Practices and consequences of using humanitarian technologies in volatile aid settings

J.P. Kalkman

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article presents the results of an exploratory study into aid agencies’ use of technologies for security purposes. Since there appears to be a consensus in the aid sector that areas of operations are increasingly dangerous, aid agencies are upgrading their security strategies by adopting technological innovations. I conducted Skype interviews with security managers and country directors responsible for operations in dangerous countries. These interviews show that humanitarian technologies are more and more used in volatile countries for security reasons. In this light, I empirically assess the critique of some academics (1) that risks are not mitigated but transferred to more vulnerable actors, (2) that technology is not a neutral fix but has local political repercussions, and (3) that international and national aid workers grow increasingly distant from their local counterparts and the people they aim to help. This article contributes to the literature by critically re-evaluating and nuancing these critiques.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of International Humanitarian Action
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2018


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