Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and
Emergency Relief Coordinator

Somalia and other countries in crisis benefit from newly launched humanitarian data exchange initiative

By Wallace Mawire

Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and
Emergency Relief Coordinator

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA)’s centre for humanitarian data has been launched in
the Hague,Netherlands.
Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and
Emergency Relief Coordinator said that he joined the UN Secretary General at the launch
event in December 2017 at the centre’s location in the Hague humanity
hub.

According to Lowcock, the idea of establishing the centre first
emerged at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.
“OCHA has fantastic information management capabilities, tools and
products. This work ranges from supporting needs assessments to
managing operational and financial data to creating maps and reports,
all in support of increased situational awareness to reach people
affected by crisis,’ he said.

In 2014, OCHA launched the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) to
improve data sharing across organizations.
‘I am pleased that HDX is now used in every active crisis around the
world, including Bangladesh, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, and by
users in at least 165 countries. New organizations join HDX every
week. Soon, Facebook will become a member too, recognizing the value
we attach to data-sharing partnerships with the private sector,’
Lowcock said.

He added that the Centre for Humanitarian Data is the next leg of
the journey. Lowcock says it aims to increase the use and impact of
data in humanitarian crises. It will do this by offering a number of
services to OCHA staff and partners. The services include processing
and visualizing data, developing and promoting data policies for
example, to ensure that sensitive data is protected, and offering
training in data skills.

‘My hope is that the Centre will be able to use data to predict what
is going to happen and help us to meet needs before they become too
big, leading to better, cheaper action, more lives saved and more
lives protected. That is the promise of the centre, to get people the
support they need more quickly and efficiently by harnessing the power
of data,’ Lowcock said.

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