Summit focused on Emergency Procurement Strategy. Moderated by Carlos Carrazana, Executive Vice President & Chief Operations Officer at Save the Children USA, the diverse panel of expert speakers brought a wealth of experience and in-depth understanding of procuring goods and services during emergency scenarios. Ali Jumah, Chief of Central Procurement Unit, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) stated that total procurement volume increased to $17.6 billion in 2015, an increase of 2.0%, due to rise in the procurement of food products, transportation services, fuel and pharmaceuticals from three organizations: the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Procurement Division (UN/PD). Jason Pearson, President and CEO, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council addressed considerations around reusability, sustainability and scalability of procurement decisions and John Service, Senior Technical Advisor for Humanitarian Operations, Catholic Relief Services discussed humanitarian sourcing and introduced social sourcing, as a locally focused alternative.
The conference was then split into two parallel streams, with data and communication technology in one room and humanitarian logistics in another. The first panel in the Data & ICT stream concentrated on Data Strategy to Support Disaster Response & Resilience.
This panel was moderated by David Jones, Chief Executive, Rescue Global. Sarah Telford, Chief of Data Services, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shared how information sharing can strengthen resilience and early-warning systems, with examples including Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) and mVAM, Food Security Monitoring in Yemen. Adele Waugaman, Senior Advisor, Digital Health at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) presented findings from the recent report on data and information flows in the West Africa Ebola outbreak response. Richard Parker, Vice President Marketing & Communications at Project Concern International and Steve Hellen, Director of ICT4D & GIS at Catholic Relief Services shared thoughts on using data for building safe neighbourhoods in the wake of disasters.
The second data & ICT panel explored ways to Improve Emergency Communication, moderated by Alpha Bah, Chief, IT Emergency Preparedness & Response Branch, WFP. The panellists Vince Onuigbo, Senior Marketing Director, International Division, Hughes Network Systems LLC, Hani Shannak, Chief Operations & Services, Division of IT Services & Solutions, UNICEF, Isaac Kwamy, Director, Global Programs Disaster Preparedness and Response, NetHope and Harvey Hipperson, Business Development Director EMEA, Iridium Communications Inc. discussed the latest trends and innovations for communication and data sharing solutions for relief agencies.
The first humanitarian logistics panel focused on Building and Managing an Effective Team for Disaster Response and was moderated by Adam Marlatt, President, Global DIRT (Disaster Immediate Response Team). Scott Beale, Founder and CEO, Atlas Corps, Colleen Striegel, Vice President, Human Resources & Administration, American Refugee Committee and Matt Pelak, International Operations Manager, Team Rubicon discussed trends in recruiting and training first response teams, looking specifically at how aid organisations can improve training and support programmes for relief operations, manage aid worker stress and share best practice.
Innovation pitch: Transforming Lives by Leveraging Technology in Humanitarian Aid & Disaster Relief Disbursement By Sailesh Savani, Founder and CEO, CompuLynx
The second panel focused on Security and Safety of Aid Workers and Goods with Laura Schauble, Vice President, Risk Management and Office Operations, ACDI/VOCA discussing emergency response for traveling and expatriate development workers and Jennifer Hardin, Director of Enterprise Risk Management, International Relief and Development (IRD) sharing risk management and global security framework for aid delivery in territories with reduced infrastructure. As the number of attacks on health care workers is increasing, Anne Peterson, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President Programs, AmeriCares addressed what can be done to keep staff safe in conflict zones and areas controlled by terrorist groups. The panel was moderated by Michael O’Neill, Senior Advisor for Crisis Management, Save the Children and concluded with recommendations on how to address various risk considerations for development and humanitarian aid.
