The humanitarian sector must lift barriers to user-led innovation by refugee communities if it is to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, says a new report, Humanitarian Innovation: The State of the Art, published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and presented at the Humanitarian Innovation Conference at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, on Saturday (19 July).
The trajectory of humanitarian assistance is unsustainable — with the cost trebling and the number of people requiring help doubling over the past ten years — and humanitarian tools and services are often ill-suited to modern emergencies, says the report.
“The risk-averse sector needs to embrace innovation, private sector involvement and bottom-up solutions to keep up with modern challenges”.
The current debate focuses on improving the tools and practices of international humanitarian actors and has overlooked the “talents, skills and aspirations of crisis-affected people themselves”, who remain a “largely untapped source of sustainable and creative solutions”.
An alternative to these short-term, project-based solutions by external actors is user-centred design that embraces indigenous innovation and participatory methods, it says.
This, it adds, involves recognising and understanding innovation within communities and putting them at the heart of the humanitarian innovation process.
The report calls for early consultation on the design of solutions to make sure they fit with cultural practices, and for more investment in “innovation spaces and opportunities that mentor, accelerate, and incubate the initiative of affected populations and local organisations”.
It also says that international organisations should ensure users drive the process of defining priority areas for innovation, testing out products and processes to meet those needs, and providing feedback during implementation and scaling.
The report will be published on the OCHA website.
We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.
Design for Ageing Gracefully Rethinking Health and Wellness for the Elderly: Public Services Asian Insights & Design Innovation, DesignSingapore Council October 2015
As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council on understanding how the elderly interact with public services and how we can look towards improving their lives with design. […]
A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]
Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]
Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015 What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]