February 2023: The Humanitarian Data Centre of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which manages the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform, has published a report on the state of ‘open humanitarian data’, to assess the availability of potentially useful data in times of crisis.
In order to target aid to where it’s needed most, a future must be created where all actors in a humanitarian situation have access to the data they need. The Centre is therefore proud to announce that in the fourth year of producing The State of Open Data, data availability in priority humanitarian operations has reached its highest level ever. South Sudan, for instance, is the first country to achieve 100% completeness in all datasets, up from 76% last year. A dataset is considered complete if it meets all the following criteria: 1. broad geographic coverage; 2. it is available in common formats; and 3. it’s up to date (full information can be found in the report itself). This progress is due to the commitment of the organisations to make their data publicly available on HDX.
But what exactly is the HDX?
In 2014, the Centre launched an online platform called Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX), an open platform for finding and sharing data across crises and organisations. Over the past year, HDX was used by 1.5 million people in 233 countries and territories. Additionally, around 1.8 million datasets were downloaded in 2022.
In particular, the handling of so much data, especially the disclosure of sensitive data in the context of humanitarian response, can lead to further harm or exploitation of already vulnerable people and communities. To ensure that humanitarian action remains safe, ethical and effective, the Centre’s work on data management focuses on the development of guidelines, procedures and practices for data handling by OCHA as humanitarian coordinator.
But much remains to be done, more data to be collected and so the Centre’s hard work will continue: One of the priorities for 2023 will be to continue to focus on climate change impact data, which is essential for understanding and predicting the future impact of hazards on vulnerable populations. Furthermore, as the most complete categories are population and socio-economy (94 %), affected people (86 %) and food security and nutrition (81 %), more data needs to be accumulated in the health and education categories. These are the least complete categories at 46%, due to incomplete data on the location of health and education facilities.
Hence, if you’d like to know more about the Centre’s work or a possible contribution to HDX, do not hesitate to email email@example.com. Let’s work together to improve the use and impact of data in the humanitarian sector!