On the digital side of humanitarian work

Hello reader!

Nice to have you back with the Digital Humanitarian again and welcome aboard if you just found your way to us. By now we’ve covered a wide range of topics under the themes of ICT for Development, Aid Work and Communicating Development. But we still have some left to explore! This post is actually going to be slightly unusual as it will lift the ‘curtain’ and reveal a more personal experience behind the scenes.

Meet Nina

Yes, in this post I would like to share a glimpse of my own experiences in the world of digital humanitarianism. I’m currently conducting an internship at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency here in Copenhagen, Denmark. More specifically I happen to be a Digital Marketing intern within Private Sector Partnerships and almost half-way through my 8 month journey. Therefore I figured that this would be the perfect time to shine light on my own experiences that so perfectly link to this blog project.

So yeah, I’m not a field officer or an aid worker by a strict or traditional definition, but I do work with all things digital for a humanitarian cause. Our work in digital marketing is also largely focused on different aspects of fundraising, but we are part of a bigger picture which is delivering online services and communication to both supporters and persons of concern to the organization. 

 

My time at UNHCR has already opened my eyes and let me learn so much more about how inevitable using the digital world is for the work that the organization does. I have also already learnt about the complexities of all the details that goes into this work. 

Here are a few of my learnings so far;
  • In order to maximize the use of our resources, we need to carefully target our work. Supporters need to find the information relevant to them, while people of concern need to find our help-sites as easily as possible.
  • Especially the help-sites need to be optimized to be accessible to the target audience. That part of our web infrastructure probably shouldn’t be filled with flashy video content for example, as people in need of international protection usually access the site on a (potentially older) mobile and from areas with unstable and weak connections. 
  • Creating a well functioning and optimized online presence is a combination of plenty of different things and areas of expertise. And the optimization never ends. The work and new projects keep developing alongside changes in world situations as well as technology.
  • There will still be a million things to learn and be inspired by! 
Meet the team

I wish I would actually have time to interview the whole team for this blog! (Maybe one day.) But for now you will just have to believe my description. There is something about the people around me that has been extremely inspiring to see. Our teams consist of top-notch professionals who are great at their respective areas of digital marketing and probably able to choose wherever they would like to work. Yet, they all want to work for the protection of refugees and other displaced persons. With their digital engagement efforts, they help make the work of our colleagues in the field possible. That’s what I call Digital Humanitarians.

 

Next time I will dive deeper into the theoretical aspects of digital humanitarianism and connect the stories I have shared with you so far to an even larger context.

Thank you for following our blogging journey and drop any comments or questions down below and remember to follow us on Twitter!

 

Ps. If you’re interested in finding out more about the life of interns across UN agencies in Copenhagen, you can find us on Instagram @un_interns_cph

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