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Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation at MWC19

By Kyla Reid, Head of Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation & Digital Identity

In recent years, the number of people affected by humanitarian crises—whether natural disasters, man-made disasters, or complex emergencies—has continued to increase. In 2017, 445 million people globally were affected by natural disasters. This year, UNHCR estimates that there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people globally, of which 58% are internally displaced, 37% are refugees and 5% are asylum seekers. More than four out of five displaced people are being hosted in developing countries. Further, estimates indicate that more than 135 million people around the world are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2018.

Driven in part by this increasing need, the ways that humanitarian stakeholders are responding to crises have changed in recent years. The GSMA has observed a growing appetite from these stakeholders to partner in new ways with the private sector, integrate innovation and use technology to increase accountability, efficiency and impact. At the same time, mobile and digital technology has also increased rapidly, now surpassing five billion unique mobile subscribers globally.

At Mobile World Congress 2018, we launched our Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Programme (M4H), a four-year £15.5 million partnership with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to accelerate the delivery of a digital humanitarian future. At MWC19, we’ll be showcasing how digital transformation is impacting humanitarian assistance.

Join us at MWC19 for an exciting line-up of sessions profiling innovative digital humanitarian services, such as The Future of Digital Humanitarian Response: Partnership & Innovation on Thursday 28 Feb, 11:15 – 12:15PM in Auditorium 5.

With 93% of refugees covered by 2G and 3G networks, the rapid expansion of mobile is offering new opportunities for digital humanitarian response. Not only is mobile technology an important lifeline for people to reach family and friends, but it also unlocks products and services that can improve outcomes for those affected by humanitarian crises, both in the short term, and in the longer term.

A key objective of M4H is to catalyse shared value partnership models between the mobile industry, humanitarian sector and private sector. During MWC19, we’ll facilitate partnerships like these,  discuss challenges faced and highlight trends and opportunities of how mobile technology can generate the greatest impact for people affected by crises. We hope to see you there!