United Nations hastens relief efforts in APAC with SAP tool

Photo courtesy of UN OCHA

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) picked SAP’s 4W-Wizard tool that is intended to enable the agency to realise time savings and to focus on delivering humanitarian aid during disasters.

OCHA’s adoption of the SAP 4W Wizard tool in humanitarian missions across the Asia Pacific region is intended to help people in Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, and Cambodia, as well as recent crises in the Philippines, Turkey, and South Sudan by bringing together conversational AI, data analytics, and automation.

John Marinos, former regional information management officer for APAC-Japan at OCHA, said that every minute counts when it comes to providing fast and effective humanitarian relief. 

“In one case, the 4W-Wizard tool from SAP helped us to reduce the time taken to process data, transforming what used to take a massive amount of effort and resources into something easy and quick to do,” said Marinos. “That makes a huge difference in our work – and by extension, to the people we support.”

He said that about 235 million people globally have needed humanitarian assistance and protection this year, but COVID-19 and the ongoing travel restrictions have forced OCHA to scale back the number of international aid workers they can deploy, severely impacting the support they could provide to vulnerable populations.

“It means we have to find new ways to save time and resources, so can ensure every second and every dollar is put to the right place,” added Marinos.

In Nepal, for example, the OCHA team used the SAP 4W-Wizard in its launch of a Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 response, requesting $83 million worth of life-saving assistance to more than 9 million people. 

The tool was aimed at minimising time-consuming manual tasks and allowing workers to focus on implementing a proactive, anticipatory approach to prepare for future disasters like monsoons, securing emergency funds and mitigating suffering for the most vulnerable.

The 4W-Wizard, which runs on the SAP Business Technology Platform and uses machine learning and natural language processing technologies, uses information on the aid rendered by NGOs to help improve visibility, collaboration, and planning on a common platform.

“The future of humanitarian response will be smarter — tapping on technology to help connect the dots, enable coordination, and mitigate waste and inefficiencies that result from manual reporting,” said Carsten Boekholt, industry and customer innovation advisor at SAP APJ.