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Data Initiative Aiding Libya's Flood Relief Efforts

A screen shot of the Darna Vally Crisis Map, a live reporting platform initiated by Libyan activists aiding flood relief efforts following devastating floods in the North African nation.

Following the catastrophic floods that struck eastern Libya, activists say getting timely and precise data has proven to be a challenging task. In response, a group of Libyan data analysts and activists launched a "Derna Storm Daniel Live Reports Page," an online platform offering live updates to support flood relief operations. For more, VOA's Hassuna Baishu spoke to Mohammed Zaid, co-founder of the initiative.

Editor’s note: VOA's Hassuna Baishu spoke to Tripoli-based Mohammed Zaid, the co-founder of "Derna Storm Daniel Live Reports Page," an online platform offering live updates to support flood relief operations, on September 15, 2023. These highlights are from their conversation and have been edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: Could you provide us with some insights into the Derna Storm Daniel Live Reports Page initiative? How did the idea originate? And what was the driving force behind it?

Zaid: We are originally almost five or six people, but the leading forces are Mohammed Zaid, which includes, myself, Abdul Malik Yunus, Asma Khalifa and Mohamed Al-Kemishi. We are originally from different locations across Libya. We came up with the idea because we were in a [WhatsApp] group together and a media outlet asked us for the number of death cases at the moment and rescue missions that participated and supported Libya. And then a few minutes later, another one asked the same question. So, the idea came out in the public group chat and, one of us said: 'Can't we make something visual?' So then, I sent the idea to the group. If anyone has data analysis and data science skills, let's gather a group data science for good and create this initiative. And we started collecting information in a spreadsheet and we started collecting and cleaning data. It was too much. But then I worked on visualizing it because I have data visualization skills and made it live on a live report dashboard page. It automatically changed in seconds.

Media outlets and rescue missions can find out about the recent numbers, and recent figures that they care about and that they want in one click, on one website, as a resource. Also, for the online fundraisers, how much [money] they collect, [the platform] changes whenever they collect something. It automatically changes in the live report.

VOA: Can you explain to us how the data for the Derna Storm Daniel Live Reports Page is sourced and verified?

Zaid: For the numbers we rely on, [we get it from] different reliable sources. I can name them: Libya Red Crescent, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the rescue missions, local trusted CSOs [Civil Society Organizations] websites and pages for the donations and campaigns, Mafqud, [which is an organization] for the confirmation of lost statistics, as well as the Libyan Red Crescent and also fundraisers. We just looked up all the fundraising websites, embassies and official representatives.

VOA: In terms of collaboration, do you have any form of coordination with authorities in both the eastern and western regions?

Zaid: There is no direct coordination with the government, but there is coordination between us as a group, with the Libyan Red Crescent, the Libyan CSOs, these different local and international representatives, embassies and officials. This is just to make sure that everyone has access to this information and that they update whenever something is new, and so we can add it. That way, everyone has access to this new information simultaneously.

Libyan Activists, Data Analysts Launch Online Initiative for Flood Relief Efforts
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