The future of humanitarian aid: Field Ready Scale Vlog #4
Manufacturing humanitarian supplies in the field. We do this by making, training and innovating. Our long-term scaling goal is that in every humanitarian response, everyone will have the supplies they need, where they need them and when they need them. This will mean that relief and recovery is reached ‘faster, better, cheaper’ because supply chains have been transformed.
Localization is key
We see the future of humanitarian aid where new ideas and technologies are readily embraced, and the development and management of such aid occurs at a local level – so that people get the help they need faster and cheaper than they do today. At the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, an agreement known as “The Grand Bargin” was formed between the world’s aid agencies and donors committing all signatories to be more nimble, cost-effective, and better suited to the needs and aspirations of the people it aims to serve. While this is slow to take off, this is something Field Ready has been doing since its beginning more than five years ago.
Localization is one of the central tenets of the Grand Bargin. As we continue to scale, our effectiveness in adoption comes down to how we share our work and partner with others on the ground.
View our latest video vlog which brings to life our vision of the future of humanitarian aid – a leaner, more localized and efficient system.
Mutually-beneficial partnerships is essential
To achieve this vision of a more localized aid delivery system, we believe success rests on the robust development of mutually-beneficial partnerships.
Partnerships are very important to Field Ready. During recent years, we have grown to understand what effective partnerships look like in practice. We believe in five key overarching principles for effective partnerships with stakeholders: mutuality, shared responsibility, result oriented, complimentary and commitment, which enable us to work together to achieve our intended goals and organizational mission.
We have valuable implementing partners including NGOs, commercial companies and local governments. In order for this to work, there needs to be a shared vision and mutual understanding of program objectives. The HIF, which has supported us since soon after the establishment of Field Ready, has been one of our long-term partners. The accomplishments we’ve achieved with our partners has come from the adaptability and the wider understanding of the current humanitarian system.
Our technical paper outlines our partnerships scaling journey
As part of our Journey to Scale with Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund, we’ve developed an upcoming technical paper, where our partnership principles will be further outlined and, where we delve into the various types of partnerships we engage with (strategic, implementing, financing), potential partnership models, and how they align with our mission.
Embedding our work in local communities
Field Ready also values working with local partners to facilitate programs and training. This is critical if we want our programs to achieve true impact, because not only do the populations we work with understand their needs best but they are the ones who will continue this work once we are no longer responding to a disaster or program. It is important to us as an organization to not just listen to the needs of people on the ground but to have them actively engaged in the work we are doing.
As highlighted in our latest vlog, we’re building up the technical capabilities in the Pacific region, training local technicians to become experts in the latest artificial intelligence technologies. We are also mapping the local manufacturers capable of making the humanitarian aid items needed in the region. The idea is that if UNICEF needs to order 100,000 Oxfam buckets, for instance, Makernet will auto distribute the order to the various manufacturers in the region according to their capacity. This way, the big orders can be fulfilled quickly, without monopolizing one manufacturer.
Field Ready takes time to bridge the gap between technology and local NGOs through training and other ways to share knowledge. Our programs incorporate both education and training components and in many cases, we tangibly show people how to use a number of technologies. Sharing our approach and working with a number of NGOs looks different in each context. In South Sudan this involved repairing equipment for drilling wells, working with the local NGO to become equipped to continue after the rapid assessment.
Working in Vanuatu during a recent volcano response, our team taught volunteers how to make locally manufactured beds. In Colombia, this involved teaching a group of 400 students how to make water filters. Innovation is not merely the use of modern technology, it is also about being inclusive to a wide range of stakeholders. For example, in Jordan we are working with local partners to facilitate trainings to teach people living with disabilities how to make mobility aids using a range of equipment.
For our ideas to scale, we can’t just appeal to a small minority. Unless we are engaging with the most vulnerable of people, innovation will fail to be successful.
Watch our vlog to hear from our partners and their vision of the future of humanitarian aid.
Stay tuned – our next blog and vlog in the new year will detail how we adapt technology to different contexts depending on the needs of those communities, and how our journey to scale is helping us to do this.