About CID
About CID
CID People
CID People
CID Events
CID Events
Research
Research
Student Programs
Student Programs
Publications
Publications
Research Datasets
Research Datasets
Resources
Resources
Search CID
CID Home
CID Home
CID Home
About CID
About CID
Contact Information
Contact Information
Supporting CID
Supporting CID
CID Flyers & Brochure
CID Flyers & Brochure
CID In the News
CID In the News
Stay Informed
Stay Informed
Visitor Information
Visitor Information
CID Site Map
CID Site Map
CID Director
CID Director
CID Executive Director
CID Executive Director
Steering Committee
Steering Committee
Executive Committee
Executive Committee
Faculty Associates
Faculty Associates
Research Fellows & Associates
Research Fellows & Associates
CID Staff
CID Staff
KSG Directory
KSG Directory
Event Calendar
Event Calendar
CID Seminar Series
CID Seminar Series
Past Events
Past Events
Stay Informed
Stay Informed
Explore CID Research
Explore CID Research
Empowerment Lab
Empowerment Lab
Growth Lab
Growth Lab
Mexico Program
Mexico Program
Micro-Development
Micro-Development
Political Economy of Religion
Political Economy of Religion
Remittances & Migration
Remittances & Migration
Sustainability Science
Sustainability Science
Student Research Projects
Student Research Projects
Research Archive
Research Archive
Student Programs
Student Programs
Graduate Students
Graduate Students
Undergraduate Students
Undergraduate Students
ID Study Guide
ID Study Guide
Funding Opportunities
Funding Opportunities
MPA/ID Program
MPA/ID Program
Working Papers Series
Working Papers Series
Annual Brochure & Flyers
Annual Brochure
Affiliated Publications
Affiliated Publications
Publication Archive
Publication Archive
CID Datasets
CID Datasets
Online Datasets
Online Datasets
Data Products
Data Products
International Statistical Sites
International Statistical Sites
National Statistical Offices
National Statistical Offices
Other Internet Data Resources
Other Internet Data Resources
Useful Resources
Useful Resources
Global Trade Negotiations
Global Trade Negotiations
Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)
Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)
Quadir Prize
Quadir Prize
RISE-Pakistan
RISE-Pakistan
Job Opportunities at CID
About CID
About CID
About CID
CID Site Map
CID Site Map
Search CID Web Site
Search CID Web Site
Return to CID Home
Return to CID Home

Coordinating Disaster Relief Efforts: A New Tool for Relief Operations in Pakistan

20 October 2005 – When disaster struck, what if there were a single place to access up-to-date information about the affected area – including population statistics, major road network condition, and current relief efforts?

This idea was the impetus behind the Relief Information System for Earthquakes - Pakistan, or RISEPAK, a web site created in part by Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Asim Ijaz Khwaja. Khwaja is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the school and Faculty Associate at Harvard's Center for International Development.

"Looking at the tsunami and Katrina, the question seemed to be 'in sudden tragedy, how do you coordinate relief?'" says Khwaja. "As academics and researchers, we have all this information that could be useful, we just needed to put it all in one place."

The web site, which went live 19 October 2005, is a searchable database containing information compiled from population statistics, satellites, geographical systems, relief agencies, workers, and local officials. The database includes village-level statistics on such things as damage suffered and relief received for over 4,000 villages in the affected area. The goal, Khwaja states, "is to have no village left behind" in regard to aid.

Working on the site's development with Khwaja were experts from the World Bank, Pomona College in the U.S., Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in Pakistan, Pakistan's National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), and Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Center, also in Pakistan. World Online, Pakistan's largest internet provider, also contributed and is now hosting the site.

Khwaja commented on uses for the site its creators hadn't even envisioned.

"One of the first posts we got was from a Pakistani man whose livelihood had been destroyed, saying, 'I need a job, where can I go?' That was something we hadn’t even considered. The adaptability of the site – the fact that anyone can post – is really important because no two disasters are ever going to be the same. But if you have 50 people posting about the same problem, then we know it's an issue that needs to be addressed."

All this begs the question: what about moving beyond earthquakes and Pakistan?

"Ideally, we think this is a model for any natural disaster. Every country, even a developing country, has this information, and satellite pictures are updated hourly. Within the first few hours of a disaster, we could have that information available, and in the next few hours, relief workers could be coordinating via the site, seeing the extent of the damage, the most affected areas, and what other organizations are doing…I really think relief coordination is also an issue of catching up and using the technology we already have."

Anyone with information on the relief effort can post directly to the site (www.risepak.com), or by sending text-messages, faxes, emails, or calling any of the listed phone numbers.

RISEPAK Portal Wins Stockholm Challenge Award (May 2006)

Direct site comments or questions to CID's Webmaster.
Copyright ©2008 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.