As RapidFTR scales up deployment in South Sudan to address the massive displacement of the population there (read a story later this week!), our lead for Innovation in Humanitarian Action, Mac Glovinsky, revisits his mission to Tacloban, Philippines to deploy RapidFTR in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda last year.  Here are some of his thoughts and pictures.

Photo credit: Cary McCormick, Programme Specialist, UNICEF Uganda
Photo credit: Cary McCormick, Programme Specialist, UNICEF Uganda

The city of Tacloban, the most highly affected urban area in Region 8 of the Philippines, was where the team was based and initiated the RapidFTR deployment.  Here, Sri Prassana, one of our rugged software developers, and Jesus Far, UNICEF Philippines Child Protection Officer, survey one of the more damaged Baranguays of Tacloban City, while looking for separated, unaccompanied, or highly vulnerable children.

Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ
Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ

In our canvassing of the highly affected areas we began to encounter separated or unaccompanied children.  Here, a social worker from the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the municipality of Tacloban City registers an unaccompanied young girl in Tacloban City in the RapidFTR system.

Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ
Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ

RapidFTR digitized the Philippine standard Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) form.  Having all these paper forms that you see here simply accessible on a basic Android mobile phone saved a lot of time in collecting, sorting and sharing essential information about unaccompanied or separated children.

Photo credit: Cary McCormick, Programme Specialist, UNICEF Uganda
Photo credit: Cary McCormick, Programme Specialist, UNICEF Uganda

The majority of our work was to help our counterparts in the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Women and Child Protection Desk of the Philippine National Police Force.  Here, Sri helps a Woman and Child Protection Desk Officer enter details into RapidFTR.

Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ
Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ

Along the way several challenges resulted in new opportunities.  Here, a policeman charges his phone with a quick-fix mobile charging device, inspired by the Powerclip, that the team had made with local mechanics and electricians in Tacloban.  The chargers allowed Department of Social Work and Development and Woman and Child Protection Desk officers to charge their phones simply off of motorcycles while in the field registering children.  As much of the affected area was without power, the team found it was essential to ensure a charged phone in the field.

Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ
Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ

Another incredible opportunity was this group of programming students who were hired by the governor of Leyte to provide technical backstopping and help to the RapidFTR system.  Subhas, our other rugged software engineer on assignment pro bono from Thoughtworks, here in the UNICEF vest, was very impressed with their technical skills.

Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ
Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ

The damage was severe, especially in the coastal areas.

Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ
Photo credit: Mac Glovinsky, Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ

But the hard work paid off when the teams would find children in need of services and help. Here, Jesus Far and our Department of Social Work and Development counterpart help with the interview process, as the Woman and Child Protection Desk officers enter the child’s data into RapidFTR.

Mac Glovinsky
Lead of Innovation in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF NYHQ

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Related stories:

Innovations in emergencies reporting from the Philippines – First 6 days

Innovations in emergencies reporting from the Philippines – Days 7-12

RapidFTR serves as a force for change in some of the world’s most complex emergencies

Join Star Wars & UNICEF Innovation to be a “force for change”

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