Following a networking lunch with the option to explore the exhibition stands further, the Data & ICT stream continued with a session on Connectivity and IT Framework to Enable Delivery of UN Sustainable Development Goals, moderated by Joseph Burton, Counsellor for Technology and Security Policy, U.S. Department of State. Considering that information and communication technologies are pivotal in helping to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030, Tim Johnson, VP Enterprise Channel & Portfolio Development, Inmarsat Global highlighted how satellite connectivity can enable successful delivery of the SDGs. David Hartshorn, Secretary General, Global VSAT Forum, Isaac Kwamy, Director, Global Programs, Disaster Preparedness and Response, Nethope then discussed the Crisis Connectivity Charter and it’s practical implications and how to overcome regulatory challenges and technical obstacles around inter-operability and coordination.
When disaster strikes, close coordination among humanitarian responders is crucial. For survivors, it can mean the difference between receiving the lifesaving supplies they need, and being burdened with unsolicited material donations they can't use. The Aid & International Development Forum together with NRS International and American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) hosted an interactive mobile-based Disaster Response Simulation to recreate post-crisis supply chain challenges. This thought-provoking invitation-only session used virtual and live action role play allowing participants to represent one of the four sectors (a business, government, individual or non-profit organisation) working in a crisis scenario in order to coordinate efficient delivery of humanitarian assistance to neighbouring countries Terratoras and Republia affected by recent natural disaster. The Disaster Response Simulation was led by Dr Jamison Day, Chief Data Scientist; Ecosify/ALAN introduced the scenario and explained visual performance metrics to allow players to review system-wide impacts of their actions. The session was moderated by Juanita Rilling, Director, Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Duncan Cohen, Logistics Officer, OFDA, USAID with input from Kevin Peach, Business Development & Sales Manager, NRS International, Mohamed Hilmi, Senior Coordinator & Technical Specialist for Shelter and Settlement, InterAction and Garrett Ingoglia, Vice President, Emergency Response, AmeriCares and Alexander Balint, Senior Manager, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
Watch this flashback video and learn how the international relief community responded to the natural disaster that shook neighbouring countries Terratoras and Republia. Which supply chain challenges did they face? Did they cooperate and collaborate in order to serve the needs of the victims? Watch now!
After these panels the audience had an opportunity to engage in interactive round-table discussions on specific ICT and Data topics including power supply and infrastructure to support field work and disaster response hosted by Emma Huang, Senior Sales Director, Speedtech Energy; Data Security & Ethics with Dina Abdel-Fattah, Development Gateway; GIS & Mapping & Early-warning Systems with Steve Hellen, Director of ICT4D & GIS, Catholic Relief Services; Emergency Communication with Stephen Fazio, VP Government & Humanitarian Solutions, Planson International and Social Media and Social Networks – Steve Herman, State Department Correspondent, Voice of America. The participants shared their experiences with the group and asked specific questions around the topics.
John Anderson, CEO, Founder & Inventor, World Panel Inc. – Energy For Everyone Under The Sun
The final panel gathered a varied speaker panel to debate Lessons Learned from Recent Disasters and Conflicts. Moderated by Emily Troutman, Editor, Aid.Works, the session examined disaster response activities to recent global emergencies, including the Nepal earthquake, El Niño drought and floods and conflict in Syria. The panellists, Ajay Markanday, Director of the FAO Liaison Office for North America, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), David Jones, Chief Executive, Rescue Global, Christina Tobias-Nahi, Director of Public Affairs, Islamic Relief USA and Brian Kelly, Head of Community Stabilization Unit, International Organization for Migration (IOM), identified new best practice, challenges, possible solutions and what can be done better next time.
The first day of the Global Disaster Relief Summit concluded with a keynote address by Nikolaj Gilbert, Director, Partnerships, Communications and Partnerships Group, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
The second day kicked off with a keynote speech by Elizabeth Zimmerman, Associate Administrator of the Office of Response & Recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who highlighted the importance of data and how it informs the decision-making process. Panel on Innovations and Technologies to Support Health SDGs and Response was moderated by Steve Hansch, Director, International Business & Technical Consultants, Board Member, Treasurer, Relief International. Alwena Hall, International Marketing Manager, Military and Disaster Relief, Philips Healthcare shared some of the latest mobile solutions and innovations in global health initiatives and their practical implications for improving community health, highlighted that collaboration and partnerships are crucial and need to strengthen healthcare systems using local communities is an integral part of the solution. Lisa Mwaikambo, MPH, Director of KM Integration, Knowledge for Health (K4Health), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shared a case study on Zika Communication Network and Kristen Finne, Project Lead, HHS emPOWER Initiative, Senior Policy Analyst, Division of Health Systems Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) presented HHS emPOWER Initiative, which uses federal health data and mapping to advance emergency preparedness, response, recovery and resilience.
