Sarvodaya


Presentation for Sarvodaya Board 30 November 2016  
LIRNEasia has worked with Sarvodaya, one of Sri Lanka’s well-established community-based organizations, since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. As part of our HazInfo project, they established a disaster response unit and embedded resilience as part of their work plans and training. They had come to think that the government would take the lead in providing immediate assistance in the aftermath of a disaster because a Ministry focused on disaster management had been established and the various entities under it active. The urban flood disaster that hit the lower reaches of the Kelani river made them rethink their stance. The government response was seen as slow and ineffective.
Our disaster-relief partner Sarvodaya organized a small event at the community center at Pahala Bomiriya to hand over the remainder of the relief supplies to affected families. I was invited to say a few words. I talked about the need to build more resilient communities so that we could respond to hazards better in the future. The science of being able to forewarn people of floods exists. What we need to do is to implement the available solutions.
When the biggest disaster since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami hit close to home, we responded in our customary fashion. We asked for donations to be matched by LIRNEasia and we thought about how we could contribute through knowledge. We remitted the first tranche of cash to our partner, Sarvodaya on 19th May, just as the relief effort was getting started. There is value to donations in kind, but the flexibility of cash is essential. And the first writing based on the thinking was published on the 23rd.
Based on its longstanding relationship with Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s largest community-based organization, we have already remitted the first tranche of cash support (donations matched 100:50 by LIRNEasia) already used in urgent relief work (bottled water and dry rations) in four priority districts: Colombo, Gampaha, Kegalla and Puttalama. We trust that Sarvodaya is best positioned to identify priority needs and deliver the relief in a reliable manner based on its strong values and years of experience. Sarvodaya has informed us that it is already looking beyond relief, to actions needed to get he affected people in Sarvodaya villages back on their feet. This will require more commitment of funds and energy than what is needed for immediate relief. We will be with Sarvodaya as they build back better.
As many know, LIRNEasia is engaged with Nepal. We work with the Internet Society of Nepal and have long-standing good relations with the Nepal Telecom Authority. Late March we were in Nagarkot, about an hour away from Kathmandu and quite close to now devastated Bakhtapur. As a knowledge-based organization with ten plus years of experience in disaster risk reduction work, our first reaction was knowledge based. But we seldom stop there.
National Safety Day was somewhat overshadowed by floods and an election. Yet, LIRNEasia and its partner Sarvodaya pulled together a good exhibit. The judges have selected our exhibit as one of the top three. As a reward we have been offered an educational trip to Bangkok. Someone from Sarvodaya will make the trip.
It was not all sunshine and fare weather that greeted us on the December 26th this year in Sri Lanka. Instead a country in a crisis dealing with the continuous week long rains washing away sides of hills and flooding (copy of Dec 26th landslide and flood warnings issued by DMC). While we were at the Hambantota exhibition, there was uncertainty in being cut-off from Colombo with flash floods crossing roads in various E/A/B network. Had the rains continued on the 26th we may have been stranded or had great difficulty returning to Colombo. An incident or situational map, like Google’s Alerthub, would have been informative in comforting the uncertainties.
Use the embedded frame below or click here to view the story. Empowering Communities with Voice-enabled Technologies for Crisis Management on Prezi
VoiceICT4D project page LIRNEasia, through a stakeholder forum, advocated the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Center (DMC) to move towards a multi-agency situational-awareness platform by creating a register of alerting authorities and then sharing it’s call center and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system resources for emergency communication. The “Do you Hear Me” video, communicating the need for voice-enabled Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), to empower community-based emergency coordination, was visited by 496 viewers, of which 48 or them shared their knowledge on the subject. UNISDR debut film festival on DRR, selected our video as as one of the best three in the category of “best human interest story” Peer-reviewed scientific articles presented the realization study evidence emphasizing the practical technical instabilities and deficits in those technologies. The message was news to most researchers and practitioners. IVR-based solutions are gradually gaining momentum.
Senior Research Fellow Nuwan Waidyanatha recently completed an action research project on how local-language voice communication can be used in early warning and other disaster management tasks. A 10 mt video has just been released.
After watching the video, please take a few minutes to complete this questionnaire (there are only three simple questions to answer). You may scroll to the bottom to access the questionnaire; else click here. Thank you in advance. With the spread of affordable telecom services, most Asians now use their own phones to stay connected. Can talking on the phone help those responding to emergencies to be better organised?
Francis Boon presented the LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya conducted feasibility study at the CDAC Media and Tech workshop in London.
The LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya conducted feasibility study to integrate the Freedom Fone Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System with the Sahana Disaster Management System was presented at the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) technology fair. The congregation took place in London, UK, March 22 & 23. Brenda Burrell (Technical Director Freedom Fone), residing in Harare and I in Kunming, were invited with very short notice and couldn’t acquire visas to UK on time. However, our colleague in Oxford Francis Boon (Sahana Software Foundation) was able to fill our shoes given that he was already attending and presenting at the conference. Click to view the slides used to ignite the crisis management relevant message.
Everyone is looking for the killer app that can serve the non-digizen (non digital citizens). There is a lot of hype about smart phones but the practical field level thinkers have realized voice is the better solution. CGNet Swara a citizen journalism project, TCS Innovation Lab’s work on the use of speech for querying railway information1, IITM-RTBI’s Agriculture Information exchange, are a few of many Interactive Voice Response (IVR) enabled solutions that are taking shape in the region. Key reasons for the innovations surrounding IVR are to overcome the problems with key pad entry (pressing W thrice for Y) and traditional English based applications. It doesn’t get easier than pressing a few digits to dial a number and speak your mind or listen to a message.
The usefulness and ease-of-use of interactive voice, with Freedom Fone, for Sarvodaya Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members to supply incident information was blogged two weeks back. Now the question is “how is all that information put to use in responding to those incidents?”. In here we tell parts of that story. CERT members call one of the four telephone numbers to access Freedom Fone; then press the “reporting” menu item number on their phone keypad to record a “field observation report”.