Better Data Collection, Analysis Of Aid Can Help Evaluate Efficiencies, Fill Gaps

Nature: Data science can improve aid distribution
Editorial Board

“…The rush to provide food, shelter, and health care can be as chaotic as the disaster itself. Hundreds of millions of dollars flood into the world’s largest agencies and non-governmental organizations, which often sub-contract delivery to dozens of smaller groups. In such a system, the best source of data is a person on the ground — often someone low in an organization’s chain of command. It’s this aid worker who listens as a mother describes how she’s received four sacks of rice, yet her babies have nothing to eat. … Platforms such as Dharma that collate real-time data could quicken this response time by informing groups of what people need, and help to reassure donors that their money is being spent wisely. After an acute crisis, researchers can use data collected in the heat of the moment to answer big-picture questions. … Requesting more data and analyzing them coldly will make failures more evident. … Failures at all scales must be upheld as lessons in the continuing struggle to do what’s right — and not as arguments to abandon aid completely” (10/25).

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