Nepal earthquake: how social media has been used in the aftermath

A lot has been written in recent years about the use of social media in disaster relief , in particular platforms such as Ushahidi which is used to crowdsource data and visualise incidents which enables real-time response from relief agencies.

I first heard about the earthquake in Nepal on Saturday 25th April 2015 via a direct message on Twitter about a colleague in Kathmandu being safe despite damage to his house. I was meant to be visiting two weeks later.

I watched the news unfold on Twitter that day with horror, as the death toll continued to increase. Netizens were sharing awful images of the destruction.  

Within hours of the earthquake Mark Zuckerburg had announced the launch of Facebook Safety Check, which is a tool created in 2014 to link people in disasters.  Similarly, Google Person Finder had been launched. That day my social media timelines were awash with charities that had reacted immediately and set up fundraising campaigns. Those fundraising campaigns both on and offline have continued. This drone footage by filmmaker Paul Borrud, shows the devastating results of the earthquake around Kathmandu, and has been used as a fundraising tool by UNICEF UK. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yir6ArRZY4o One interesting development a week after the earthquake was a Twitter account set up by the Nepalese Government National Emergency Operation Center, which started to tweet the official number of people who had died and who were injured. The account also announced advice on information such as access to clean water and the relief that was being received from around the world. This account helps raise awareness of the tremendous support from the national and international community. Similarly, the infographic below, produced yesterday, shows how UK aid has been spent 

The impact of social media in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake is merely a drop in the ocean, but it’s better than nothing. This excellent article on GlobalVoices written the day after the first earthquake, describes in more detail the global social media response to the disaster.

 

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Live video streaming and the potential for citizen journalism

There has been a lot of recent media coverage about the launch of two mobile live streaming apps, Meerkat and Periscope.

Periscope is Twitter’s live streaming app which will allow both public and private broadcasts and enables you to link your stream to Twitter and have it show up on the Periscope home screen. Alternatively live feeds can be private and only available to watch by people who have been invited. Periscope say on their website

“Just over a year ago, we became fascinated by the idea of discovering the world through someone else’s eyes. What if you could see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Or watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia? It may sound crazy, but we wanted to build the closest thing to teleportation.”

There is not a lot of difference between Meerkat and Periscope, except that Meerkat lets you schedule broadcasts for a later date. Meerkat also automatically tweets a link to your broadcast. The other major difference is that Periscope allows viewers access to your stream for 24 hours after they have been broadcast. It does allow you to delete them if you don’t want to. For more on the differences between Meerkat and Periscope read this excellent summary.

So are there any benefits for social change and international development?

As Periscope say in their marketing collateral “What if you could see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine?” One of the major benefits I see is that anyone anywhere has the potential to live broadcast. High resolution video footage is now available on a wide range of camera phones. Many people around the world have ubiquitous internet connection and access in the developing world is increasing at a dramatic rate. The power of live streaming was recently demonstrated when Periscope was used to capture an explosion in New York’s East Village.

As with most technology there will be negatives as well as positives. Pornography and piracy are the two obvious examples. Let’s hope that there are more positive uses than negative.

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Using Snapchat for Social Good: UNICEF Case Study

One year after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, UNICEF is using Snapchat to draw attention to the devastating impact of the conflict in the northeastern region of the country. It is the first large scale Snapchat campaign by an international NGO that I am aware of.

UNICEF claim that around 800,000 children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict between Boko Haram, military forces and civilian self-defence groups.  The number of children running for their lives within Nigeria, or crossing over the border to Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has more than doubled in just less than a year.

UNICEF is using Snapchat to communicate the plight of the hundreds of thousands of children who are missing out on their childhoods.  They are working with leading Snapchat artists – including Shaun McBride, aka Shonduras – to tell the stories of the children who have fled the violence by sharing images based on drawings from children in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.  The artwork reflects what children miss from home and the atrocities they have endured, including seeing their parents and siblings killed, tortured or abducted.

