Close the Gap participates in the Humanitarian Hackathon

Posted on Jan 18, 2019 8:21 AM by

On 15 and 16 January, Close the Gap participated in the Humanitarian Hackathon.

The Humanitarian Hackathon is an initiative of the Belgian Ministry for Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda and Telecommunications and organised by the World Food Programme (WFP), the leading agency fighting hunger worldwide, and by Hack Belgium Labs, the creator of Belgium's biggest multi-stakeholder hackathon.

The Humanitarian Hackathon is a two-day event, taking place in Egmont Palace in Brussels. On the first day of the Hackathon, Vice Prime Minister Alexander De Croo opened the event. Its purpose is to create technology-driven solutions for the most pressing humanitarian challenges. International and Belgian humanitarian organisations, donors, large companies, startups, scientists and engineers will be presented with 6 different challenges to choose from: school meals, smallholder farmers, humanitarian support, climate change, emergency response and beneficiary data management.

Close the Gap was represented in the beneficiary data management where participants looked into technological ways to automate the registration and processing of beneficiary data. A domain particulary relevant since Close the Gap is exploring opportunities in order to generate more efficient userdata of donated IT equipment in emerging and developing countries. Such data-collection comes together with ethical and privacy related concerns which were elaborately addressed during the ideation of different digital proto-types.

On the final day all hackathon teams had the chance to present their ‘humanitarian hacks’ to a general assembly of participants, experts and policymakers. It became clear that in a short span of time some of the groups were able to produce initiatives with scaling opportunities and potential to tackle the above presented challenges.

Especially interesting is the fact that all these digital hacks are relatively cheap solutions in a domain where the rising needs are putting pressure on available means. Before closing the event, Dominik Heinrich from the WFP expressed his sincere gratitude to all parties involved and invited participants for a sustainable collaboration with WFP for their protypes to come to fruition in a humanitarian context.