Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation..
Our purpose is clear: we work in partnership with a global community of humanitarian actors, researchers and innovators to improve the quality of humanitarian action and deliver better outcomes for people affected by crises.
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Preparedness measures are shown time and again to be more cost effective and to save more lives than reactive response measures (Idris, 2019). Civil protection, humanitarian and preparedness actors and governments, also have a responsibility to ensure that disaster risk reduction and preparedness programmes are inclusive of persons with disabilities and older people (Sendai Framework).

To improve their ability to do this a better understanding of the link between inclusive preparedness and response is needed.

The Problem

People with disabilities and older people are frequently excluded from humanitarian preparedness activities even though they are among the most at risk, vulnerable and marginalised during and after humanitarian crises. Evidence has shown that only 15% of people with disabilities in communities affected by crises had participated in disaster management activities, and that 72% of people with disabilities did not have a personal preparedness plan in the event of a disaster (Pacific Disability Forum, 2013). Though there are limited examples of good practice, the rights, knowledge and agency of people with disabilities and older people are too often overlooked during preparedness activities.

Our Gap Analysis also found that there is little quality evidence available on how inclusive disaster preparedness enables inclusive response (HIF, 2020). While there is some evidence available on the effectiveness of preparedness more broadly, the metrics used don’t often reflect the perspectives of people with disabilities and older people.

A better understanding of the link between inclusive preparedness and response will be valuable for the humanitarian sector as it will ultimately highlight where additional efforts – and innovation – are most needed. This might include supporting improved inclusive preparedness that enables inclusive response, generating more evidence on existing approaches and gaps, or driving increased uptake of good practice.

The Challenge

We are looking to support the humanitarian community to explore how inclusive preparedness can enable inclusive humanitarian response, from the perspectives and experiences of people with disabilities, older people and representative organisations.

Get the full details in the Challenge Handbook

For further information about the Challenge, assessment criteria, expected deliverables and application timelines, as well as a glossary of key terms, please read the Challenge Handbook.

Read the Challenge Handbook

Challenge Handbook in accessible formats

The Challenge Handbook above is an accessible PDF, but it is also available in EPUB format.

If you require any Challenge materials in an alternative format please contact us.


How do I apply?

To apply for the Challenge, fill out the Expression of Interest (EOI) via our Common Grant Application platform.

Already have an account? Login to start an application.

Don’t have an account? Sign up to open an account and start an application.

If you require any Challenge materials in an alternative format please contact us.

What do we mean by preparedness?

Preparedness can be understood as “the knowledge and capacities developed by governments, response and recovery organisations, communities and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to and recover from the impacts of likely, imminent or current disasters.” (UNDRR, 2020)

What humanitarian settings are eligible?

All projects must focus on preparedness activities in one or more specific humanitarian settings to be eligible for this Innovation Challenge. We are open to projects in all humanitarian settings and phases of response. We are particularly interested in contexts with cyclical crises (eg, drought- and flood-prone areas, areas affected by cyclones, cyclical conflict) where preparedness plays a key role. Preparedness and response will be directly shaped by the local geography, type of humanitarian crisis, and important contextual factors such as social norms, religion, demographics and political situation.

What is the total funding for the Challenge?

We have a total budget of 300,000 GBP available for this Challenge.

From this, we envisage funding a selection of projects with varying budgets, generally between 50,000 and 75,000 GBP. Please consider the range provided as suggestive and align proposed budgets and timelines with your project’s ambition.

Each project is expected to last between 12 and 20 months. All project-related activities must complete by 30 September 2022. The total duration of projects should cover all proposed activities and deliverables, as well as preparing and sharing project outcomes and learnings.

For details about the funding for this Challenge, see Funding section in Challenge Handbook.

What is the rate that overheads can be included at?

Overheads may be included up to 10% of the direct costs listed in the budget. They should not exceed this amount, nor be calculated as a percentage of both the direct and indirect costs combined.

For more information, please see the Eligible Costs Guidance document on our Application Guidance page.

What are the timelines?

The Challenge launches on 8 July 2020. The deadline for EOIs is 7 August 2020 (23:59 BST). Apply via the Common Grant Application platform.

For further information about the application process and timelines, see Challenge Handbook.

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from any legally registered entity (eg, civil society organisation – including representative organisations, international non-governmental organisation, national non-governmental organisation, academic/research institution, government, private company, Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, United Nations agency or programme). Applications must consist of a partnership with at least one operational humanitarian organisation and at least one Organisation for Persons with Disabilities (OPD) or Older People’s Association (OPA) working in the place of implementation (either can be the lead applicant).

Applicants are not expected to have confirmed partnerships in place for the EOI stage, but will be expected to provide evidence to demonstrate partnerships by the Full Proposal stage – such as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or similar.

Our portfolio of funded innovations reflects the wider bias in the humanitarian sector where funding is mainly allocated to larger, international organisations, likely to be based in places not usually affected by emergencies. To address this imbalance, we are working to better localise our funding and support, and to increase the number of grants we award to organisations with headquarters in regions affected by crisis. With this in mind, we strongly encourage organisations based in regions affected by crisis to apply and to reach out to us with any questions.

I’d like to submit proposals to more than one Challenge, is that accepted?

Applicants are welcome to submit proposals to any of the open Innovation Challenges.

One organisation can apply for more than one Challenge. One organisation may also submit multiple applications to the same Challenge.

However, please note that you may only have one application in progress in the Common Grant Application system at a time. You can either:

  • Prepare your applications offline using the ‘Key offline questions’ word document. Then for each application you can paste your answers into CGA and submit one application at a time.
  • Create a new log in for each application.

For help using CGA please watch this video.

Can proposed problem recognition projects be implemented as part of Covid-19 response activities?

One of our core criteria is for your project to be implemented in a humanitarian setting (see glossary in the Handbook for more detail). We recognise that in existing humanitarian settings there may now be new or amended humanitarian programming to prevent and respond to Covid-19. Projects implemented as part of Covid-19 response activities in an existing humanitarian setting will be eligible. Implementation as part of Covid-19 response activities outside of an existing humanitarian setting, ie in the general population of a country, is not eligible.

How will the funding call take into account potential difficulties arising from COVID-19?

We know that the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted ‘business as usual’ operations in many humanitarian settings, and for many humanitarian organisations and responders. We’re confident that the problems set out in this Innovation Challenge are still relevant, solutions are still needed and that progress towards developing them can still be made. We encourage you to share any specific considerations or potential adaptations to your approach in response to the current global context in your application.

Are you able to facilitate collaborations?

Where possible, we will support applicants search for partners, but we are not able to commit to securing partners for applicants. If you have a particular type of partner in mind, get in touch with us and we will see how we can help.

Still have questions?

We’re here to help. For any questions that are not covered by the Challenge Handbook or this FAQ section, please email us at, referencing ‘Inclusive Preparedness Challenge’ in the subject line.

Video: Everything you need to know 

Want to know more? In this short explainer video we’ll share:

  • An overview of the Challenge
  • What we’re looking for
  • Key criteria and how to apply
Play video

Banner photo: A group participation session on community mapping, taken as part of the R2HC-funded project: ‘Adaptation and evaluation of a disaster mental health intervention for earthquake survivors in Kathmandu valley‘, Natural Hazards Center, Colorado University.

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