In mid-March 2019, Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones ever in the southern hemisphere, hit parts of Southern Africa, with Mozambique bearing the brunt of the natural calamity. The immediate impact, according to the WFP, was “incredible devastation,” with over 1,000 lives lost and millions in need of humanitarian assistance after losing their homes and livelihoods.

In such a crisis, the challenges that response and relief teams face cannot be overstated. Accessing the victims and assessing immediate needs is critical, but this can be an arduous task when areas are difficult to reach, as was the case with Mozambique when Cyclone Idai – and Cyclone Kenneth soon afterward – landed to great destruction.

After Cyclone Idai, data was required to help guide the humanitarian response. But, with challenges accessing affected areas, there was a need for a way to gather data both quickly and remotely. Leveraging our existing respondent database in Mozambique and mobile survey platform, GeoPoll deployed a series of remote SMS-based surveys to the regions hardest hit by the Cyclone in Mozambique. Data gathered included information on infrastructure damages, food security, and the aid needed most by the communities.

cyclone idai GeoPoll relief data
A snapshot of GeoPoll’s research data on Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

Due to the fast nature of SMS surveys, we were able to pass on this invaluable on-the-ground information to humanitarian organizations in real-time, enabling them to offer the humanitarian and health assistance needed.

Collecting Data During Disease Outbreaks

The Mozambique case is just one example of how data can be collected immediately and remotely following various humanitarian crises. Another use case is during infectious disease outbreaks when it is not safe or feasible for workers to collect data in-person.

GeoPoll Health and nutrition

During various outbreaks of Ebola between 2014 and 2019, GeoPoll conducted several SMS and CATI surveys in the worst-hit parts of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the DRC to measure its impacts on the livelihoods of people and indicators such as food insecurity.

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Currently, GeoPoll is running a series of research surveys to assess the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This freely available data is helping policymakers, international development organizations and brands make better decisions to reduce the spread and effect of the virus.

Data on Conflicts and Violent Extremism

Conflict is another humanitarian issue affecting many regions of the world from time to time. During a conflict, on-the-ground data is imperative for humanitarian aid groups and governments looking to measure the severity of the crisis and aid those in need. For instance, in April 2018, GeoPoll deployed our remote mobile data collection tool to collect vital information on food insecurity, levels of displacement, relief needs, and individual opinions from respondents in the war-ridden Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The data collected helped focus humanitarian aid efforts on protecting civilians from the side effects of war.

Data for humanitarian development and relief

Research points out the realities of broader populations. In times where it is otherwise impossible to get information from people on the ground, remote data collection can play a pivotal role in capturing the sentiment and realities in hard-to-reach areas. Over the years, GeoPoll has developed unique remote research systems, a large respondent database, and the experience to be able to assist essential humanitarian interventions through the provision of fast, reliable information in any circumstance.

We have worked with several international development groups and governments on a myriad of topics, including humanitarian aid, education and employment, monitoring and evaluation, food security, health, combatting violent extremism, governance, resilience, energy and climate, and financial inclusion among others. For more information and capabilities, please contact us here.