Humanitarian Innovation Day 2018: Meeting humanitarian needs through scalable solutions and innovative partnerships

Building on the positive experiences from last year, the Humanitarian Innovation Platform* organized Humanitarian Innovation Day on May 23rd. The main topic of the day was scaling of innovative solutions through cross-sector partnerships.

Sebastian Blomli, senior education advisor, Save the Children Norway.

Sebastian Blomli, senior education advisor, Save the Children Norway.

Foto: Emilie Skogvang

International and domestic guest speakers from donors, commercial actors, academia and humanitarian organisations attended the event to challenge thinking about the future of the humanitarian sector, present tested solutions, and offer insights into humanitarian innovation.


Internet of things, blockchain and “EdTech” to address humanitarian needs
Three innovation projects supported by Innovation Norway were presented at the event, with the aim to share learnings and challenges from the pilot phase- and future plans for scaling. First, Save the Children presented their learnings from testing the Leap Learning Lab in Somalia. The project explores how education technology, or “EdTech” can be utilized to provide more children with better learning. Second, the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) presented their project in the WASH sector. NCA have used open source remote sensing based on Internet of Things (IoT) to detect broken waterpoints. The project enables NCA to fix the waterpoints before people drink unsafe water and can thus prevent the spreading of disease. The third project presented was IFRC’s innovative project to utilize blockchain technology for enhanced data-management, digital ID and open loop cash assistance.


Private-humanitarian collaborations: it takes two to tango
The day continued with a panel discussion on possibilities and difficulties in humanitarian-private partnerships. The parties in the panel discussion agreed that there is a need for a more demand driven approach in humanitarian innovation, which must be based on evidence. This demands closer, strategic collaboration with the private sector. Building trust, being open and honest and finding common ground is important to establish healthy collaborative relationships.

“It takes two to tango. Both businesses and NGOs must adapt in order to form successful partnerships in humanitarian innovation”, says Elisabeth Fosseli Olsen, head of humanitarian innovation initiatives in NOREPS.


*The Humanitarian Innovation Platform is a consortium established with the aim to exchange ideas and experiences across organizations. It is a joint project undertaken by Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian Red Cross and Save the Children Norway to promote and foster innovation in the humanitarian sector. The consortium is supported and financed by Innovation Norway.