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Tufts Crisis Mapping Class » Crisis Mapping, Featured, Humanitarian Action » World Food Program: Concluding Post

World Food Program: Concluding Post

Original Program Design

As the World Food Program, our ultimate mission in this scenario is to promote long-term food security. After assessing the needs of the population in the face of the Rabat earthquake crisis, we judged that doing so would require a two-phase approach. We first have to provide immediate aid as a part of the response effort. Concurrently, we should begin the development of programs to promote long-term food stability as an integral part of the reconstruction process. These will continue beyond the duration of the immediate crisis.

For each of these phases we designed plans to meet our objectives. As a part of the response effort, we would lead an aid-distribution effort that galvanized local fishermen into a network of distributors servicing the camps developing along the Bou Regreg River. We would also support the efforts of the Moroccan Red Crescent by providing food for volunteers (which in turn we expected to maintain stability amongst populations not at risk, speeding the transition to a period of recovery.) To promote long-term stability we expected to implement a Food for Work program — most likely based upon vouchers — and a distribution program targeting schools.
Alterations to the Original Program Design

Looking back at our original plans with hindsight of the crisis itself and a course-load of knowledge about crisis-response, we have a much stronger sense of the nuances of a crisis and of the political parameters that define a response effort by any one organization. Given the particular crisis in Rabat and our role as the WFP, we would make some very particular programmatic changes:

  1. Closer integration with other NGOs and the French military working on the ground.
    • Working in conjunction with other organizations on the ground increases political influence, man-power, access to resources and information and avoids the redundancies obvious in multiple organizations gathering data and distributing resources.
    • As the head of the UN Food Cluster, this is one of our primary responsibilities.
    • Mapping technology can be utilized to share information in an easily accessible manner.
    • Despite collaboration, the WFP, must remain both neutral and independent, particularly as the election looms closer.
  2. Develop a registration system to ensure food resources are distributed equitably and to the right people. This is particularly essential in an IDP camp setting and could be integrated into the fisherman galvanization model.
  3. Ensure adequate shipments of resources are able to get into the region and onto the ground as soon as possible. This is essential in establishing ourselves as a legitimate NGO/actor on the ground. Not only does it build trust with the public and increase our recognition as a partner that actually provides what we promise, but this increases overall regional stability and weakens the sympathies that the public might generate towards the terrorist groups that might capitalize on the unrest.
    • During our planning process we greatly underestimated the disadvantage we faced due to our lack of office in Morocco. When a population is unfamiliar with the work that we do and we are unfamiliar with the needs of the population, collaborative efforts are more difficult.
  4. Recognize that technology doesn’t solve everything. We can’t rely wholly on technology, particularly in programs involving locals. Technology is not always accessible to every portion of the population. Furthermore, because of its indirect nature, it can retard the building trust.

Incorporation of Technologies

Now that we have experimented with crisis mapping technologies, we are better able to understand the uses that they can have in a crisis. Bringing this knowledge to the process of designing a response strategy, we are able to design programs that maximize the usefulness of the technologies available while also recognizing their limitations. We have begun to discuss a number opportunities for programs designed around crisis mapping technologies. These include:

  • Frontline SMS Grain Price Regulation
    • As part of our Phase II program promoting long-term food security: Use Frontline SMS-style software to both gather and distribute information on local grain prices.
  • GPS / Open Street Map Information Collection
    • In conjunction with other aid organizations, create a live map of the infrastructure in the city during the immediate response. Utilizing volunteer networks on the ground, we would direct the creation of an OSM piecing together the physical status of the city. With the information be entered by trained sources close to the action it would be maximally reliable, enabling an efficient and targeted relief effort.
  • Food Vouchers Program
    • Provide food vouchers in paper form, but enable verification through cell phones.
    • Also, request information of where the vouchers are being used and what they are used to purchase. We can train store owners accepting vouchers to send texts with this basic information.
  • Work-for-food volunteers
    • Partial registration of work-for-food volunteers  and distribution of work opportunities through cell phones. We recognize that we cannot rely entirely on this new technology for this service, but it can decrease paper work and processing time.

Implication of changes and technologies for overall situation

-We recognize that with respect to our goals for this specific scenario, crisis-mapping technology requires a certain level of basic training. As such,
-We have come to believe that the use of Frontline SMS technology will be most successful in supporting long-term stability. We do not believe it will be as useful during the early response phase because we cannot be sure that those most in need and our high risk populations will be able or willing to send texts.
-We do, however, believe that implementing these programs will aid our field staff in communicating with the office and tracking food stability indicators such as grain prices and voucher usage.
-The use of GPS/OSM capabilities to create a map of the usable and unusable infrastructure in the city will take time, but will become an important resource for our staff as well as for the staffs of other organizations, and will help with the coordination and improved efficiency of food transportation as well as reconstruction efforts.

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California native, undergrad at Tufts. Studying International Relations

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