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New Tool for Relief Operations in Pakistan Will Increase Effectiveness and Reach of Assistance

As the Pakistani government and relief organizations struggle to reach all areas affected by the 7.6-magnitude earthquake in Pakistan, a powerful new tool has been created to coordinate information and increase the effectiveness of relief efforts.

The Relief Information System for Earthquakes-Pakistan (www.RISEPAK.com) is an information-sharing web portal that compiles demographic data, damage information and relief updates at the village level to ensure that no areas are overlooked. It was created through a collaborative effort between the World Bank/Government of Pakistan coordinating team for relief work and Pakistan's largest Internet provider, World Online (WOL).

“Our goal is to make sure no village is left behind,” explains Tahir Andrabi, a member of the coordinating team and an economics professor at Pomona College. “Most of the visual news reporting is coming from the larger towns, but there are more than 4,000 smaller villages affected and only 25 towns. Everyone on the ground realizes there’s a problem, but everybody is so busy providing relief, they don’t have time to set up a system. That’s what we were able to do.”

RISEPAK offers pre-earthquake information showing village-level demographic and infrastructure data, major road networks and the distance of every village from the epicenter of the earthquake. Most importantly it can track damage, information on injuries, what medical supplies are needed, what has been supplied, and what is still needed in each village.

The web portal is a joint effort by experts from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Harvard University and Pomona College in the U.S., the World Bank, Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Center, and WOL.

Relief workers, donors, government officials, army relief operations, NGO’s and volunteers can provide updated information directly from the field, by posting information to www.RISEPAK.com, sending text-messages, faxes, e-mails, or calling any of the listed phone numbers.

The website has been set up so that information from even the most remote village can appear in less than eight hours.

"In many disasters coordination is the biggest obstacle. We have the technology that can change that. We can get this right," says Aamer Manzoor, co-founder and vice-president of WOL.

It's an achievement that's possible given the collaborative efforts, including the Lahore University of Management Services, LUMS, whose students will input the data onto the website.

"The new website is like a command center information tool for relief operations," says Jishnu Das, an economist with the Bank's Development Research Group.

The original idea for www.RISEPAK.com came from a conversation between Tara Vishwanath and Jinshu Das, from World Bank, and two experts, Professor Asim Ijaz Khwaja of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Professor Andrabi of Pomona College.

Donors, non-governmental organizations as well as the government and army relief workers are being urged to supply information to help ensure the new website is up to date.

How to Provide Information:
RISE: Pakistan Relief and Information Systems for Earthquakes: Pakistan www.risepak.com
Telephone: 0301-4573534
Fax: 042-5894990
SMS: 0301- 4573531,0301- 4573532
E-mail: quake@wol.net.pk

CONTACTS:

Tahir Andrabi
Professor of Economics
Pomona College
Phone: (909) 607-2513
Email: Tahir.Andrabi@pomona.edu
Fax: 909-621-8576
NOTE: Prof. Andrabi will be leaving for Pakistan on Friday, 10/20, and will return on Sunday, October 30. During that time he can reached via email, which he will check once daily.

Asim Ijaz Khwaja
Assistant Professor of Public Policy
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
Phone : 617-384-7790
Email: asim_ijaz_khwaja@harvard.edu
Fax: 617-495-2575