The last 2 weeks has been spent having meetings and researching more documentation.
I am flying to New York for meetings also at the end of this week.
The weekend was a hectic one. I worked on the Cyclone simulation for Samoa. Between two of us we wrote 700 reports and either tweeted, emailed or entered them onto the Ushahidi platform that was set up.
The team finding them and entering all the data managed to process them in 8 hours. Amazing work by an amazing team – All volunteers.
This exercise was supported by U.N Spider, Standby Taskforce and Humanity Road. All 3 I am involved in and have met many amazing people from all walks of life that give up their own time to help others. GISCorps were also involved. Sorry if I missed anyone else out.
See the Samoa Cyclone Simulation Ushahidi Map here: http://samoa.standbytaskforce.com/
Here are some hot spot maps that were made as a result of the exercise at the weekend. Analysis performed by Richard Parkin, GISCorps volunteer.
Samoa Heat Maps – Dec 2011
So a busy few weeks behind me and the run up to Christmas is looking the same. Everyday though when I am working on making the project a reality, I know it WILL make a difference to so many lives and hopefully save many. Please feel free to contact me for further details at anytime. Once all the details have been sorted out I will be posting a full presentation on the complete project…. So as they say watch this space!
“Specifically engaging those groups most vulnerable to disasters is an essential part of building disaster-resilient communities”
Human beings have been at the mercy of natural disasters since the beginning of time. Floods, fires, earthquakes and tremors, mudslides, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunami, tropical storms, ice storms, landslides, droughts and famine consistently remind us of how vulnerable we are.
The recent increase in attention to the effects of natural disasters has resulted in a plethora of different perspectives on the issue. In particular, several authors have brought a gender focus to the analysis of disaster mitigation and response, with some very interesting results (See Enarson, Delaney and Shrader, Byrne and Baden). The image of the suffering woman and child during a disaster is a popular one in the media. Women are disproportionately affected by natural disasters, usually as a result of their gendered status in society. What the media does not show, however is that women are a vital part of disaster mitigation and response efforts, whether acting within their traditional gender roles, or transcending them.
GENDER AND NATURAL DISASTERS
Why are Women more Vulnerable?
Women are made more vulnerable to disasters through their socially constructed roles. As Elaine Enarson states “..gender shapes the social worlds within which natural events occur.”
Women have less access to resources – social networks and influence, transportation, information, skills (including literacy), control over land and other economic resources, personal mobility, secure housing and employment, freedom from violence and control over decision-making – that are essential in disaster preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation.
Women are victims of the gendered division of labour. They are over- represented in the agriculture industry, self-employment and the informal economy, in under-paid jobs with little security and no benefits such as healthcare or union representation. The informal and agricultural sectors are usually the most impacted by natural disasters, thus women become over-represented among the unemployed following a disaster.
Because women are primarily responsible for domestic duties such as childcare and care for the elderly or disabled, they do not have the liberty of migrating to look for work following a disaster. Men often do migrate, leaving behind very high numbers of female-headed households. The failure to recognize this reality and women’s double burden of productive and reproductive labour, means that women’s visibility in society remains low, and attention to their needs is woefully inadequate.
Because housing is often destroyed in the disaster, many families are forced to relocate to shelters. Inadequate facilities for simple daily tasks such as cooking means that women’s domestic burden increases at the same time as her economic burden, leaving her less freedom and mobility to look for alternative sources of income.
When women’s economic resources are taken away, their bargaining position in the household is adversely affected.
Disasters themselves can serve to increase women’s vulnerability. Aside from the increase in female-headed households and the fact that the majority of shelter residents are women, numerous studies have shown an increase in levels of domestic and sexual violence following disasters.
As one of the primary aspects of women’s health in particular, reproductive and sexual health are beginning to be recognised as key components of disaster relief efforts, however attention to them remains inadequate and women’s health suffers disproportionately as a result.
Women Responding to Disasters?
While we have seen that women are severely affected by natural disasters, this is only half the picture. Natural disasters often provide women with a unique opportunity to challenge and change their gendered status in society.
Women have proven themselves indispensable when it comes to responding to disasters. Following hurricane Mitch in 1998, women in Guatemala and Honduras were seen building houses, digging wells and ditches, hauling water and building shelters. Though often against men’s wishes, women have been willing and able to take an active role in what are traditionally considered “male” tasks. This can have the effect of changing society’s conceptions of women’s capabilities.
Women are most effective at mobilizing the community to respond to disasters. They form groups and networks of social actors who work to meet the most pressing needs of the community. This kind of community organizing has proven essential in disaster preparedness and mitigation.
In response to increased levels of gender-based violence in Nicaragua following Hurricane Mitch, the NGO Puntos de Encuentro organized an information campaign that used various different media to transmit one simple message – “Violence against women is one disaster that men can prevent.” The campaign proved very effective at changing men’s attitudes towards violence against women.
