What We Do Innovation

Innovation is an inevitable force driving progress, helping humanitarians, development professionals and those affected by disaster respond and adapt to increasingly volatile environments and growing threats. Rapid technological development is changing ways we communicate, connect and solve pressing global challenges, bringing both advantage and risk.

But are people in crisis really included in the design and delivery of changing humanitarian services and systems?

We're seeking to tip the balance and create supportive environments for disaster-affected people to access and participate in humanitarian technology and innovation funds or programmes and ensure people have a say in aid-related decisions and can hold aid providers to account. We're striving for a bottom-up, locally rooted approach to innovating in disaster contexts - people in crisis taking part in shaping solutions. 

Along with Start Network, we're leading UK Aid's two-year Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) Innovation Labs -  four community-driven innovation hubs in Bangladesh, Kenya, Jordan and Philippines. The labs seek to find and grow local, scalable solutions to protect communities living in disaster-prone environments and advance innovation in the sector by involving people in crisis at all stages of the process. Each lab follows a human- or user-centred design approach to innovation - now a recognised viable model to reshaping action, which is giving rise to a ‘client’ focused approach to aid. Undoubtedly, this approach is driving progress on Grand Bargain commitments around ‘participation’ and ‘localisation’, opening up more creative channels for those affected by disaster to have direct input and lead action. 

CDAC Network puts people's information needs first and creates two-way communication channels between aid providers and affected populations so we can transform humanitarian assistance and reduce suffering collectively. 

Contact: Hannah Murphy, Communication and Community Engagement Advisor, Innovation and Technology Programmes

What they desperately needed was access to local information in a language they understood – could they go home? Where were the local services and who were all these foreigners who said they were coming to help?
Mark Frohardt, Executive Director of Internews Center for Innovation and Learning
I can’t see, so when my radio was destroyed in the cyclone, I felt very isolated. Now that I have a radio, I feel like I can see!
A blind monk in Burma who received a radio after Cyclone Nargis
Poor information flow is undoubtedly the biggest source of dissatisfaction, anger and frustration among affected people.
Tsunami Evaluation Coalition Synthesis Report
If we understand what is going on, we can be patient...
A man talking to the CDA Listening Project in Aceh
A community without a radio is worth nothing...People have already realized here that without radio the region is dead
Internews Humanitarian Information Service in Eastern Chad - Rahma Mohamed Ibed
I would say that registration [of those in camps] would have been almost impossible without the support of the communications teams.
CCCM Cluster Coordinator Haiti
We were trying to be a community safety valve – to sit the two groups down together and find out how they felt about the problems. If we couldn’t get them into the studio we would send the reporters out to the camps.
Radio Absoun, Chad
When people work and sweat in the field together their relationship becomes stronger, and when disaster strikes they will do virtually anything for their team. FRR seeks to build this kind of team in disaster prone countries before disaster strikes and has been taking this approach since 2007.
Mike Adams, First Response Radio