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How technology can shine a light on our darkest moments

How technology can shine a light on our darkest moments

September 23 2016

By Annie Radl

There are more people in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen – 21.2 million people - than any other country in the world.  Over 6,000 people have been killed in the war, according to the UN.  More than 3 million people have been uprooted from their homes and over 14 million people - half the population - are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

Yemen is being devastated by one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world - but journalists and advocates cannot seem to get the world’s attention. Amnesty International calls the situation in Yemen the Forgotten War; Rolling Stone, “Yemen’s Hidden War”; Krishnan Guru Murthy, whose Unreported World special on Yemen will be aired later this month*, calls the famine “Yemen’s Hidden Humanitarian Crisis”.

I only learned about the extent of the tragedy in Yemen through our NT100 partners at Oxfam. What I also learned from them, and what is also underreported - in this case and many others around the world - is what they are doing about it. And when you learn about something as catastrophic as the war and hunger in Yemen, you want something to be done**.

We hope that the NT100 can be one more outlet for raising awareness of underreported tragedies the world over, by highlighting how technology can be used to bring these crises to light and to do something about them. In Yemen, our partners at Oxfam are using the broadcasting power of the internet to campaign for a ceasefire and the convening power of Facebook to organise. They are also using digital tools to map water points in the field so they can get clean water to people and are strengthening their response with Mobenzi, a mobile data collection tool. So far they have reached more than 879,000 people with water, food vouchers, hygiene kits and other essential aid.

Last year’s NT100 showcased the work of #endFGM, The Guardian’s online campaign to bring the world’s attention to the ongoing human rights abuse of female genital mutilation, predicted to be inflicted upon 80 million more girls before 2030 unless there is advocacy and action to end it. We also celebrated Safemotos in Rwanda, highlighting the fact that road traffic accidents killed more people than Ebola in 2014 and are on course to be the number one killer across Africa by 2030 unless we see more innovations like Safemotos.

The NT100 is the largest social tech advocacy campaign in the UK - it reached nearly 3 billion people around the world last year. Our mission is to ‘shine a light’ on the people using digital technology to make the world a better place. We think that places most in need of a light are the ones that are shrouded in darkness.

If you know of a person, project, or organisation that is using technology to bring attention to, or aid, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, or any other underreported crisis in the world, please nominate it today, and we hope to be able to help raise awareness. Nominations close on 30th September 2016.

*Two new specials will air this month to illuminate the situation in Yemen:
•    Saturday, 24 September 2016: BBC News - Starving Yemen. An excerpt of the documentary can be viewed here.
•    Friday, 30 September 2016: Channel 4 - Unreported World: A trailer for this documentary can be viewed here.

**All of the aid and advocacy organisations referenced in this article - World Food Programme, Amnesty International and Oxfam - are taking donations to support their human rights and humanitarian efforts in Yemen. 

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