Crowdsourced Data Provides Rapid Insight into Humanitarian Needs after Mount Nyiragongo Erupts

Crowdsourced Data Provides Rapid Insight into Humanitarian Needs after Mount Nyiragongo Erupts

Premise Contributors help provide valuable on-the-ground insights that identify needs for quick humanitarian solutions.


By Alexandra Wilson and Emily Guthrie |

The risks we face from natural hazards, hurricanes, earthquakes, and landslides are inherent and something we must plan for. 

Monitoring for them beforehand and preparing for the eventual aftermath can save lives and prevent true disaster. Premise Contributors around the world have been instrumental in providing insight into on-the-ground conditions and areas of need in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters.

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Take, for instance, the recent eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The side of the volcano opened up on the evening of May 22, spilling fast moving lava in the direction of nearby residents. 

Thousands evacuated the area as lava flows destroyed homes and buildings in the outskirts of Goma—a city of nearly 700,000—cut off roads and caused power outages across large areas.  Approximately 8,000 people went east to cross the border into Rwanda and another 25,000 people fled northwest.  

Premise quickly launched a survey in North Kivu, DRC and Rubavu district, Rwanda, to understand the impact of the eruption, including access to essential goods and services. The survey reached more than 500 Premise Contributors in under a week. 

The data collected provide valuable insights to rapidly inform needs for humanitarian aid. For example: 

  • 63% reported that roads or transportation infrastructure sustained damage.
  • 56% of Contributors reported that everyday items or supplies were not currently available in their local area (fresh fruits and vegetables were the scarcest, with 34% saying they were unavailable, followed by fish or meat at 31%).
  • 47% experienced loss of electricity.
  • 41% reported their greatest concern following the eruption was the provision and quality of water.

The results also highlight the importance of disaster preparedness: an average 81% of Contributors stated they were either completely unprepared or not adequately prepared for the eruption. Of the 55% of people who did not evacuate, 34% stated this was because they could not leave their work followed by 26% who did not know where to go.

Days within the eruption and aftershocks, Premise Contributors also provided numerous photos, documenting damage and helping identify critical infrastructure damage and their exact locations. 

The ability to quickly collect data after an event can provide a real-time picture of on the ground needs, allowing more efficient cooperation among humanitarian organizations. And in the DRC, where the threat of disease, internal conflict, and natural disaster unfortunately convene, providing effective and efficient aid is of the utmost importance. Premise offers the ability to collect real-time data, even in areas with limited humanitarian access, to better inform decision making and facilitate effective, targeted humanitarian relief efforts.

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