Presentation: State-of-the-art Cold Chain Solutions - Luc Provost, CEO, B Medical Systems
After a short refreshment break, the conference was again split into parallel sessions: Emergency Health & WASH and Financing & Payment Models.
Dr Thomas R. Frieden, Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Acting Administrator, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) opened the health & WASH stream with a keynote speech about disease control and CDC’s role in global health security. While about two thirds of the world are not prepared to handle a public health emergency, Zika is the latest unpredictable health threat with no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the virus. CDC announced nearly $60m in funding to combat Zika. Global Health Security Agenda goals are 1) prevent epidemics, 2) detect threats early, and 3) respond rapidly and effectively, as “a health threat anywhere is a health threat everywhere”. The virus is capable of spreading from a pregnant woman to her baby and has resulted in growing numbers of children being born with microcephaly – a condition where the brain does not develop normally. With the current Zika outbreak expected to last three years, Dr Frieden urged for prompt action, needed to better protect pregnant women.
The following panel focused on Reducing Maternal & Child Health Consequences During Emergencies. Moderated by Ann Vaughan, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mercy Corps, the panellists addressed sexual and reproductive health and explored medical innovations. With 303 000 women dying during pregnancy and childbirth and 2.7 million babies dying within their first month, Brigitte Dacosta, Director of Public Health Department, bioMérieux discussed what is needed to establish robust emergency medical systems, especially for children and women. Ugochi Daniels, Chief of Humanitarian Response, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) highlighted challenges of child and maternal health in emergency situations and how to overcome those. “Every Woman Every Child” presents a roadmap on ending all preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents within a generation and WHO launched two new tools to help countries improve data on stillbirths and neonatal deaths, and a report on maternal death surveillance and response (MDSR), a key strategy for reducing preventable maternal deaths. Dr Paul Robinson, MBBS, MTS, MPH Senior Health Advisor, International Medical Corps shared evidence based interventions which improved maternal and child health in refugee camps in Myanmar, Malawi and Afghanistan.
The panel Best Practice in Emergency WASH noted the importance of ensuring access to water and sanitation for crisis-affected populations. Dr John Akudago, Water and Sanitation Technical Advisor, Samaritan's Purse, moderated the discussion on guidelines and quality requirements for drinking water in the field. In the US, about 15% of the population still get their water from boreholes, which most often provide safe water at the source without treatment, stated Keith Norris, Director of Water & Sanitation, World Hope International. Representing the private sector, Elaine O’Donovan, Business Development in Humanitarian Aid & Remote Camp Infrastructure, Butyl Products Ltd. talked about WASH interventions such as Aquatabs, which improve chlorination of water supply in times of emergency and help reduce diarrhoea morbidity. Oliver Wright, Program Management Officer, WASH, International Programs Group, World Vision shared best practice for improving hygiene awareness and education. Bulawayo cholera response offered an opportunity to promote and leverage long term development outcomes and grow local capacity and partnership.
