New partnership aims to integrate mobile technology into programs that support community-led development and prepare vulnerable communities to withstand disasters
MARCH 22, 2018
The global organization Mercy Corps and nonprofit technology company Atma Connect are embarking on a new partnership to integrate mobile technology into humanitarian response and development programs. The partnership aims to help vulnerable communities become better equipped to withstand crises and manage ongoing challenges in the face of increasing conflict, displacement, urbanization and climate change.
“We are excited to use Atma Connect’s technology to help people survive through crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for good,” says Alan Donald, Senior Director of Technology for Development at Mercy Corps. “Atma’s software helps people report problems, share solutions and improve their communities from the ground up, and can also help us transform the way we tackle the world’s toughest challenges.”
Mercy Corps will integrate Atma Connect’s mobile technology, including its AtmaGo mobile app, into new and existing initiatives that reduce disaster risk and provide early warning systems for disasters such as recurring flooding. AtmaGo provides emergency warning system capabilities, community-action platforms and other information-sharing features and will help Mercy Corps reach more people through its programs. The organizations will also explore new ways to use Atma Connect’s mobile tools in areas including digital literacy, education, agriculture and youth programming. Funding for the new partnership is made possible by Mercy Corps and Cisco’s five-year initiative to help deliver aid and development assistance faster, better and to more people around the world.
The partnership builds on a pilot project between Mercy Corps and Atma Connect in Semarang, Indonesia, helping improve communication and early warning systems between upstream and downstream communities prone to flooding. The project’s pilot phase has helped thousands of residents report and respond to local hazards, with Atma Connect facilitating partnerships with the regional disaster management agency and the city of Semarang. Mercy Corps and Atma Connect plan to pursue new opportunities beyond Indonesia to build up community networks and support systems around the globe.
“Atma Connect is excited to work with Mercy Corps to bring our technology-driven approach to community resilience to a global audience of users who are struggling with climate change, rapid urbanization and a lack of existing warning systems,” says Meena Palaniappan, Atma Connect Founder and CEO. “We share Mercy Corps’ mission of empowering local communities and we look forward to working with them around the world.”
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action – helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future. Learn more at www.mercycorps.org
Atma Connect is an award-winning nonprofit technology company that uses software to connect people so they can report problems, share solutions, and improve their communities from the ground up. Atma is dedicated to the idea that no one understands the challenges of low-income communities better than the people who live in them. Our mobile app, AtmaGo, has won Tech for Good’s Startup Weekend and the 2016 Global Resilience Challenge. Learn more at www.atmaconnect.org
Efforts to quantify the benefit of social program date back at least to Thomas Hobbes, but in the past 15 years there has been a laudable push to subject public and nonprofit programs to greater scrutiny (see Holley and Carr, 2014). Advances in computing, and in the analysis of “big data” have made it relatively easy to create complex metrics and exciting graphics. But despite these innovations, creating meaningful impact evaluations—especially for early-stage ventures—is still quite challenging.
This is because the most rigorous measures of impact, which assess whether a program is actually changing conditions in the world, typically require expensive and time-consuming longitudinal or randomized controlled studies. The results of a 5- or 10-year impact study will arrive too late for those who are being hit by floods or suffering the effects of broken infrastructure today. This is why we need to be both rigorous and “realistic” about what evaluation can offer social innovators and philanthropists (Ebrahim, 2013).
The good news is that by applying a systematic evaluation framework to this challenge, we can create a hybrid approach that combines outcome evaluation with impact estimates based on publicly available data. Please read our impact evaluation white paper to learn more about our approach.