A New Approach to Humanitarian Aid Predicting Refugee Movements? There's an App for That

According to an algorithm, the coronavirus pandemic could trigger a million people to leave their homes in the Sahel region. Such forecasts could help humanitarian organizations recognize developments before they happen and react more quickly.
Migrants preparing to travel north into Libya.

Migrants preparing to travel north into Libya.

Foto: ZOHRA BENSEMRA/ REUTERS
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Displaced women in Mali preparing food. The coronavirus will worsen the suffering already being experienced by many people.

Displaced women in Mali preparing food. The coronavirus will worsen the suffering already being experienced by many people.

Foto: MICHELE CATTANI/ AFP
Sometimes, the price of goats can provide a clue to an unfolding wave of migration.

Sometimes, the price of goats can provide a clue to an unfolding wave of migration.

Foto: ZOHRA BENSEMRA/ REUTERS
Sudden events, such as the displacement of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, are difficult for the algorithm to forecast.

Sudden events, such as the displacement of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, are difficult for the algorithm to forecast.

Foto: MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/ AFP
The software reveals connections between numerous different variables.

The software reveals connections between numerous different variables.

Foto: Danish Refugee Council
"Forecasting is not an exact science and should not be the only factor in decision making."

Charlotte Slente, general secretary of the Danish Refugee Council

This piece is part of the Global Societies series. The project runs for three years and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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