An investment of US$6 million is being made in a system used to monitor food security among refugees in Africa.

The money donated to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – from South Korea – will be invested in WFP’s Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) initiative.

mVAM uses mobile phone technology to gauge if refugees are getting enough food, via calls and texts. A two-way comms function also enables data to be sent and received. Research is underway to see how additional technologies could be incorporated to collect data, including ‘chatbots’, Facebook and online surveys.

“Thanks to this generous and timely donation from the Republic of Korea, we will be able to regularly and systematically measure the food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable people, which significantly improves the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian interventions across Africa,” said Arif Husain, WFP’s Chief Economist.

Refugees and displaced people in 10 countries across Africa – Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – will benefit from mVAM.

“Korea’s generous support will give marginalized populations a greater voice. For WFP to be able to instantly reach thousands of people, and for them to reach us, to tell us if their needs are being met, is a powerful mechanism for accountability – an opportunity to use data for good,” added mVAM chief, Jean-Martin Bauer.