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We are Elrha, a force for change in the humanitarian community. The research and innovation we support equips the humanitarian community with the knowledge of what works, so people affected by crises get the right help when they need it most.
Our purpose is clear: to empower the humanitarian community to improve humanitarian response. We make this happen by supporting and championing the outcomes of robust research and proven innovations.
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Generating evidence is challenging in humanitarian settings.

Time pressures often mean that immediate response is prioritised over research, and contextual factors – such as rapidly changing and unstable environments, dynamic flows of people, and lack of access due to security concerns – add to the list of risks researchers must manage.

Even with these barriers evidence is still key to driving the sustainable and ethical uptake of innovation. This is especially the case in the humanitarian sector, where new tools, approaches or services can have a direct impact on the health, dignity and well-being of populations affected by crisis.

These are just some of the reasons why we launched our WASH Evidence Challenge. The challenge was designed to support robust research studies that generate practical, comparative evidence around WASH innovations that had been supported through our Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) programme.

Meet the teams who were selected to build further evidence around their innovations to help them to adapt, scale and play a part in addressing some of the most pressing challenges in humanitarian WASH:

Testing water. Credit: MSF

Safe Water Optimization Tool

Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, York University. With partners  MSF and Tufts

The Safe Water for Refugees project developed new evidence-based chlorination guidance. Based on this they then developed the Safe Water Optimization Tool (SWOT): a new online platform that generates site-specific, evidence-based chlorination guidance.

With the WASH evidence grant the team are seeking to build evidence to scale the SWOT.

A woman drawing water from the water filter into a storage container. Credit: FHNW

Finding the appropriate household water filter for emergencies

FHNW – University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. With partners Oxfam Iraq, Cesvi Palestine, FairCap, and Basic Water Needs

This study will generate solid field evidence on the performance and acceptance of four water filters, enabling last-step optimization and scale-up. The results will be used to validate the simplified user-friendly practical tool for field evaluation and selection of water filters in emergencies.

Surprise soap products. Credit: Save the Children UK

Surprise Soaps

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. With partners Care International, Action Against Hunger, and Save the Children UK

Surprise Soaps are novel soaps with toys embedded inside which aims to increase hand washing with soap among children in humanitarian settings. These soaps will be tested in new humanitarian settings to establish if this innovation can still work in different, more challenging environments and if children’s interest and the intervention’s effect is sustained beyond four weeks.

Waterscope testing kit. Credit: Waterscope

Waterscope: A Rapid, easy-to-use test for bacterial contamination in drinking water

WaterScope. With partners The Aquaya Institute, Oxfam, and Tearfund

Drinking water contaminated with bacteria is a global problem. WaterScope has a rapid, easy-to-use system to test bacterial contamination in drinking water. The project will utilise a published Target Product Profile, published by UNICEF, to benchmark WaterScope’s system for commercialisation.

Related Resources

Tool COVID-19, Water, sanitation & hygiene

WASH Innovation Catalogue

Report Innovation Management, Scale

Too Tough to Scale? Challenges to scaling innovation in the humanitarian sector

Banner photo: Demonstrating water filter as part of FHNW project on finding the appropriate household water filter for emergencies.

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