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Julia Guthrie
August 05, 2015

DIY Technology: Spreading Habitats and Humanity in Nepal


nepalhabitat-1.jpgWhen a devastating earthquake struck Nepal last April, Habitat for Humanity's Chris Needham was tapped to lead the organization's disaster response team. The mission? Provide emergency shelter kits for families to build temporary housing they could later turn into permanent homes.

When facing a challenge like this, every dollar counts for an organization like Habitat for Humanity. The relationship is direct: resource and time misuse means another family goes without help. Given the terrain and infrastructure of Nepal, Needham knew that operating efficiently would be tough.

To ensure resources could be optimized, on-the-ground family surveys were developed to tell Habitat for Humanity where materials were most needed and how well the community was being served. Needham realized the only way to collect the data was to go mobile. He turned to AppSheet to provide the platform and built a mobile app his team could carry from village to village on their mobile tablets.

“After giving out about 1,500 kits, we were getting good information back to be able to make some corrections, so the next 3,000 to 3,500 kits were tweaked to be more effective,” Chris said. “ We were able to protect the investment we and the donors have made in building those temporary shelter kits by having that information quickly.” 

Nepal1 A Habitat for Humanity volunteer uses the app to collect information from a family affected by the quake.

DIY mobile technology is changing the way non-profits deliver services, increasing their ability to reach more people in need, save resources, and communicate with members and each other while out in the field. Services like AppSheet allow cash-strapped organizations to tap into mobile technology they’ve never had access to before. And being able to create solutions without the need for an expensive third party enables them to build applications at-will that fit their unique needs.

“The app I developed is helping save resources, but that’s not the real story. What it really does is give us info quickly,” said Chris. “The best thing we did was give distribution team information so they could make immediate adjustments to make our efforts ten times more impactful.”

Habitat for Humanity plans to use the app they built with AppSheet for construction of the next 100,000 homes in Nepal.

Click here to get started creating your own apps!

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