Strengthening humanitarian innovation: new partnerships in the Asia-Pacific

Published on 18/07/2017

The Asia-Pacific region is home to 40% of natural disasters and 84% of people affected by natural disasters worldwide. With growing challenges posed by the intensity and scale of disasters in the region, and recognition that local people are almost always the first to respond and remain on the ground after international teams have left, the humanitarian community must look for new and innovative ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness, and support local actors.


Earlier this year the HIF signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Asia Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN) based on a mutual ambition to improve access to innovation resources and support novel ideas, and strengthen partnerships between local organisations in the region. And in May/June we held a joint workshop in Jakarta for teams from across the Asia-Pacific to come together and develop new projects.

Eight project teams were selected to attend – from more than 50 applications – all with the potential to make a real impact in their communities and across the region. Over three days we worked with the teams to strengthen their partnerships, assess the risks they face, map the resources they’d need, articulate their ideas, and start to develop their full funding proposals. On the last day, each team delivered a project pitch to an expert panel from UNHCR, OCHA, UN Global Pulse and the World Innovation Lab.

After three days of hard work and lively discussion, there was time to reflect on the experience and what we’d learned. The feedback we received recognised the importance of simply being able to bring together “diverse people and wisdom” from different backgrounds and enable them to share their ideas and to learn from each other. All the projects came away energised and satisfied that they had made significant strides forward. A self-assessment of the projects’ progress through the workshop showed that the sessions on identifying challenges and risks, and mapping resources proved particularly valuable.


For the HIF, it was a great opportunity to build relationships and explore a more inclusive approach to funding and supporting innovation. Our strategic partnership with ADRRN represents a new model of working with a regional network to increase our geographic and institutional reach – and over the next 12 months we’ll be exploring more ways to work together.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be inviting all those who took part in the Jakarta workshop to apply for seed funding. The funded projects will receive £10,000 over four months to further develop their plans. And we’ll be at the ADRRN Regional Innovation Forum in December to report on their progress.

Find out more about our capacity building work.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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