Meanwhile in the other room, Brian Kelly, Head of Community Stabilization Unit, IOM, moderated the first Financing & Payment Models panel, which offered an Update on Cash-Based Programmes for Disaster Relief. While cash and vouchers currently account for about six percent of total humanitarian spending, the shift towards digital payments as a modality choice is justified by a faster, more secure and more transparent means of getting help to those who need it, even in the most hard to reach places. Jenny Coneff, North America Representative, Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) shared an overview of current state of response analysis and what to take into account while deciding on the right delivery mechanism during an emergency situation, while Monica Shah, Finance Director, Advisor for Cash Transfer Programming, American Red Cross discussed the, ‘backend’ of digital payments and working with service providers (contracts, choosing partners, ensuring due diligence, communication). Geraldine Brick, Head of Food and Market, Catholic Relief Services examined how digital technologies enable programs and shared examples when digital payments haven’t worked. All panellists contributed with examples of successes and challenges with engaging communities and lessons learned from recent emergencies.
Mark Smith, Senior Director, Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs, World Vision US and Britt Lake, Senior Director of Programs, Global Giving delved further into the topic in the panel on Financing of Disaster Relief & Resilience. Moderated by Steve Hansch, Director of Resilience, International Business & Technical Consultants, the speakers discussed the future of humanitarian funding, how to ensure sufficient funding through diversity, as well as nationalising and localising the humanitarian response and addressing inefficiencies and strengthening needs-based funding in the humanitarian system. The following reports are offered:
Again the audience had an opportunity to split into interactive roundtable discussions, which allowed all participants to engage with the topics in more detail and share their stories and questions off-the-record with their group. Amongst the roundtable topics were Energy Access to Support SDGs and Humanitarian Aid, led by John Anderson, CEO, World Panel Inc.; Use of Technologies for Secure, Transparent and Efficient Disaster Response with Sailesh Savani, Founder and CEO, CompuLynx; Disaster Response Coordination with Adam Marlatt, President, Global DIRT (Disaster Immediate Response Team); WASH & Camp Hygiene with Dr John Akudago, Water And Sanitation Technical Advisor, Samaritan's Purse; Post-Disaster Settlement Planning with Dina Abdel-Fattah, Development Gateway; Building and Strengthening Partnerships with Michael Brown, Program Manager, International Logistics & Forwarding, Airlink and Aid Worker’s Health and Well-Being with Anne Peterson, Senior VP, Programs, AmeriCares.
After a lively networking lunch the summit looked into the topic of emergency health logistics with the panel discussion on Addressing Operational Challenges of Emergency Health Response, moderated by David Tasker, Vice President, Global Defense, DB Schenker. This panel brought together a wide array of expertise and topics from Dr Douglas Jackson, President and CEO, Project C.U.R.E, Stephanie Austin, Head of Humanitarian Programs, Airlink and Garrett Ingoglia, Vice President, Emergency Response, AmeriCares. The speakers presented their experience of emergency collaboration and communication between actors to ensure agile operations and eliminate programme waste and delays. In many cases when a country is hit by a disaster, the national government and health institutions are inundated with medicines and supplies from multiple donors. While the aid may be valuable, they are not always prepared to properly inventory, allocate and track these resources.
Innovation Pitch: Innovation in Affordable Solar Lighting - Ben Mathew, Sales Director, Greenlight Planet
Presentation: Summarising Outcome from Disaster Response Simulation Session
What followed was a discussion following Disaster Response Simulation, which revealed strategies for addressing the real world gaps reflected in game-play. The session was led by Dr Jamison Day, Chief Data Scientist, Ecosify/ALAN and Kevin Peach, Business Development & Sales Manager, NRS International.
The last expert panel of the summit discussed Responses to Current Global Refugee Crisis and assessed the options and best potential response to best protect refugees and internally displaced people. Lilica Kitanovska, Chief, Macedonian Service, Voice of America moderated the panel and shared the impact of news coverage on public opinion and national/international policies. The panellists, Mohamed Hilmi, Senior Coordinator & Technical Specialist for Shelter and Settlement, InterAction and Brian Hansford, UNHCR Spokesperson in Washington, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), deliberated current initiatives and latest developments in ICT and mobile technologies as well as how aid and development players can improve community engagement in the planning and execution of emergency settlements. Lastly, they discussed the importance of partnerships and collaboration. This very much summed up the objective of this summit: bringing together all stakeholders from different backgrounds and organisations to improve disaster relief globally.