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.

We’re looking to build a more inclusive future and involve people in crisis in the design and delivery of supportive services and systems that help them gain greater control over their lives.

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 window -  four community-driven innovation labs 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. 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 in the design, development and delivery of aid and take forward solutions that are targeted and locally relevant. 

The four innovation labs operating as part of the DEPP innovation labs are as follows:

Udhvabani, Bangladesh: The lab is focused on examining and improving the built environment in areas most vulnerable to disasters in Bangladesh, particularly Korail - a densely populated, informal settlement area of Dhaka. The lab prioritises and supports local solutions and community leadership. 

Mahali, Jordan: Led by International Rescue Committee’s Airbel Center in Jordan,  Mahali is a community-driven innovation lab focused on fostering community engagement in identifying and solving challenges posed by long-term displacement and supporting people to take forward viable and scalable solutions that benefit refugees and host communities. 

Maarifa Kona, Kenya: Adeso, iHub and Mastercard have created two community spaces in the rural counties of Marsabit and Garissa in northeast Kenya socommunities can explore and develop better innovative mechanisms to build resilience and preparedness in the face of drought. 

TUKLAS, Philippines: The lab seeks to discover and support home-grown solutions to disaster risk reduction and management. It is managed by a consortium of INGOs (Plan, CARE, Action Against Hunger and the Citizens' Disaster Response Center) that have a strong connections with communities across the country. 

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