DIHAD winds up with six-point declaration

Dubai, March 31: A six-point Declaration was adopted at the culmination of the 8th Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD) on Wednesday at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Declaration focused on information and communication technologies as instruments that need to be duly tailored to the information management needs of humanitarian actors.

The conference proved to be the largest humanitarian event in the Middle East, as it attracted world’s key decision makers, procurement and logistics officials, NGOs, UN Agencies, governmental departments and international associations, specialists in the humanitarian industry, in addition to the humanitarian individuals, researchers and academics who came from all parts of the world to benefit from the conference and the interactive sessions held during DIHAD. It carried the theme, “New Technologies: How these impact humanitarian and development operations”.

Gerhard Putman-Cramer, the Director of the DIHAD International Scientific Advisory Board (DISAB), said: “DIHAD excelled this year and the issues discussed in the conference covered major challenges that humanitarian activists face during their missions.”

He said that the formula of DIHAD is unique as it has both the conference and the exhibition. “In addition to the topics which highlight major challenges and solutions for people working in this field, DIHAD has again lived up to its growing reputation as a unique, authoritative and international event.”

Abdul Salam Al Madani, Executive chairman of DIHAD Conference and Exhibition and President of Index Holding, said: “DIHAD 2011 was privileged by the attendance of the world’s key decision makers who had collaborated and united to cultivate the spirit of promoting development, harmony and empowerment. DIHAD has now progressed ahead in the achievement of this vision.

“The United Nations had always played a key role in DIHAD since its inception eight years ago, and this year we were honored by the participation of Ms. Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator and United Nations Under Secretary – General for Humanitarian Affairs, which reflects the world’s commitment towards humanitarian development. Together we strive ahead to continue serving humanity and upload all human values, transcending boarders, regional and international.”

Under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and organised by Index Conferences and Exhibitions with support from its strategic, humanitarian and corporate partners, DIHAD was opened by UN Messenger of Peace Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of Shaikh Mohammed, at the presence of Ahmed Humaid Al Mazroui, Chairman of the UAE Red Crescent Authority; Ibrahim Bumelha, President of DISAB; Valerie Amos, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator; and Fillipo Grandi, Commissioner-General, UNRWA.

The conference reviewed the impact of new technologies on coordination and information management. A panel of experts on satellite technology from UNITAR/UNOSAT, Google, the EU Joint Research Centre and European Space Imaging, addressed the issues of how related applications are utilised in both humanitarian and development assistance activities.

The session illustrated the availability of actionable information for the purpose of determining the impact of disasters as well as for the coordinated response to these and for subsequent recovery. In this context, innovative web-based applications were highlighted, as were various interfaces and the importance of content-based programmes for satellite analysis in support of humanitarian relief. As satellite-derived mapping has had a tangible impact on the conduct of relief, the need for further standards and validation procedures was clarified.

The conference reviewed methods and methodologies whereby available new technologies can be capitalised on in regard to the accurate and rapid diagnosis of the needs of population groups affected by crises and disasters, an absolute necessity in the pursuit of improving response actions.

Complementary presentations were made in regard to the importance and role of communications in emergencies both for the affected and for the responders, from and operational as well as from a normative perspective.

The floods in Pakistan were highlighted during special sessions delivered by Jamil Ahmed Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to the UAE, during DIHAD. The session touched upon the utilisation of new technologies (including remote sensing, GIS and GPS) in the overall response effort. Examples of new food technology and cash-for-food transfer were provided in this context.

The conference also discussed the manner in which new technologies are assisting disaster prone countries with preparedness and capacity building.