The public is also being invited to help raise awareness, by sharing what they would miss the most if they were forced from home – either by sending a snap to UNICEF on Snapchat, or by posting messages on other social channels such as Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #BringBackOurChildhood. The hashtag has been shared widely and picked up by large media houses, but like #BringBackOurGirls is it just slacktivism or will it ultimately achieve anything other than raising awareness? I hope it does!

 

For more information visit UNICEF’s campaign Tumblr at bringbackourchildhood.tumblr.com

 

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Collecting SDG priorities for Humans of MY World

Two young men from the Netherlands are currently on a mammoth bike journey from Amsterdam to Cape Town in South Africa.  Jilt van Schayik (the Netherlands’ United Nations Youth Representative) and his friend Teun Meulepas have embarked on this impressive trip as part of their Building Bridges project (#BB2015UN). The bike tour will draw attention to youth priorities for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to-be-determined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Jilt and Teun will be travelling more than 9000 miles through 20 countries to reach the general public and local governments, to ask what vision they have for the world’s future.

Jilt and Teun have just passed through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain and are about to arrive in North Africa (video of votes collected in a public square in Madrid available here). They will be biking over the next six months in order to collect more votes and to collect stories from local people. According to Jilt, the Netherlands’ UN Youth Representative, “It is vital that we draw attention to the importance of the new sustainable development agenda and particularly that we engage women and youth in the decision making process. It is my goal to meet with as many people as possible on this trip and document what their priorities are. As the Netherlands’ Youth Ambassador, I want to bring these stories back to the UN to make sure the peoples’ voices are heard.”

Jilt and Teun have teamed up with 20 Building Bridges youth Ambassadors to facilitate events in cities and towns along their route to spread awareness about the goals and MY World votes. They will be meeting with local, national, and international representatives along the way to advocate on behalf of the use of the survey results when determining and implementing the sustainable development goals this fall. The project is supported by the Netherlands Government and all its missions along the way, as well as UN Women, UNDESA’s focal point on youth, and many civil societies and other partners.

The UN’s MY World survey has been collecting votes from the public via internet, mobile, and hard-copy ballots. According to Mitchell Toomey, Director of the Millennium Campaign (which oversees MY World), “This survey is the largest public engagement initiative worldwide. As a result, over 7 million votes have been collected, nearly 6 million of which were collected on paper ballots and nearly 70% of which were collected from youth (ages 30 and under).”

Humans of MY World Facebook Community

On route to Cape Town, Jilt and Teun will be collecting photos and stories of what people are voting for and why. The photos and stories will be shared on the Humans of MY World Facebook page and on Twitter with the hashtag #BB2015UN. The Facebook page currently has over 32,000 likes, which I am sure will increase as Jilt and Teun continue their epic trip.

#BB2015UN  — How to Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved via social media. You can fill out the MY World survey (http://vote.myworld2015.org/), take a selfie with your top vote, and tweet it using the hashtag #BB2015UN and @myworld2015.

View the online data based on gender, age, and location here: http://data.myworld2015.org

The data is also aggregated based on country responses here: http://map.worldwewant2015.org/

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International Development Videos 2015

Over the last few years I’ve curated a few videos about International Development and/or Fundraising that have caught my eye. Here’s the link for the International Development Videos 2014 and Top 20 International Development Videos. I hope you enjoy them.

Oxfam – How to Lose a Friend in 3 minutes

 

Charity:Water – I am Water

Save The Children Norway – Norwegian Midwives Reacting to Birth Meter

WaterAid – Priest

UNICEF – #ENDChildMarriageNow

WaterAid – Across the Tracks

Save The Children – A World Without Healthcare

UNICEF – Draw My Life – Amal’s story

Oxfam – I Need a Dollar

UNICEF – Nepal Earthquake

UNICEF Sweden – The Sound of Death

 

 

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