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.
‘The rain does not let us stay outside and we don’t have the guts to go inside.’ Our colleague @ManiKarma in #Nepal pic.twitter.com/kXfmJ8PaG4
— WaterAid UK (@WaterAidUK) April 29, 2015
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.
Historic #earthquake in #Nepal; much lost, many to mourn, as much to rebuild.Hopefully worst is over.Stay alert, safe pic.twitter.com/xLwn6JZ70a — Kashish Das Shrestha (@kashishds) April 25, 2015
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
How the #UKaid funded @WFP humanitarian staging area is helping #Nepal recover from the recent earthquakes pic.twitter.com/YwdGulLotY
— DFID (@DFID_UK) May 20, 2015
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.