Saturday, September 27, 2014

Exclusive: USAID CIDI - Practicing Smart Compassion in Syria and Iraq

USAID relief supplies for the humanitarian situation in Northern Iraq. (Image Courtesy: USAID/CIDI)

ReliefAnalysis.com is privileged to bring exclusive content from the US Agency for International Development's (USAID) Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI). This content is part of a larger ReliefAnalysis project that profiles humanitarian trends through 2025. Given the current escalation of the Syria and Iraq complex emergency fueled by the ISIL crisis is being published ahead of time. For more information about USAID CIDI and helping international disaster survivors, please visit www.cidi.org or write to media@cidi.orghttps://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif


USAID CIDI is an education organization that is focused on effective public donations in support of disaster relief. Created by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 1988, USAID CIDI works with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), which leads and coordinates the U.S. Government’s humanitarian assistance efforts overseas.

USAID/OFDA responds to an average of 70 disasters in more than 50 countries every year, under a mandate to save lives, reduce human suffering and reduce the social and economic impact of humanitarian crises worldwide. USAID CIDI was created by USAID/OFDA in 1988 to inform the public about the best ways to donate in support of relief efforts. USAID CIDI does not accept or distribute donations, but does collect and disseminate information to enable individuals and groups to provide the most effective assistance to people affected by disasters.

A survey USAID CIDI conducted through Harris Interactive in 2013 found that in the past five years, 63% of Americans have made donations to relief organizations in the aftermath of natural disasters. USAID CIDI’s mission is to enable donors to make the most of their generosity by using Smart Compassion. Through cash contributions, relief organizations can do more good for more people, with greater speed and sensitivity than with unrequested material donations. Cash donations provide life-saving services in the short term, and help to rebuild communities through the long term.

USAID CIDI Director Juanita Rilling (Image Courtesy: USAID/CIDI)

With unprecedented displacement taking place in the complex emergencies in Syria and Iraq, how can concerned citizens practice Smart Compassion to make the most effective donation to survivors?

Complex emergencies like the current situations in Syria and Iraq can be overwhelming for donors as the political, social, and economic fabrics within these societies are in tatters. The number of actors, the quickly evolving situation and the circumstances for affected people can bewilder even the most experienced donor. It’s even more difficult to know what day-to-day needs are on the ground. This is why USAID CIDI promotes Smart Compassion.  

Smart Compassion means understanding that there is a more effective, efficient way to aid those who are suffering: monetary donations to trusted, experienced organizations.

Why cash? Monetary donations do not spoil, expire, incur transportation costs, and take a long time to arrive at the destination. They are flexible; allowing relief workers on the ground to purchase what is needed, when it is needed, how ever much is needed almost immediately.

Informed donors make the most of charity “watchdog” organizations like Charity Navigator to affirm the legitimacy and effectiveness of organizations they are thinking about supporting. We recommend the umbrella organizations InterAction and GlobalGiving; Each has thorough vetting, auditing and transparency requirements for their member organizations, which span the breadth of causes that interest donors and inspire them to give.

 How are CIDI and the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (ODFA) working together on the Syria and Iraq crises?

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with implementing NGOs to provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of children, women, and men displaced by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) assault on Sinjar and surrounding areas of northern Iraq.
USAID is deploying humanitarian response experts to key locations in the region to manage and coordinate U.S. Government support of the Government of Iraq’s humanitarian aid effort for those displaced by ISIL.USAID CIDI supports this humanitarian work by encouraging prospective donors to support the relief and charitable organizations working directly with crisis-affected people.

USAID established the Center to educate the public about the advantages of giving monetary donations to relief organizations and the downside of donating unsolicited material goods which is what we do today. We answer calls from individuals, groups, charities, and businesses with offers of donations or volunteer service. We do outreach via traditional media, social media, and in-person presentations about Smart Compassion. We focus on diaspora groups, in this case people who have cultural, historic, or ethnic ties to Iraq and Syria. These individuals and groups are particularly impacted as they watch this complex crisis unfold in their countries of origin. We introduce them to Smart Compassion, to USAID’s work in the region and to the process of becoming a USAID/OFDA implementing partner. Diaspora, due to this connection to their country of origin, have enhanced knowledge of the local context, language, geography, and politics that aid their ability to understand the situation on the ground.

Given the scale of the Iraq and Syria complex emergencies, are there lessons learned that will be valuable to future CIDI operations?

