Start Network creates online platform for transparent humanitarian funding

 

Amanda Aguilar

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Start Network, a network of 42 international aid agencies committed to improving humanitarian efforts in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, has launched an online platform allowing members, donors, and the public to monitor humanitarian crises as they occur, see how funds are spent, and track the number of people helped.

The project is part of the Start Fund, a pooled rapid-response fund. The fund primarily supports small to medium scale emergencies that often receive little funding. It is the first multi-donor fund managed exclusively by NGOs. The fund enables these NGOs to collectively make decisions about which crises to respond to based on need alone.

Since April 2014, the fund has been used to intervene in 99 emergencies and help more than 5 million people around the world. The new platform enables network organizations to use Start Funds to respond to these crises faster and more effectively.

The network partnered with digital agency, Mirum, to design and build the platform. Users who visit the platform can view all Start Fund supported crises around the world through an interactive map and view a timeline of when the crises started and assess the outcomes.

According to Sean Lowrie, director of Start Network, “This is a radical exercise in transparency which will ensure that the Start Fund is open to real-time scrutiny, like no other fund of its kind in the world. It will help to ensure that we are accountable to donors – currently four governments, and ultimately their taxpayers – and, just as important, to the communities affected by crises whose needs we seek to serve.”

Ali Merifield, Mirum’s client services director, adds that the platform is a marked change in transparency, accountability, engagement, and automation. The new technology will allow the Start Fund’s network to increase membership by using technology to offer more to more people. This means the Start network will be capable of handling more frequent crises.

Details about current aid projects are available on the new platform as they unfold in real time. Information about completed projects is also available.

For more on shifting power in humanitarian aid, see http://www.alliancemagazine.org/feature/case-study-never-mind-control-think-impact/

Amanda Aguilar is a student at the University of California, Davis, and is currently an editorial intern with Alliance.


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