ISLAMABAD - Speakers at the launching ceremony of World Disasters Report 2013 highlighted the use of technology in increasing resilience of disaster prone communities.
The World Disasters Report was jointly launched by Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Speaking on the occasion, PRCS Managing Body Member Mian Muhammad Javed who was the chief guest of the ceremony said, "This occasion has served to inform us and remind us of the vital role technology plays in so many aspects of humanitarian work. The depth of information and examples provided in this year's World Disasters Report, as was also highlighted by other speakers, is commendable."
PRCS supports the notion that the government and other humanitarian agencies must fully commit to and invest in developing the tools, policies and strategies to improve dialogue with disaster-affected communities. But such humanitarian technology and the use of information must remain ethical and focused on principles of humanity and humanitarian imperative.
PRCS Secretary General Dr Mahboob Sardar in his welcome address said that examines the potential of technology to improve humanitarian operations and increase people's resilience to disasters. "It also looks at the risks and unintended consequences of this influx of technology and provides recommendations on how we can maximise the opportunities, while minimising the risks."
The PRCS being the leading humanitarian organization of the country has already equipped itself with mobile SMS service, radio wireless communication system, email service SAP system and a user friendly website.
The other projects in pipeline are Video Conferencing and Disaster Data Bank.
He said the PRCS welcomes any technological advancement in humanitarian service that can help mitigate the suffering of the vulnerable and bring more transparency and accountability. What matters is not technology, but how we use it. The report also highlights the use of technologies such as mobile phones, social media satellite imagery and web that are creating new ways for disaster affected communities to organise, coordinate and respond to their own problems, and enabling people centred humanitarian action.
IFRC Head of Pakistan Delegation Karen Bjornestad said this year's report also tells us that technology is proving to be a tool of empowerment and resilience for such communities. In addition, it alerts us to the fact that the evolution of technology is faster than the humanitarian sector's ability to deliver and we, as humanitarians, need to keep up. At the same time however, we are reminded to strike a balance between updating ourselves on technology just for the sake of doing so and applying it thoughtfully so that our ability as humanitarians to reach out to vulnerable communities is truly enhanced. The report also raises awareness of the importance of ethical application and use of technology in the humanitarian sector.
Others who spoke on the occasion include Brig Kamran Zia, Member (Operations), National Disaster Management Authority, and Timo Pakkala, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.