OCHA provides information management services to the humanitarian community to inform a rapid, effective and principled response. It gathers, shares and uses data and information, underpinning coordination, decision-making and advocacy. OCHA also adapts tools and methodologies for monitoring humanitarian response, including developing joint analysis with local communities, and with development, peacebuilding, environment and other actors.
But how does managing information in a disaster help save lives and reduce suffering?
Managing information during a humanitarian emergency is a crucial part of any operation. The humanitarian community recognizes the importance of gathering reliable data on the locations of people in need, what they urgently need, who is best placed to assist them, and the value of this information for effective and timely humanitarian assistance.
A strong information management network that supports emergency coordination requires processes to collect, analyse and share information about the situation among the various organizations involved, and to ensure the coordination system runs efficiently. The network includes people affected by the emergency, as well as relief organizations, governments and media. Often the information is presented in easy-to-use formats, such as maps or tables, to support swift decision-making at all levels.
A clear information management structure also ensures that all the organizations involved work with the same or complementary information, and that this information is as relevant, accurate and timely as possible. The data collected and analysed is used as a foundation for situation reporting and for crafting public information messages. In addition, properly collected and managed information during the emergency phase can benefit early recovery and disaster preparedness activities later.
OCHA manages the Centre for Humanitarian Data, which focuses on increasing the use and impact of data in the humanitarian sector. The Centre’s services are available to humanitarian partners and OCHA staff in the field and at Headquarters free of charge.
The Centre is focused on four areas:
- Data services
- Data literacy
- Data policy
- Network engagement.
Our vision is to create a future where all people involved in a humanitarian situation have access to the data they need, when and how they need it, to make responsible and informed decisions.