After the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, women maquiladoras organized themselves into the 19 de septiembre Garment Workers’ Union, which was recognized by the Mexican government and proved instrumental in lobbying for the recovery of women’s employment.
Following Hurricane Joan, women in Mulukutú, Nicaragua organized to develop plans for disaster preparedness that included all the members of a household. Consequently, Mulukutú was better prepared for Hurricane Mitch and it recovered more quickly than other similarly affected communities.
As a result of their disaster response efforts, women are developing new skills such as natural resource and agricultural management which, in the right environment, they could carry over into the job market.
Looking at Natural Disasters from a Gender Perspective
Immediately following a disaster, the “tyranny of the urgent” prevails and gender concerns are overlooked or dismissed as irrelevant. The unique opportunity to change traditional gender roles that a disaster situation awards is wasted if women do not take advantage of it, or if decision-makers ignore it. Organization by women at the community and national levels is essential if recovery measures are to respond to women’s needs and concern.
A narrow view of the consequences of disaster leads to a focus on the purely physical, the social realities are ignored and, again, gender concerns are marginalized. Women will continue to be disproportionately affected by natural disasters unless disaster workers and officials acknowledge their vulnerable status and tailor relief efforts to respond to it.
The majority of relief efforts are intended for the entire population of a disaster-affected area, however when they rely on existing structures of resource distribution that reflect the patriarchal structure of society, women are marginalized in their access to relief resources.
A lack of harmony between disaster response measures and long-term development plans means that disaster preparedness is sacrificed in the face of disaster response efforts. Women’s groups across the Americas have realized that the best way to mitigate the negative impact of a disaster is to be prepared for it. Women have been strong advocates for preparedness measures at the community level because they understand what disaster means to the day-to-day realities of life.
Advocates have stressed that what is necessary to bring a gender perspective to the study of natural disasters is research and analysis of data disaggregated by sex, pilot projects during the reconstruction phase, an open dialogue within communities and between communities and the national government and capacity-building for women before, during and after disasters have occurred.
Finally, an absence of institutional capacity in gender analysis is reflected in relief efforts, which do not include a gender perspective in their norms and procedures. Again this means that women’s particular needs, concerns and their potential for contribution are overlooked during disaster preparedness, response and reconstruction. This also serves to highlight the necessity for an organized, gendered approach to the study of natural disasters and their consequences.
An effective development process must include both the needs and the potential contributions of women as well as men. A community-based disaster preparedness and response plan that takes women’s physical, psychological, social and economic vulnerabilities into account will help to reduce women’s vulnerability to disaster overall. A plan that goes even further to recognise women’s abilities and include them in disaster relief efforts will help to change gendered beliefs about women.A gender based approach to the study and analysis of natural disasters is essential in accomplishing this goal.
This article was published by Pan American Health Organization (Regional office of WHO).
About Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS
Ushahidi, which means ”testimony” in Swahili, is a website that was developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. We’re working to build a new platform that can be used anywhere in the world, and this blog tells some of that story.
Ushahidi’s roots are in the collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis.
The new Ushahidi Engine is being created to use the lessons learned from Kenya to create a platform that allows anyone around the world to set up their own way to gather reports by mobile phone, email and the web – and map them. It is being built so that it can grow with the changing environment of the web, and to work with other websites and online tools.
Their goal is to create a platform that any person or organization can use to set up their own way to collect and visualize information. The core platform will allow for plug-in and extensions so that it can be customized for different locales and needs. This tool will be tested and made available as an open source application that others can download, implement and use to bring awareness to crises in their own region. Organizations can also use the tool for internal monitoring purposes.
The core engine is built on the premise that gathering crisis information from the general public provides new insights into events happening in near real-time. It is being developed by a group of volunteer developers and designers, hailing primarily from Africa. So far there are representatives from Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Netherlands and the US.
FrontlineSMS is award-winning free, open source software that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communications hub. Once installed, the program enables users to send and receive text messages with groups of people through mobile phones. What you communicate is up to you, making FrontlineSMS useful in many different ways.
It does not require an Internet connection.
Attach a phone and SIM card, and pay your local operator per SMS as usual.
It stores all phone numbers and records all incoming and outgoing messages.
All data lives on your computer, not on servers controlled by someone else.
You can send messages to individuals or large groups, and reply individually – useful for fieldwork or during surveys.
It is easy to install and requires little or no training to use.
Developers can freely take the source code and add their own features.
It can be used anywhere in the world simply by switching the SIM card.
