Cisco and Mercy Corps not too long ago accomplished a five-year Know-how for Influence partnership centered on delivering humanitarian help and growth help quicker, higher and to extra individuals around the globe by accelerating digital options. There’s loads to have fun and replicate on, particularly as we middle our power on our new partnership targeted on fostering local weather adaptation and resilience within the Horn of Africa.
Beneath is a dialog I had not too long ago with Carolyn Florey, Senior Director of Mercy Corps’ Know-how for Growth Staff, reflecting on our transformational partnership, and looking out ahead to what’s subsequent.
Carolyn: Mercy Corps and Cisco have been partnering for 15 years! Our most up-to-date five-year Know-how for Influence partnership reached greater than 12 million individuals throughout 45 international locations, and it has additionally influenced the broader humanitarian and growth sector, and Mercy Corps’ capability as a company. What outcomes are you most happy with?
Erin: I’ve beloved seeing the applications evolve through the years — from the earliest proof of ideas and pilots, to some initiatives being replicated throughout different areas and scaled throughout the group. The good thing about a multi-year partnership is that it has afforded us the time to check options, to pivot and adapt when issues don’t go as deliberate, and to scale initiatives that gained traction and had an influence. In lots of instances, we now have recognized new purposes and alternatives to use these options to challenges we hadn’t even anticipated on the partnership’s outset. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, for instance, we noticed how essential expertise options have been to proceed supporting susceptible populations. Mercy Corps was properly positioned to reply, leveraging our work constructing digital communities to ship trusted and dependable data on COVID-19, and our initiatives to digitize money and vouchers to ship money help faster and extra effectively to these in dire want.
We see our funding as catalytic, so it has been gratifying to see this borne out by our Know-how for Influence partnership. Our help has allowed Mercy Corps to put money into its individuals, instruments, and tech-based programming to drive higher effectivity and influence. In doing so, Mercy Corps has been in a position to exhibit the worth of this help, leading to higher institutional funding, further funding and new partnerships which have helped additional scale these efforts. It’s unimaginable to see Cisco-supported expertise initiatives now embedded in 116 Mercy Corps applications in 45 international locations!
Erin: How about you, Carolyn? Which initiatives do you’re feeling have particularly moved the needle for Mercy Corps’ work?
Carolyn: The Know-how for Influence partnership was extremely distinctive in that it touched every part from operations to innovation. You used the phrase “catalytic” to explain Cisco’s funding — and it has really been a catalyst for enhancing how Mercy Corps operates as a company. Our monitoring and analysis (MEL) work is a powerful instance of this. As humanitarians, we work in very complicated and fragile environments. These embody communities experiencing battle from armed teams, acute starvation, and far uncertainty. Program monitoring and evaluating is important to the success of our work, as a result of it permits us to know if our applications are creating the supposed influence we search, and really supporting individuals in quickly evolving conditions. Digitizing and automating our MEL processes has been a recreation changer for our program groups, permitting us to have a richer, extra full understanding of our applications’ influence a lot quicker.
Carolyn: In what methods are you hoping to see the partnership construct on its successes and learnings as we give attention to some of the urgent points we collectively face: local weather change?
Erin: I imagine there’s a direct hyperlink between local weather change and humanitarian crises. We all know that communities in low-income international locations are disproportionately affected by local weather change and lack the sources to adapt and reply to an rising variety of crises that may be exacerbated by local weather change, akin to floods and drought. Mercy Corps’ new 10-year Pathway to Risk technique, centered round constructing resilient communities, resonated with Cisco and mirrored our elevated give attention to addressing local weather change and constructing resilience.
Mercy Corps works on a few of right this moment’s hardest challenges, with communities which might be on the forefront of the local weather disaster. Over the course of our Know-how for Influence partnership, Mercy Corps has examined, tailored, and utilized modern expertise options to enhance the way in which they ship help. It due to this fact made sense that we expanded our partnership, constructing on what we’ve realized and developed, and see how we are able to apply this method and expertise to assist communities adapt and construct resilience to their altering environments. I’m hoping that, as with our Know-how for Influence partnership, we can leverage the actions and applied sciences from our work within the Horn of Africa, and apply these to different areas and communities equally affected by local weather change.
Erin: Carolyn, I’d love to listen to your perspective on this. How do you see expertise taking part in a job in Mercy Corps’ local weather resilience work?
Carolyn: There are a number of methods our current work could be expanded and tailored to construct local weather resilience. For instance, we are able to mix digital money funds with our disaster evaluation work to make automated funds upfront of extreme climate. We will present digital early warning alerts earlier than these crises happen, and likewise digital data afterwards in order that the communities we work with have the data they should entry providers and help. Know-how opens the door for us to construct and obtain local weather resilience from a number of angles, lots of that are already mirrored in our work.
In Kenya, by our new partnership with Cisco, we’re rising the uptake and use of digital data providers and instruments amongst key decision-makers to allow them to make data-informed selections to fight the consequences of local weather change — which in Kenya, seems to be like extreme drought. We see potential in scaling this method to the broader Horn of Africa area and past.
Carolyn: We not too long ago had the chance to go to Wajir, Kenya collectively and see a few of our local weather adaptation programming in motion. What have been some highlights of that have for you?
Erin: The spotlight of those visits is at all times assembly the individuals: the native Mercy Corps crew, their authorities and group companions, and doubtless most necessary, the agropastoralists, whose lives and livelihoods are most impacted by local weather change. It was extremely shifting to see the drought firsthand, and to take heed to the tales and views of these affected. Whereas in some methods disheartening, it was additionally inspiring to see the numerous methods through which Mercy Corps is partnering with these communities to adapt to their altering setting, and innovate to enhance their livelihoods.
One other spotlight (for the expertise, not essentially the style): making an attempt heat camel milk, a Wajir staple!
Carolyn: Combating local weather change is perhaps a very powerful problem of our lifetime, and one which clearly can’t be solved by one group alone. How is Cisco addressing local weather change? What function do you suppose these partnerships play in tackling world points?
Erin: Cisco’s objective is to “Energy an Inclusive Future for All” — and that additionally means by and with all. Collaboration with companions massive and small, world and native, has at all times been a part of our method to driving lasting and systemic change. One space the place Cisco has the potential to make a significant influence is with our clients. How can we assist them use our merchandise and options to cut back their environmental footprint and obtain their sustainability objectives? We’re working to cut back the power consumption of our merchandise, and construct them utilizing round design ideas that may lengthen their life cycle and cut back the quantity of supplies they require. However past that, we are going to proceed to have a look at how we are able to proceed to associate with organizations like Mercy Corps — as a result of we now have seen that after we mix the power of the humanitarian sector’s experience with our core competencies in expertise and connectivity, we are able to have a deeper and longer-lasting influence.
Word: Photographs courtesy of Mercy Corps