|Panel organiser(s) will be presenting
In-Person & Online
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This panel will explore the impact of the digital transformation on humanitarian responses, and how to address growing tensions between the sector’s commitments to improve participation and accountability to aid recipients and the reality of how digitalisation has been unfolding within the sector.
It will build on recent research by the Humanitarian Policy Group that highlights the impact of digitally-enabled humanitarian monitoring and evaluation processes. Through the case of third party monitoring, mainly in Somalia, HPG’s work explored how evaluation and monitoring activities have been increasingly professionalised, undertaken by private actors whose added value is linked to data collection, analysis and visualisation. While often presented as an opportunity to make remote delivery more visible to donors, such digitally-enabled third party monitoring invokes tensions with localisation and accountability agendas. It takes place through complex processes of data extraction, often involving sub-contracting of local actors for enumeration while data analysis and oversight roles are kept distant from aid recipients on the grounds of improved neutrality and objectivity. While such an approach provides scale, the ‘digital distancing’ that such tools and processes allow presents a risk to reform agendas to improve participatory and accountability, if existing digital trends in the sector continue. This panel will convene papers that explore diverse ways in which digitalisation is intersecting with accountability agendas, including consideration of different contexts, technologies and actors. It will interrogate how such digital distancing is taking place, and where opportunities might lie for accountability measures that are oriented more clearly to aid recipients.