The current version of FrontlineSMS (1.6) comes with on-screen language support for English, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, German, Spanish, Finnish, French, Hindi, Indonesian, Khmer, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili and Chinese
GSMA and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women Publish ‘Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity’ Report
16 February 2010
16 February 2009, Barcelona: The GSMA, which represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a charity that supports women entrepreneurs today published ‘Women and Mobile: A Global Opportunity’. The report, written by Vital Wave Consulting and the first detailed global study of its kind, attempts to understand the nature of women mobile subscribers in low and middle-income countries such as Kenya and India, and highlights the barriers facing women’s adoption of mobile technologies. It also shows that, by extending the benefits of mobile phone ownership to more women, a host of social and economic goals can be advanced.
The report reveals for the first time the extent of the gender gap in mobile usage in many low and middle-income countries. It shows that a woman in a low or middle-income country is 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. Closing this gender gap would bring the benefits of mobile phones to an additional 300 million women, empowering and enabling them to stay better connected with family and friends, improving their safety, and helping them obtain paid work, in line with the third UN Millennium Development Goal on gender equality. The mobile phone as documented in the report is an effective productivity and development tool which creates education, health, employment, banking and business opportunities.
“I am delighted that the GSMA is working with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on this important initiative and hope that together we can develop solutions which will empower and enable women and address the barriers that have been highlighted,” said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board, GSMA. “Mobile has proved to be a key element in today’s society as it is the most ubiquitous, connected and personalised communications tool that we have, and holds significant potential in bringing the benefits of connectivity to most of the developing world and reaching families at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”
Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women:
“Every woman, wherever she lives, needs a mobile phone. That’s the simple but fundamental message at the heart of this report. Women can use this vital tool to help unlock real prospects for themselves, their families and their communities. By being better connected, women feel safer, find employment, start businesses, access banks, learn about market prices and altogether benefit socially and economically. “Women and Mobile” is a seminal report that should be read by all who care about the life chances of women.”
Key findings show that:
• There are 300 million fewer female subscribers than male subscribers worldwide
• A woman is 21% less likely to own a phone than a man in low and middle-income countries – 23% in Africa, 24% in the Middle East, and 37% in South Asia
• Regionally, the incremental annual revenue opportunity for operators ranges from US$740M in Latin America to US$4B in East Asia
• Going forward, two thirds of potential new subscribers for mobile network operators will be women
• Women in rural areas and lower income brackets stand to benefit the most from closing the gender gap
• 93% of women report feeling safer because of their mobile phone
• 85% of women report feeling more independent because of their mobile phone
• 41% of women report having increased income and professional opportunities once they own a phone
The report highlights that women account for 750 million of the 1.25 billion adults in low and middle-income countries who have mobile phone coverage, but don’t have a handset. If operators bring mobile phone penetration among women on a par with penetration among men, this report shows they would collectively earn US$13 billion in additional revenues each year. Findings indicate that greater usage of mobile phones by women would stimulate social and economic growth, while generating subscriber and revenue growth for mobile operators. Previous research by Deloitte has shown that a 10% increase in mobile phone penetration rates is linked to an increase in developing country GDP by 1.2%.
The research calls for the mobile industry, development community and policy makers to undertake a number of steps together including, specifically addressing women in segmentation strategies and marketing tactics; creating innovative programmes to increase the uptake of mobile phones amongst women; promoting the mobile phone as a life enhancing, effective development tool which creates education, health, employment, banking and business opportunities; and designating high-profile champions of mobile phones for women. Developing a comprehensive plan for empowering women with mobile phones will require the involvement of all stakeholders from the private, non-profit and public sectors. Each stakeholder will need to take steps on their own, but also work together for maximum impact and to close this gap.
Facts and Information
Some Astounding Facts
“The impact of armed conflict or natural disaster on reproductive health can be devastating, particularly for women and children.
Women and children account for more than 75 per cent of the refugees and displaced persons at risk from war, famine, persecution and natural disaster.
Women of reproductive age comprise a quarter of the at-risk population. One in five is likely to be pregnant.
Many women forced to flee were already poor or otherwise vulnerable in the first place. Away from their partners and their communities, alone with their children, their vulnerability to sexual exploitation and violence is even higher.
Vulnerability to natural disasters is increasing, exacerbated by poverty and environmental destruction. At least 90 per cent of the victims of natural disasters live in developing countries.”
“Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention. This report begins with two startling findings. First, grassroots women’s organizations with strong track records in advancing community development find themselves excluded and disconnected from national disaster risk reduction and recovery programs. Second, multilateral institutions report that they have inadequate knowledge and political commitment required to advance gender concerns in the field of resilience.
