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Social Innovation Podcast – Episode 14 – Jeppe Mariager-Lam – People In Need – The Use of Technology in a Humanitarian Context

Jeppe Mariager-Lam is originally from Denmark.  He is currently the Technology and Innovations Manager at People in Need in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  He first came to Cambodia after his wife got her Masters degree in International Development and got an internship with an NGO in Phnom Penh.  This was actually Jeppe’s first time out of Europe.

His first job in Cambodia was working in a project management role for a software agency called Golden Gecko that was developing websites and apps for European clients.  Work went well and Jeppe got promoted to a senior position pretty quickly.  More interesting was he and his wife’s experience adapting to the differences of living in Cambodia.  In particular, they landed in Cambodia a day or two prior to the 2013 elections, which had its own, unique crisis.  This election was quite contentious and the security officer at his wife’s NGO did not allow them to leave he hotel where they were staying for a week after the election.  It was more surreal than scary…It was kind of like living in two different worlds.

After a couple of years of working in Cambodia, and a bit of burn-out, Jeppe and his wife decided to travel the world a bit, before they took on the responsibility of dogs and children…in no particular order.  While they were sitting and chatting on the Galapagos Islands, they both decided that they missed Cambodia and wanted to go back.  It just felt like home to them…So they came home and Jeppe worked as a CTO for a bit before finding himself at People in Need.  

People in Need is a “a non-governmental, non-profit organization founded on the ideals of humanism, freedom, equality and solidarity.”  Find out more here…Essentially, People in Need is a Czech based, global NGO with activities in over 25 countries, including the Philippines, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal and Cambodia in Asia.

The project that Jeppe was most excited about was a disaster management project, focused specifically on floods and disaster risk reduction in terms of getting people out of harms way before the floods become dangerous.  This is quite a significant problem in Cambodia.  Flood monitoring in Cambodia is not new.  However, the methodology used prior to Jeppe and People in Need applying their technical solution was concrete poles on the banks of rivers measuring water height.  Clearly, this was a suboptimal solution.  The solution put in place by People in Need employs state of the art IoT technology to enable flood measurement, management and disaster prevention remotely. 

Listen to the full episode to learn more about their innovative solution to a real world problem in Cambodia.