Above: Rami Shakra (far right), NetHope's Global Programs Director, Field Operations visits with a beneficiary family in Greece.
NetHope and its network of 57 global nonprofit members and more than 60 tech partners respond to dire humanitarian crises around the world. During this year’s World Humanitarian Day (August 19), we continue to recognize the millions of people caught in conflict and affected by disaster. According to the WHD website, “Over 68 million people around the world have been forced from their homes due to war, violence and persecution. Escaping hostilities and seeking of the basics to survive, civilians often have little hope of returning home.”
To honor those caught in conflict and those affected by disasters, we interviewed Rami Shakra, NetHope’s Global Programs Director, Field Operations, to understand his perspective on the state of humanitarian response, particularly as it relates to connectivity and the role it plays in helping both our member humanitarian organizations and the recipients who benefit from the power of connectivity.
Q: NetHope plays a unique role in humanitarian response. Why do you feel connectivity is important?
The question is what can you do with connectivity in a humanitarian response? Syrian refugees are using NetHope’s network across Europe to seek important information on countries they are migrating to as well as stay in touch with loved ones. In Puerto Rico, NetHope delivered connectivity services to early responding agencies to communicate better and deliver aid to the affected population more efficiently in remote and difficult to access mountainous areas.
Connectivity is also key to recovery of services for local providers to reconnect tens of thousands to those who lost service. In Northern Uganda, NetHope connectivity is assisting local and international NGO programs such as health and education to improve the lives of South Sudanese refugees.
In Guatemala, NetHope connectivity is supporting agencies and those forced to flee their homes and live in shelter locations after the volcanic eruption. Connectivity is just the foundation, what you can do with it in a humanitarian response especially could result in changing and saving lives.
Q. The benefit for aid recipients is clear, but what benefits do you see for the private sector tech partners?
Partners from the tech industry have been working more closely with NetHope in emergency preparedness and response. Responding to Hurricane Maria with partners in Puerto Rico and recently training partner volunteers for future emergency deployments in Panama has not only strengthened existing partnerships with NetHope but also created new ones.
Partners have demonstrated a clear humanitarian concern and willingness to be involved. NetHope connects their expertise and resources with the on-the-ground work of our nonprofit members to bring real benefit to the affected communities. NetHope aims to continue to support members leveraging the good partnerships in the tech industry. In return, partners also get the reward of contributing positively to humanitarian challenges. Together, we are stronger in responding to the humanitarian crisis.
Q. What personally drew you to the humanitarian field and connectivity work in particular?
The need. There’s always a need, and it is increasing, especially in the area of disaster relief. With the increase of natural disasters this need will only grow. With connectivity, you can have a big impact, even on a small scale, and that’s rewarding. Emergency response is also where technology is needed most. Alleviating the affected population should be at the heart of what we do as humanitarians. That is why I’m drawn to the humanitarian field and connectivity work.
Join NetHope this World Humanitarian Day by helping us continue our work around the globe, improving the human condition through connectivity, empowering users from aid responders to beneficiaries.