There’s an app for that

Like most fields, the worlds of humanitarian response and international development have countless apps at their disposal to make responding to a disaster and providing humanitarian aid easier. Here are a some apps that stood out to me:

Disaster Alert

Designed by PDC Global, Disaster Alert is an app (and website) that offers early warning notifications for natural and man-made disasters, anything from tsunamis to wildfires to biological hazards. Hazard briefs are available for each disaster. These briefs include information on the number of individuals affected, the estimated capital needed to recover, and any information previously provided that has since been updated, to allow the user to follow the strength of and/or response to the hazard. A free version is available for general public use, with a more enhanced version available for Disaster Management Professionals who apply for and receive access.


FarmBetter, developed by Benjamin Gräub, John Choptiany, Daniele Conversa and Saemi Ledermann, allows users, primarily rural farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America, to input information about their land and the crops they are growing to receive information meant to make their crops more resilient to climate change. The app’s developers hope the information provided increases the farmers’ short and long-term profits and encourages the implementation of sustainable farming practices.


Nokaneng is an app used to educate and provide location-specific resources to combat gender-based violence (GBV) in Lesotho. The app, made in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Lesotho Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, GenderLinks Lesotho, Vodacom Lesotho and the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation, has six main features:

My Situation: users can watch or read a fictional story of a couple experiencing GBV, along with general articles related to GBV.

My Services: contact information for police and health services is given, along with an explanation of the services various experts offer survivors of GBV.

My Rights: information on the laws in Lesotho that protect against GBV are provided.

My Advice: an online support group where those experiencing GBV can send questions to counselors. The user remains anonymous, and the questions and responses are posted for all users to read.

Emergency Message: this allows users to send a pre-drafted message to six individuals they have designated as their “Safe Circle” if they feel they are at risk of experiencing GBV.

Instant Rescue: this feature allows users to set off an alarm if they feel they are in an unsafe situation.

Although Nokaneng is only available in Lesotho, it could act as a framework for organizations in other countries to provide similar information to their citizens.


The FTR in Rapid FTR stands for Rapid Family Tracing. Family separation is a common aftermath of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and RapidFTR seeks to “streamline and speed up Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) efforts both in the immediate aftermath of a crisis and during ongoing recovery efforts.” RapidFTR, an open-source, volunteer-run project, is under development by the Child Protection in Emergencies Team at UNICEF and has received funding from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and UNICEF Supply Division. This app is still in development, although it is expected to ease the reunification of families after a disaster, allow for information to be shared across camps and borders, and reduce the need to interview individuals, especially children, multiple times as they enter new camps.

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What apps do you find most useful in your work? Let me know and I’ll add them to this list.

MPA. Currently an immigration paralegal, interested in migration, international development, research, and policy writing.