Hackathon bridges data gaps on climate change and migration

Hackathon bridges data gaps on climate change and migration Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.


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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has hosted the first hackathon on ‘Bridging Climate Change and Human Mobility’, in collaboration with the data cloud company Snowflake, to provide insights on the intersection of environmental factors with migration management and policymaking in the East and Horn of Africa (EHoA).

The two-part hackathon brought together participants in London (October 6-7) and Nairobi (October 23-26) to explore data-driven solutions and improve understanding of the complex relationship between climate change, disasters, environmental degradation, and human mobility in the region.

The initiative brought together 50 participants from various sectors including the tech industry and academia such as Microsoft, the University of Liverpool, the London School of Economics and the Addis Ababa University who work in areas critical to addressing climate migration in the EHoA region.

“We are thrilled to host this hackathon and, with Snowflake’s help, transform ideas into action, while harnessing the potential of data to address climate change and mobility challenges,” said Laura Nistri, IOM’s displacement tracking matrix global coordinator at the event’s kick-off. “Human mobility must be integrated into national climate adaptation plans.”

Participants in Nairobi presented different analytic approaches tested on 70 different datasets to explore the feasibility of modeling the links between different drivers of mobility in the region. In addition, participants explored the use of new technologies, including telecom data and machine learning for analysing migration flows and identifying new indicators.

Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia continue to experience the longest and most severe drought in over 40 years, putting a strain on livelihoods, rain-fed agriculture, ecosystem services and people’s resilience as well as increasing forced migration and related vulnerabilities. As of June 2023, 3 million people are internally displaced due to drought across these countries, with an estimated 6.6 million internally displaced people living in drought-affected areas.

Fawad Qureshi, global industry field CTO, Snowflake, said: “Together with IOM, and with the power of modern cloud data platforms, we can use deep data insights to rapidly create a more accurate picture of the impact of climate change on migration.

“We are experiencing a world that is undergoing seismic climate changes, and IOM’s hackathon is a springboard to better understand its impact on migration trends, and finding solutions that can positively impact lives.”

Following the event, IOM and Snowflake will produce a comprehensive report and white paper synthesizing the results, to be published in the lead-up to COP28.

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Tags: Africa, climate change, hackathon

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