The future of Surge

A new initiative called HumanSurge aims to become the Uber or Airbnb of crisis response, but unless it can adapt to the rapidly changing landscape on the ground it is unlikely to solve the “surge” problem.


The race to get the right responders to the right place after a sudden crisis has long been a challenge for humanitarian agencies.

In line with the recommendations of a baseline 2007 study, aid groups have in recent years improved their ability to “surge”, as the industry calls it, by creating internal rosters, providing organisational support and releasing the necessary funding faster. Organisations able to provide rapid, specialised and detailed services – like ACAPS, MapAction and JIPS – have also sprung up.

But a new report, published this month by the NGO consortium START Network, argues that despite this progress, surge mechanisms have failed to keep pace with an environment that is constantly changing.


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