Thankfully, compassionate people will continue to donate in support of disaster-affected people. Because of this, USAID CIDI will continue it’s messaging about the most effective and efficient way for donors to help people affected by crises. The Iraq and Syria emergencies are ongoing conflicts, and people caught in the violence will need support for weeks and months to come. It is increasingly important that messaging and information about the crises is available and publicized to help combat donor fatigue and ensure interest after the news agencies have shifted their attention. We have a solid, tested, successful message, and we are continually looking for new ways to support donors, NGOs and disaster-affected people. 

Contact CIDI 
For more information about USAID CIDI and helping international disaster survivors, please visit www.cidi.org or write to media@cidi.org. https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Humanitarian Radio Test Demonstrates New Geopolitical Realities

During the Cold War era, the medium of shortwave radio was in many ways a predecessor to today’s Internet. For decades, the busy airwaves reflected the geopolitical and international security realities of the day, as over 100 nations transmitted messages that fused domestic and international news with large doses of propaganda. The radio dial was interspersed with squelches of military radar echoes, maritime and aviation traffic, mysterious “numbers” counting stations for international spies, and even military attempts to inject the ionosphere with energy to disrupt communications, or perhaps even incoming International Ballistic Missiles. With the end of the Cold War era and the rise of Internet technology, the shortwave radio spectrum has decayed into a more vacuous space. Many international broadcasters have curtailed their shortwave operations, and instead produce their content for online consumption.

Yet, this past week, at the Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction in Jakarta, Indonesia, 12 international shortwave broadcasters were able to accomplish a remarkable feat for the first time in the history of radio broadcasting--all articulated through the geopolitical and humanitarian realities of today. National level broadcasters from the United States, China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, the Vatican, and others piloted the International Radio for Disaster Reduction project in partnership with the High Frequency Coordinating Council (HFCC), the Arab States Broadcasting Union, and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

For a full 24 hour day, these broadcasters collaborated to focus a schedule of transmissions on Jakarta on a set frequencies to simulate a focused, international effort to broadcast simulated humanitarian content in the event of a large-scale disaster.

Despite the fact that Internet-enabled cell-phones and tablets are becoming a dominant form of communication technology, in areas such as the Asia-Pacific and Africa, shortwave broadcasting is still a robust and redundant platform that can cross the digital and literacy divide. As proven by this week's test, shortwave radio can also cross the disaster divide in a region extremely vulnerable to mega disasters and the impacts of climate change.

According to Oldrich Cip of the HFCC,
This is for the first time ever that international radio stations have volunteered to demonstrate that shortwave broadcasting is capable of communicating relevant information to the affected populations immediately after a disaster strikes. Receivers are light- weight and cheap and the technology is unique in being completely disaster resistant: the transmitting facilities can be hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away from the disaster zone suffering from a total communication and information blackout.
The International Radio for Disaster Reduction test proved that, from a communications perspective, nations can form an effective humanitarian security architecture that can act as beacons to millions who may be victims of a mega disaster.

Perhaps most interestingly, both the United States and China participated in this successful event together. In 2012, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed that the U.S.'s growing engagement in the Asia-Pacific was intended to"take steps to confront the mutual challenges that both of our countries face." Panetta cited disaster relief and humanitarian assistance as the top two mutual challenges for both regional powers. This week's test is an example that collaboration among regional powers can help foster unique security architectures with profound implications.

[Via: High Frequency Coordinating Council, ReliefAnalysis.com; Image: NASA depiction of a hazard emanating from Indonesia (smog and smoke)]

Monday, June 2, 2014

Radyo Abante Offers Glimpse Into Future of Humanitarian Broadcasting

An extremely potential evolution in the future of humanitarian broadcasting may be developing in the wake of the Philippines' recovery from Super Typhoon Haiyan.

A radio outlet named Radyo Abante has formed in the disaster impact zone to help bridge the gap between impacted disaster survivors and relief and recovery operations. NGO's Misereor and World Vision International helped to facilitate Radyo Abante with the goal of employing displaced local journalists whose livelihoods have been disrupted, as well as to create a critical information flow between aid agencies and residents.

According to an outstanding article written by UCANews.com:
the idea of a humanitarian radio station encouraged people to talk about the needs of their communities that are relayed via the radio station to aid agencies.
[Via: UCANews.com; Image: UNCHR]

Thursday, May 29, 2014

International Radio for Disaster Relief: Test Update

The High Frequency Co-ordination Conference's test of the International Radio for Disaster Reduction is still on track for June 5-6, 2014. A roster of international shortwave broadcasters is being developed to participate in a coordinated broadcast schedule of humanitarian information focused on CIRAF Zone 54 (Indonesia). The test will be conducted at the Media Summit on Climate Change, ICTs and Disaster Risk Reduction organised by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union.