Prepared as part of UN ISDR’s Mid Term Review of the implementation of the HFA, this paper is an in-depth study of the impact of social mobilization in disaster risk reduction (DRR). In particular, it focuses on the ways in which women act as agents of community resilience. The paper provides an approach to pro-poor disaster risk reduction through mechanisms that would enable grassroots women’s organizations to become pivotal stakeholders for large scale, effective local implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 (HFA). In particular, it addresses HFA’s second strategic goal: The development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms and capacities at all levels, particular the community level that can systemically contribute to building resilience to hazards. The core premise is that these mechanisms should be supported and scaled up by the institutions committed to advancing pro-poor and gender equitable disaster risk reduction.
The current study utilizes HFA’s five Priorities for Action to outline grassroots tools and institutional mechanisms that empower women to lead activities that transform their marginalization while reducing community vulnerabilities to disasters. Since grassroots women are grounded in local socioeconomic and risk realities, they are able to mobilize their constituents to develop DRR solutions that are innovative and dynamic, and would ensure that local authorities and civil society actors become partners in sustainable development. Case examples are drawn from the countries where GROOTS International and Huairou Commission work, and are presented with each mechanism organized under individual HFA priorities.”
“While pointing out not enough has been done to create institutional incentives to engage grassroots women’s organizations in all areas of emergency response, disaster relief,rehabilitation, and risk reduction, the paper analyses the factors that enable pro-poor grassroots- led actions as well as identifies institutional trends that created the opportunities for collaborations with government.”
“Climate change and the growing unpredictability of disasters compel us to stop doing business as usual. There is an urgent need for a radical change in the institutional approach to empowering women to reduce disaster risks, rather than more of the same. The study team recommends reversing the existing top-down resilience programming to invest in grassroots women-led initiatives as the foundation of local implementation of HFA. The following are four key recommendations:
Reverse the current design and planning of DRR processes by building on grassroots accomplishments. Rather than designing DRR programs and seek the participation of women and communities afterwards, institutions should build on the accomplishments of community based organizations led by grassroots women as their starting point for DRR policies and programs. This would ensure the development of local resilience priorities and mobilize the capacities and leadership of local communities.
Support grassroots women-led demonstrations as learning laboratories for grassroots women, NGOs, local authorities and governments. Much of the investment in community based organizations and grassroots women’s organizations is in the form of training. There is a need to go beyond this to facilitate grassroots-led demonstrations, which enable women to apply their knowledge, refine their practices and mobilize their networks and partners to scale up and institutionalize effective practices. Such demonstrations should then inform new operational frameworks for joint planning, implementation and evaluation of pro-poor gender equitable DRR.
Incentivize government and local authority’s engagement with grassroots women’s organizations. Governments and donors should require and reward their institutions to collaborate with grassroots women’s organizations. Such actions will formalize active public roles for women and set clear standards for engaging grassroots women’s organizations.
Set aside resources for grassroots women-led initiatives. Grassroots women’s organizations need flexible funds to identify locally appropriate entry points for DRR to mobilize communities, collaborate with local governments, and to experiment with innovative solutions to address local resilience priorities. “
“After major natural disasters, grassroots women’s organizations have shown extraordinary capacities to mobilize women survivors to improve distribution of aid, access to resources, water and shelter, and making local institutions accountable in relief and rehabilitation (IRP and UNDP 2010, IRP 2010, Yonder et al. 2005, Enarson 2004, Akçar 2001). Despite their track records of success, their efforts seem largely invisible to international agencies, donors, NGOs, and governments. When the next disaster strikes, women’s organizations are forced to negotiate afresh to ensure their active participation in relief and rehabilitation processes. Although building local capacity is the new mantra in humanitarian programs, institutions appear to be slow to learn to be more gender sensitive and socially inclusive (Christoplos 2005).”
“In disaster preparedness and risk reduction, which draws upon lessons from both the field of disaster response and recovery as well as development, the disconnect between rhetoric of capacity building and actual implementation is similar. A recent survey finds that grassroots women felt that they have been excluded from emergency preparedness and other disaster risk reduction programs (HC 2009b). This is in spite of decades of remarkable successful track records of grassroots women’s work in redressing development failures and reducing everyday risks for their households in sectors such as housing, water, sanitation, etc. “
Documents these points were taken from will be archived separately.
Welcome from JusTech
This project came to mind over a year ago.
I have always been passionate about incident, disaster and emergency preparedness and also management of these when it sadly happens, Since my days as Airfield Manager at one of the world’s busiest airports – London Heathrow. Combining that with empowering women and new technologies emerging I could see a correlation of all three areas of my expertise blending together to become a really worthwhile project.
Whilst attending the 3rd Expert meeting at U.N-Spider in Geneva in November 2011, Conversations were had and agreement that no one was taking these 3 issues and blending them together. Hence me now putting so much time and effort on this.
This is going to be a busy, worthwhile, emotional journey to get this up and running so I thought I would write a blog as I go for people to follow. I hope you enjoy and any suggestions or comments I would love to hear.