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About IRIN: IRIN launches re-designed website - humanitarian news and analysis updated daily


Photo: IRIN
NAIROBI, 14 February 2007 (IRIN) - Wondering what is going on in Guinea? How food aid works? What went wrong with the anti-HIV gel tests? What's the latest from Somalia? Can you imagine what it feels like for your fiancé to dump you after your leg is blown off in Iraq?

All of this - and much more on dozens of crises around the world - is available on the IRIN website, which today is re-launched boasting new content and features, an attractive new design and improved ease of use.

Formed in 1995, IRIN is a multimedia humanitarian news and analysis service covering crises in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and is a key project of the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), responsible for international emergency coordination, humanitarian advocacy and policy.

IRIN enjoys editorial independence from its donors and OCHA. Ninety-five percent of its readers regard IRIN as objective, according to a 2006 reader survey, while 78% feel IRIN reflected the views of the broader humanitarian community.

"IRIN has provided a unique and vital service to the humanitarian community and millions of people in need since 1995,” said Margareta Wahlström, the acting United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator. “The new IRIN website - dynamic, modern and flexible - is a key tool for humanitarian advocacy. IRIN is a unique source of humanitarian news and analysis; this new site is easier, quicker and more productive for the visitor."

IRIN's output makes a real impact on the lives of people facing extremely difficult situations around the world. Accessible and reliable reporting, produced to high journalistic and presentation standards, provides much-needed credible evidence to catalyse effective humanitarian response and lasting solutions for people in desperate need.

Growing demand led to the need for the new site, which offers daily news and analysis, personal testimonies, as well as audio and video clips highlighting humanitarian issues. All of this is easily accessible and freely available at the touch of a button.

IRIN material is republished on a range of popular news websites. This brings humanitarian issues to the attention of millions of readers whose favourite publications would otherwise not have the resources or awareness to cover the situations or issues themselves.

The new site makes it much easier for the humanitarian community to access IRIN's unique, reliable, impartial and compelling products: news, features, analysis, background, testimonies, interviews, facts and figures, photos, videos, audio and video clips. A new navigation structure, clarified by clean design, a stronger search facility and flexible e-mail update services provide a much stronger framework for the content.

Some of the positive feedback from user testing (which will continue, as we continue to enhance the site) includes: “a major improvement”; “more streamlined”; “IRIN has a broader, more impressive repertoire [than previously realised]”; “could be very influential in driving aid agency and media responses to a crisis”; other feedback urged further improvements in search and navigation which the IRIN team is working on. A website is never finished, and opening to the public today may reveal a bug or two that was previously overlooked – in that event, IRIN appeals to your patience.

The new site was rebuilt almost from scratch in-house by IRIN's own IT and editorial teams, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Additional consulting in computer programming and graphic design was sourced from South Africa and Kenya. The web site aims to balance the needs of bandwidth-rich and bandwidth-poor users, while taking advantage of widening Internet access and opportunities in multimedia. But plain text e-mail services will remain a core offering.

The underlying technology will provide the opportunity to introduce new services in the coming months. IRIN is currently working on providing high-resolution video, podcasts of audio programming and e-mail deliveries enhanced with photos and links.

Detailed analysis of website usage is possible in the new setup, allowing IRIN to better track the impact of its products and target its resources. Breakdowns are cross-referenced by country, time of day, areas of the site accessed, length of visit, entry and exit pages and incoming referrals. Almost every page encourages feedback to ensure IRIN is closely in touch with its audience.

Key among these partners is ReliefWeb, a sister project to IRIN. The two services are complementary: while ReliefWeb serves as a unique platform for humanitarian actors to post information essential for planning, operations and research, IRIN takes the daily temperature of the human impact of crises and disasters, through its journalistic work in close contact with affected populations. IRIN information is placed alongside information republished from a full range of humanitarian stakeholders; IRIN readers benefit from the value-added services that ReliefWeb provides, such as maps, background documentation and directories of links and contacts. The two sites enjoy similar levels of user traffic but have different audiences that only partially overlap (32% of IRIN survey respondents say they also use ReliefWeb regularly).

IRIN's major donors are Australia, Canada, Denmark, European Commission (ECHO), Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the USA (USAID).

Its core funding requirement for 2007 is in the region of $8 million, of which approximately 20% has so far been received or firmly committed. A full overview of IRIN's plans for 2007 and their associated costs are available in the 2007 Funding Document. Currently, IRIN's project work with local radio stations in Afghanistan and West Africa is under threat of closure due to lack of funding.

kt/pb/bp


Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Natural Disasters

[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.