According to Oldrich Cip of the HFCC,
This is for the first time ever that international radio stations have volunteered to demonstrate that shortwave broadcasting is capable of communicating relevant information to the affected populations immediately after a disaster strikes. Receivers are light- weight and cheap and the technology is unique in being completely disaster resistant: the transmitting facilities can be hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away from the disaster zone suffering from a total communication and information blackout.
Special thanks to Mr. Cip for the latest official broadcast schedule below.

In addition, please visit Alokesh Gupta's outstanding site Radioactivity for additional information regarding the schedule, as well as the participation of DRM.

Jakarta Media Summit IRDR Trial 5 - 6 June 2014
21840 kHz
ABC Radio Australia
Antenna HRS 4/4/0.5, 329deg
100 kW

15650 kHz
Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
LPH 150 deg.

21840 kHz
Radio Vatican

15650 kHz
SLBC Sri Lanka

15650 kHz
First Response Radio/FEBC


21840 kHz
MGLOB Madagascar 
250 kW bearing 085 deg. antenna TM
PHT and/or UDO
15650 kHz
Palau - 270 deg.

PHT and/or UDO


15650 kHz
All India Radio
Bangalore 500 kW
4/4/0.5 at 120 deg

21840 kHz
RTC - China
Standard Chinese, 
site: BEI

15650 kHz

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Texas Dust Storm Disrupts VHF Emergency Repeater Infrastructure

A strong dust storm caused disruption with the Panhandle Regional Interoperable Communication System in Texas on April 29, according to Amarillo.com. The emergency VHF system PANCOM, which is being rolled out to provide interoperable communications for fire, emergency services, and law enforcement, ultimately sustained no equipment damage.

Cyclone Ita: Radio Australia Activated Redundant Shortwave Outlet

Special thanks to Southgatearc.org, who on April 17 reported that the Australia Broadcasting Corporation had activated a redundant shortwave broadcasting capability as Cyclone Ita bore down on Queensland. According to the article
Radio Australia activated its purpose built shortwave outlet in Shepparton Victoria to beam the latest cyclone information into Queensland thousands of kilometres to its north.
Ita caused serious humanitarian issues in Papua New Guinea as well as the Solomon Islands. Click here for audio.

An outstanding overview of the ABC's broadcast coverage of Ita's landfall, as well as audio can be found at The SWL'ing Post. SWL'ing Post reader Mark Fahey's audio was captured during the event from the re-purposed shortwave transmitter in Shepparton on 6.15 MHz on April 11.

[Via: Southarc.org, SWL'ing Post. Image: European Union/ECHO]

Syrian Wheat and Barley Production Fall by 50%

Wheat and barley production in Syria has plummeted to by over 50% according to the Food and Agricultural Organization. Rainfall deficits ranged from 55% to 85% to some areas of the nation between October 2013 and April 2014. The ongoing conflict has also stressed Syria's already precarious food insecurity situation. This time span represented the driest winter in decades across much of the Middle East, which could have implications for global food prices.

[Via: FAO via AlertNet, ReliefAnalysis.com, Reuters; Image: National Public Radio]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Equipment Review: DE660 and 1126

ReliefAnalysis.com just had the opportunity to review two unique products from Kaito Electronics. The first product, the Degen DE660 (above), is a multipurpose Bluetooth wireless speaker and FM radio. The second product, the Degen DE1126, is a pocket-sized shortwave radio with broadcast and voice recording capabilities. While both of these small radios make for unique tools in hobbyist’s toolbox, the true implication for both products are their potential use for journalists and humanitarian field workers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

El Nino Geopolitics

For international security analysts, humanitarian operations planners, and humanitarian logisticians, the ability to identify emerging global hot spots is crucial. Over the coming months, areas such as Syria, the Crimea, Venezuela, Sudan, and the Central African Republic will no doubt make a list of potential shatter belts, complex emergencies, and geopolitical flashpoints worth monitoring.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Equipment Review: KA550 World Receiver

This is a cross-post from Relief Analysis Radio.
See a summary from the SWLing Post.

Relief Analysis Radio just had a unique opportunity to review Kaito Electronics' KA550 World Receiver, which features AM, FM, SW, and NOAA radio bands as well as a host of redundant power options.