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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What is localisation?

Localisation is the process of recognising, respecting and strengthening the leadership of local and national actors (OECD, 2017), so they are better engaged in the planning, delivery and accountability of humanitarian response (ICVA-HLA, 2019) in order to address the needs of people affected by crises.

At the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, donors and aid organisations came together and signed a Grand Bargain outlining a set of commitments to make the humanitarian sector more effective and relevant for those most affected by crises. This Bargain included a commitment to provide “more support and funding for local and national responders”.

We recognise the central role of local and national actors in improving the relevance, effectiveness and immediacy of humanitarian response. We also believe the involvement of these organisations in humanitarian research and innovation is essential to inform ‘what works’.

(Banner photo: a farmer in Giritirto adds sawdust into the organic fertilizer mix as part of HIF-funded local innovation project ‘Climate Adaptive Farming in Drought Prone Areas’)

For our Humanitarian Innovation Fund, this means a dedicated focus on ‘local innovation’, working with local and national organisations to develop innovative solutions to locally defined problems and building sustainable systems of support for innovation at national and regional levels.

Members of the Maps&Cards for disaster risk reduction team (based in the Philippines). Credit: Eric S. Sister/Philippine Geographical Society.

Why do we focus on local innovation?

We believe innovations can be stronger and more effective if they are developed with the input of those most affected by the problems they aim to solve.

Working with local and national organisations allows for the meaningful engagement of people affected by crisis to improve the quality, uptake and ultimate impact of humanitarian innovation. Such engagement lies at the heart of our strategy and is one of our Guiding Principles.

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 located in the ‘Global North’. To address this imbalance, and further ‘localise’ our funding and support, we formed a strategic partnership with the Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN), a network made up of 52 national and international NGOs from more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

Working closely with their Tokyo Innovation Hub (ATIH), we have supported organisations based in multiple countries to access funding for locally developed innovations, with the aim of making their communities more resilient to humanitarian crises.

What we do

  1. We partner with Country Focal Point organisations who identify the priority problems for their context. We support innovators to dig deeper into root causes, explore current solutions and formulate innovative new approaches.
  2. We work with Country Focal Point organisations to facilitate innovation management workshops and provide mentoring to the local innovation teams. We provide funding to the innovation teams, in the form of initial seed funding and longer-term follow-on funding.
  3. We share lessons learned to inform good practice on local innovation within the Asia Pacific region and wider humanitarian sector.
  4. Together we champion the value and importance of a more localised approach to humanitarian innovation.

Our current local innovation work

Our approach to local innovation is organised on multiple levels: regional, national, local and global.

The Asia Pacific region is the most disaster-prone in the world. Through our strategic partnership with ADRRN, we are working together to develop a sustainable resource base on humanitarian innovation management in this region.

At a national level – We’re working with selected ADRRN member Country Focal Point organisations to create a supporting environment for local innovation.

Over several years, together we have developed a model that works with Country Focal Point organisations to select up to eight groups from local and national organisations that have identified key problems for their country.

So far we’ve worked with the Center for Disaster Preparedness in the Philippines on Earthquake Resilience in the light of the magnitude 7.2 ‘Big One’ earthquake, anticipated to strike in the West Valley Fault. We’ve also worked with SEEDS India on flooding and water scarcity in urban and peri-urban areas in India.

At a local level – We’re focusing on strengthening local humanitarian innovation skills and capabilities of each innovation group.

Finally, drawing from all of the experiences at different levels, we’re sharing the learning and seek to inform practice at the global level, so that collectively we can champion a more localised approach to humanitarian innovation.

Takeshi Komino, Secretary General


Despite Asia being the most disaster affected region in the world, ADRRN upholds its vision towards 2030 as transforming the region to be the most disaster resilient region in the world. The resource to do this, however, is not increasing in the sector to the level of needs on the ground, and ADRRN has always felt the need to ‘innovate’ to produce more impact on the resilience of communities in Asia. That aspiration led to creation of ADRRN’s Tokyo Innovation Hub, and the collaboration to synergize innovation management science and community based resilience initiatives have started in 2016.

Related Tools & Research


Blog: The role of community-led innovation in decolonising aid

Report Partnerships

Partnerships Review: Humanitarian Innovation Fund

Article Innovation Management, Partnerships

Exploring a strategic partnership to support local innovation

Video Disaster Risk Reduction

What does innovation mean to you?

Video Disaster Risk Reduction

What does localisation mean to you?

Video Disaster Risk Reduction

How should international organisations better support localisation?

Video Disaster Risk Reduction

What role do local, national and regional organisations play in localisation?

Projects funded under this partnership

Our partners

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