New Online Platform Facilitates Two-Way Communication Flow between Local Communities and Humanitarian Agencies in Central African Republic

June 1, 2012

Internews and the Association of Journalists for Human Rights in Central African Republic have launched the Humanitarian Crisis Map for the Central African Republic (CAR), an online platform that enables more immediate, effective, and two-way information sharing between humanitarian organizations and local communities in CAR.

The map, which runs on an Ushahidi platform, uses crowd-sourced information collected or verified by a network of local radio stations to alert humanitarian aid agencies to urgent needs and community priorities. Likewise, aid workers can add information to the map about their responses and actions. Already more than 75 reports have been mapped on the site.

“Both local communities and humanitarian actors present in CAR expect that the development of this interactive humanitarian map can bring direct benefits in their decision making practice” says Jean-Sébastien Munie, Country Director for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in CAR. “We recognize the value of this project in contributing to OCHA’s mandate and role in the coordination of the humanitarian response, information sharing and resource mobilization in CAR, and we look forward to actively participating with it.”

The project, one of several Internews runs in CAR, is funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and puts local media organizations at the center of innovation, enabling them to gather real-time first-hand information and create two-way communication flows that improve emergency response, enhance community participation, and build community resilience.

Since its independence from France in 1960, CAR has been plagued by crises associated with poor governance and conflict. Despite decades of humanitarian assistance, CAR remains fragile, with ongoing violence threatening the resilience of an already weak population.

“CAR presents the humanitarian community with a range of complex and protracted emergencies, where access to information and communication with affected communities is vital, but currently, as in many humanitarian interventions, largely under-resourced,” said Jeroen Corduwener, Internews Head of Mission for Central African Republic. “This project is an important step to addressing this gap in CAR.”

A low bandwidth version of the Crisis Map is available for users trying to access it in areas with limited internet connectivity. Information on the map can also be sorted and viewed according to the particular interests of users; for example, it is possible to visualize only urgent reports, reports that need an action, or reports where action has been taken.

About the Association of Journalists for Human Rights in Central African Republic

The Association of Journalists for Human Rights in Central African Republic (RJDH-RCA – its French acronym) is a local organization that was founded in December 2010 following a journalism training organized by Internews. Using mobile phones and internet connections, RJDH links a network of 10 community radio stations and 20 community correspondents in areas with no radio coverage to facilitate the exchange of news and information with one another and with humanitarian agencies.

“Our main goal is to give local communities a voice,” stated Jeremie Soupou, RJDH Coordinator, “And we welcome new tools to amplify these voices, to shed light on and to respond to the complex humanitarian situation that our country is living in.” 

See the website of the Association and subscribe to receive their daily updates: http://reseaudesjournalistesrca.wordpress.com