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Refugees and migrants

Humanitarian Assistance 2.0: Tech that saves lives in times of crisis

24 May 2023

Project leader interview: Cosmin Vaman, Humanitarian Assistance Digital Infrastructure

During their journey, refugees face multiple challenges and crucially need access to accurate information. Technology and digital infrastructures designed to assist refugees exist and can ensure an effective and coordinated action from humanitarian actors as explains Cosmin Vaman, Chief Communication Officer of Commit Global, the organization behind Humanitarian Assistance Digital Infrastructure, one of the 2023 PPF Scale-up projects.

We live in a context of systemic crises with multiple consequences on populations, how can technology bring concrete solutions to meet the needs of affected populations?

Cosmin Vaman: The world faces unprecedented crises and needs global mechanisms for resilience. Technology presents us with unique opportunities that can create ripple effects and bring about real, significant change by helping millions of people. To properly respond, technology has to be strategic, inclusive and well-designed. Commit Global has created a digital infrastructure that has helped more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees. The response to these crises can only be systemic with a thoughtful and tested process. Positive change comes when technology understands society, not vice-versa.

How does your project contribute to the implementation of technology for social good, especially through your experience responding to the needs of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Romania?

CV: With our intervention, we managed to connect UN agencies, Government, international and local CSOs, offering 1.5 Ukrainian refugees timely and accurate information on everything from healthcare and legal assistance to safe housing and information about transportation. These actors were able to work together through a shared digital system, ensuring more effective and traceable humanitarian assistance. Refugees themselves, as part of this integrated system, were able to access the support they needed and avoid the risks of human trafficking.

What are the current challenges in putting technology at the service of the common good and what are the next steps to achieve your goal of building a global Civic Infrastructure?

CV: Civic tech built by national organizations has not achieved its true potential, single solutions were not maintained or reused as the use of open source would have allowed. Commit Global believes in zero-waste technology: software that was already built cannot be left unattended and unused, it is a waste of resources, of human talent and energy. We will operate from 5 Regional Hubs, engaging with civil society organizations on the ground, harvesting needs and tools and strengthening their work value through digital tools.