In November last year the Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) hosted its 6th annual Disaster Relief Summit in Washington, D.C. This year’s event brought together humanitarian experts from NGOs, UN and government, military and the private sector for two days of thought-provoking discussions on how to improve disaster response. The summit attracted close to 300 participants and over 70 key speakers.
Sonja Ruetzel, Event Director, AIDF addressed a full house with the opening remarks emphasizing the importance of disaster relief coordination. Followed by expert panel discussions including Hani Shannak, Chief Operations & Services, UNICEF, David Jones, Chief Executive, Rescue Global, Richard Parker VP Communications, Project Concern International on the changing technology landscape for disaster relief and emergency communications. The speakers addressed the data challenges in emergency situations, the digital gap between first responders and local communities and the importance of humanitarian social networks and shared communication between responders. The American Red Cross presented their disaster preparedness app. Gianluca Bruni, Chief of IT Emergency Coordination, WFP pointed out that “Information communication IS aid!”
Safety of field personnel was also a main topic at this event. Alastair Morrison OBE MC, Director at RW Chelsea Group mentioned that “International aid workers at greater risk due to perceived links with the government”. Amaury Cooper, Deputy Director of Risk Management & Global Security at INSSA warned that “security is often seen as afterthought and first thing cut from the budget. In fact, security should be seen as enabler”. Drew Brandy, VP Strategy & Development at Inmarsat, showed how ICT communications and tracking solutions can support safety and security of staff.
The summit was organised into parallel sessions, and expert speakers contributed to various discussions on field operations, ICT solutions, logistics and transport and emergency water security. Those in attendance benefited from discovering the latest trends and innovations, best practice approaches, first hand research results and general advice on relief and crisis management.
The Ebola emergency was a big topic throughout the event from Ebola communication in Liberia, WASH programs, special logistics effort up to regional advice from Dr. Joxel Garcia, Director, District of Columbia Department of Health on Ebola preparedness here in the city.
On the second summit day Dmitri Dovgopoly, Director, UN Procurement Division lead an inspiring and entertaining presentation on emergency procurement stressing the importance of using modern technology and innovations. He explained his department’s best value approach for procurement, saying that basing procurement on lowest price costs too much and should rather be based on total costs, including disposal.
His session was followed by an outstanding gathering of procurement professionals from the World Bank, UNOPS, IMF and USAID sharing first hand insights on best practice and useful tips on working with the UN and investors.
AIDF saw a packed exhibit floor with over 30 carefully selected exhibitors from around the world showcasing their latest technologies, products and solutions that will drive the humanitarian industry forward. Strategic partners includedKaercher Futuretech GmbH, Ford, Inmarsat, Sun-STAT, Thuraya, Clements Worldwide, Navistar, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, NRS International, MPOWERD, Royal Roads University, PYAM, SAF, Operation Blessing International, Yahsat, Basboga, Butyl Products Ltd, Greenshields Cowie, Parker, Sawyer, SATMED, Emergency.lu, Worldwide Industries, Amzco, BeinSync, H2gO Purifier, Embassy of Argentina, Fundación Exportar, Capia, Philips, The Chelsea Group, BakerHostetler, Transversal, Pacifico,
Bolloer and Female Heath Clinic.
Aquamira, NIyam, PCCW,
Overall the summit was a successful and productive event for humanitarians, entrepreneurs and international development organizations to establish effective policies and best practice for better, faster, safer and more efficient disaster relief and emergency response.
Following the incredible success of the event, Sonja Ruetzel, Event Director, AIDF has announced details of the 2015 program which include summits in USA, Asia and Africa.