Abaaraha, meaning “drought” in Somali, is a crisis mapping platform that connects relief responders with drought victims in Somalia. The platform collects data through various channels, including text messages, phone calls, email, and social media, and displays it on a map to help authorities identify areas that require relief quickly. Abaaraha’s use of crowdsourcing fills the information gaps that previously existed, allowing for immediate relief efforts in drought-stricken areas.
Besides raising awareness and funds, Abaaraha is geared toward community empowerment by providing open data to help authorities efficiently respond to areas in need, preventing a humanitarian catastrophe. The platform has achieved several key successes, including mapping and monitoring the needs and resources of remote communities in Somalia, increasing awareness of drought and climate change, and minimizing the number of people displaced. Abaaraha has also increased public confidence in ICT-based solutions.
However, there were several obstacles and lessons learned in deploying the project in drought-hit areas, including the need to establish communication with all relief responders on the ground, identify key stakeholders early on, and market the service well before deployment. The project also required capital to operate in areas where volunteers were not available, and it was necessary to continuously evaluate the team’s work.
The project was initiated by a group of Somali tech volunteers who saw a need to manage and coordinate relief efforts to quickly channel aid to drought victims. Using a live crisis mapping platform to tackle drought in Somalia was innovative and unique in a context of political instability in the region.
Abaaraha is the first-ever crisis mapping platform used in Somalia and has been accepted by both government and non-government agencies, such as the
UN humanitarian agency. Access to information was crucial for the success of the project, as it connects drought victims with relief efforts, saving lives.