translators without borders


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Help bridge the language gap in humanitarian work.

Improving humanitarian assistance by prioritising translation needs through automatic impact assessment.

Background: When humanitarians respond to disasters, they need to communicate with affected people, community leaders, and NGOs. Often however, they do not speak the same language. Translators without Borders (TWB) helps to bridge this gap by translating large amounts of key documents for humanitarian organizations.

Problem: Due to the high volume of requests, we need to be able to prioritize the translations that are the most urgent. However, we have little information about the impact of the translations we have done so far. Knowing how effective previous translations were can help us prioritize future translations.

 We define impact as a mix of factors including but not limited to document type, audience, beneficiaries, relevance for concurrent crises, and sectors (Health, Logistics, Nutrition, Protection, Shelter, Water/Sanitation/Hygiene, Camp Coordination and Camp Management, Early Recovery, Education, Emergency Telecommunications, Food Security).     

Solution: Help TWB translate the most critical information first: build a tool to assess the impact of previous translations and to prioritize future ones.

Outcome: A solution that can:

a)    Automatically assess the impact of translations produced by TWB in the past (maybe exploring the data, using Machine Learning, to find out meaningful patterns,)


b)    Predict the impact of a new requested translation.


a) A static solution for a (repeatable) one-time analysis would suffice;

b) However, it would ideally be available via an API for integration with TWB’s translation management system. 


  • TWB corpus of ~5000 documents with the following metadata for each document:

    • original file format (.docx, .pdf, .pptx etc.)

    • time of translation request

    • NGO making the request

    • target language (source language is English for majority of the documents)

    • target country (probably of limited reliability)

The documents will be provided as text files.

  • Data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)