According to Otto Farkas, senior adviser for innovation and partnering at World Vision International, the Christian relief charity is pioneering a more efficient way of delivering aid to its beneficiaries.
In place of registering beneficiaries manually for the distribution of food or cash, World Vision is steadily moving to a digital system in 15 countries so far out of the 100 in which it has a presence. Aid workers use mobile computers to scan beneficiaries' ID cards, enabling the charity to track the items that the beneficiaries receive.
The implementation of the system has resulted in time savings for the charity of between 50 and 90 per cent and a reduction in costs of up to 17 per cent.
In this shift, which began in 2008, World Vision has been assisted by the computer technology company Intermec. "Intermec was instrumental in helping us to understand how this system can work and be sustained," says Farkas. "Intermec was able to pinpoint that it was the software, rather than the hardware, that we needed, and the company put us in touch with its software partners."
Intermec also donated to the charity 30 mobile computers, worth a total of about £25,400, for use in the relief work after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. "We are proud to have served to alleviate the suffering in Haiti," says Tim Eusterman, senior director of industry marketing at the company.
Other charities, such as Oxfam GB and Save the Children, are testing the digital system on a pilot basis, and World Vision is hoping for shared deployment in refugee or displaced people's camps.