Linguistic barriers are a longstanding problem in humanitarian operations. A 2011 report from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Disaster Relief 2.0, cited lack of translation support as a “perennial hidden issue…delaying critical communications and disenfranchising affected populations.”
In addition to ensuring that vital information is both accessible and comprehensible, linguistically appropriate communications can reassure affected communities, increase trust in aid workers, and effectively promote behavior change. However, the majority of international aid nonprofits are equipped only in major world languages that often do not match those of the affected population. Similarly, official government languages may be spoken or understood by only a minority of a country’s citizens.
The only service of its kind, Words of Relief (WoR) bridges existing language gaps to:
WoR was first deployed in 2014 in Kenya and later during the Ebola crisis where WoR translators produced more than 100 posters, social mobilization messages, Ebola videos, and maps translated into 30 languages.
Words of Relief package was created for potential partners and funders. Fully defining the Words of Relief tools for organizations who are looking for better language solutions during crisis, and we will package it professionally.
In 2016 TWB were awarded our ‘Journey to Scale’ grant in 2016. Their pathway to scale involves developing the platform to meet emergent needs (such as on-the-ground interpretation and voice capabilities), developing new and more effective outlets for disseminating vital information directly to affected populations, promoting increased use of the platform across a broader spectrum of humanitarian NGOs, and implementing a new business model to ensure the long-term sustainability of its services.
In the next stage of their journey Translators without Borders explore how common language services help improve the impact and reach of humanitarian action.View
The first step was to establish which languages crisis-affected people speak and understandView
Watch the team's video about their work in Kenya.View
The team are now focusing on developing and rapidly scaling up their support to overcome language barriers in crises in places like Bangladesh.View
TWB have been gathering evidence for effective communication and developing training resources to better support language service providers in crises.View
Cholera in Yemen, famine in South Sudan and slavery in Bangkok - the commonality across these stories is lack of free access to trusted information.View
The team share their first blog on their scale journey.View
As Translators Without Borders come to the end of their pilot project... must admit it’s been an exciting journey though not without challenges.View
For one refugee in Greece, the words to describe her illness were lacking because there were no interpreters at the hospital she was taken to.View
The Diffusion grant allows TWB to explore different financing paths, especially the development of packages for interested agencies.View
Rebecca Petras, deputy director for Translators without Borders, talks about the successes, challenges and next steps for their project so far.View
Mike Levin, a journalist for the Global South Development Magazine writes about how TWB’s Words of Relief helped with the Ebola virus in West Africa.View
Communicating with Communities is a critical component in delivering aid during a crisis or disaster. It’s such a great need that if wrongly delivered, it can complicate other responses to the crisis or disaster.View
Words of Relief is the first crisis relief translation network in the world, collaborating with NGOs/INGOs and the government to improve communication with communities.View
While public health information is important and critical, it would be even more effective if the public could access basic Ebola information in the language they understand best.View
One piece of Words of Relief is the Spider Network of rapid response community translators, who can translate from English/Swahili into Kenyan regional languages in key geographic areas prone to disaster.View
The team have been creating greater awareness that language matters during a disaster.View
It has been a great month for the Words of Relief team following our launch in Nairobi in March. April was focused on further development of the digital application of Words of Relief: the Words of Relief Digital Exchange (WoRDE)View
We are also documenting what we have learnt from this latest crisis to improve our own response to the next that will undoubtedly come, and to provide important input to our Words of Relief pilot project, due to kick off in Kenya next month.View
All our Journey to Scale projects have been keeping video diaries of their progress. Watch them to see how the different projects have grown.
Make Music Matter & Panzi Foundation are scaling their innovative approach to reducing levels of anxiety and PTSD in GBV survivors through its unique approach to music therapy.
Read our report on the challenges to scaling innovation in the humanitarian sector.
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