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.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...
OverviewOverviewUpdatesOur Focus Areas & What we FundTools & ResearchFunding Opportunities

Aim: to improve outcomes for people affected by humanitarian crises by identifying, nurturing and sharing more effective and scalable solutions.

The HIF is a globally-recognised programme leading on the development and testing of innovation in the humanitarian system. Established in 2011, it was the first of its kind: an independent, grant-making programme open to the entire humanitarian community. It now leads the way in funding, supporting, and managing innovation at every stage of the innovation process.

The HIF’s portfolio of funded projects has informed a more detailed understanding of what successful innovation looks like, and what it can achieve for the humanitarian community. This work is leading the global conversation on innovation in humanitarian response.


The HIF Evaluation report is an evaluation of the performance of Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund from January 2019 to ​​​​​September 2022.

The seven evaluation questions were: 

  1. How do activities implemented within ​​​​​Elrha’s strategy contribute to the outcomes identified?
  2. What impact and outcomes is the HIF generating?
  3. What is the value for money generated by the HIF?
  4. How effective is the HIF at learning and adapting?
  5. How does the HIF support its partners and grantees to learn and adapt?
  6. How does the HIF navigate risk?
  7. What is the HIF’s contribution to the sector?

HIF Evaluation 2019-2022 Management Response

In 2019, Elrha commissioned an independent evaluation of its HIF programme. The evaluation, led by The Research People, covered the period 2019-2022 and reviewed HIF’s ‘core’ work (Scale, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Disability and Older Age Inclusion (DOAI), Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Building Skills and Capabilities). The HIF evaluation was overseen by an independent Steering Committee consisting of 6 members 1 and chaired by Nancy McPherson, Director of Evaluation at the Rockefeller Foundation. We are grateful for the Steering Committee members’ time and guidance throughout the evaluation process, and for the valuable feedback and programme steer from HIF’s Advisory Group, and the wide range of stakeholders who informed the evaluation.

Read our evaluation response


Our 2018-2020 programme strategy was informed by an independent evaluation of the HIF’s performance and a review of the humanitarian innovation landscape. This was a ‘responsible ambition’, one that was creative and dynamic whilst also focused on accountability and sensitivity to the humanitarian ecosystem of which we are a part. We aimed to work collaboratively with partners and stakeholders to collectively drive forward innovation for a more effective humanitarian response.


Our 2017 evaluation, conducted by Triple Line between December 2016 and June 2017, covers the period from the launch of the HIF in early 2011 to December 2016. Its purpose is to provide accountability to our stakeholders through an independent assessment of the HIF’s performance; to support learning about the effectiveness of our own processes and to contribute to our strategic development. We welcomed this opportunity for a formal review as we fully believe in the importance of robust evaluation for improving how we work and helping us maximise our value to the humanitarian sector. Our 2017 evaluation response shared our learning and set out our actions.

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund External Evaluation, Triple Line

View the Evaluation in Full here.

this Evaluation also carried out three case studies:

  1. World Food Programme’s mVAM: Mobile Voice Technology for Food Security Data
  2. IFRC’s Improving Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies
  3. Translators Without Borders’ Words of Relief

Our Donors

Explore the HIF

Meet the Team


Latest news


New innovation funding for more inclusive humanitarian response


New WASH report centres needs of people affected by crises


Thank you to our HIF Funding Committee


FUNDING OPEN: help us build evidence around WASH innovations


Hear our Voices of WASH


NEW videos: next steps on the Journey to Scale


Eight innovation grants awarded to support wider adoption of projects


We’re changing the way we fund innovation to tackle humanitarian problems in more depth


Five new innovation projects taking a local perspective on measuring the impact of GBV programmes


Introducing our new Humanitarian Innovation Guide (by an innovation sceptic)


Innovation Insights Webinar Series

The HIF’s current thematic focuses are:

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)

Since starting our work on innovation in WASH within humanitarian settings in 2013, we have supported more than 50 innovation or research projects in this area and continue to support many more...

Gender-based Violence (GBV)

Gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian settings is a life-threatening issue. It undermines dignity, causes pain, and is a threat to equality and development around the globe. We are exploring potential solutions to address humanitarian GBV through both our research and innovation programmes...

Journey to Scale

We set out to address the sector wide question of how to scale humanitarian innovation. In many cases, the complexities involved in scaling innovation beyond prototyping and piloting has stagnated projects meaning valuable, innovative ideas do not get the chance to develop, progress or achieve their potential...

Disability and Older Age Inclusion

All people affected by crisis deserve to be included in humanitarian response activities. Yet we know that some people are systematically excluded. Our newest area of work explores the barriers to and support opportunities for the inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian response....

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. To ‘localise’ our funding and support, we formed a strategic partnership with the Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN)...

Explore our innovation portfolio

Explore over 150 HIF-funded innovations…

Discover more about the projects we fund

Key Tools, Guidance & Research published by HIF

Tool Accountability & Participation

Participation for Humanitarian Innovation

Tool Gender-based Violence, Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People, Water, sanitation & hygiene

Disability and older age inclusion in humanitarian action: Innovation Catalogue

Report Partnerships

The meanings of humanitarian innovation

Report Water, sanitation & hygiene

Gaps in WASH in Humanitarian Response: 2021 Update

Tool Innovation Management

Ethics for Humanitarian Innovation

Report Scale

How to scale: tactics to adopt humanitarian innovations

Report Sexual and Reproductive Health

Innovation for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Crises

Report Capacity Development, Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People

Review of Training for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People in the Humanitarian Sector

Report Partnerships

Partnerships Review: Humanitarian Innovation Fund

Report Gender-based Violence, Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People

Rapid review of disability and older age inclusion in GBV

Report COVID-19, Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People, Water, sanitation & hygiene

Rapid review of disability and older age inclusion in WASH

Tool Innovation Management

Humanitarian Innovation Guide

Report Innovation Management, Scale

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

Tools & Research from HIF funded projects

Report Water, sanitation & hygiene

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Humanitarian Crises: Setting the research agenda up to 2030

Peer Reviewed

Enveloped and non-enveloped virus survival on microfiber towels

Article Water, sanitation & hygiene

Effect of a Novel Hygiene Intervention on Older Children’s handwashing in a humanitarian setting in Kahda district, Somalia: A cluster-randomised controlled equivalence trial


GENDERED MIGRATION EXPERIENCES – Reflections and Recommendations


Evaluating the effectiveness of a mobile application to improve the quality, collection, and usability of forensic documentation of sexual violence


Menstrual Health Experiences of People with Intellectual Disabilities and Their Caregivers during Vanuatu’s Humanitarian Responses: A Qualitative Study


Investing in Inclusive WASH

Report Sexual and Reproductive Health

Innovation for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Crises

Report Scale

Development and validation of a data quality index for forensic documentation of sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya


We are Part of the Solution

Peer Reviewed Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

Guided self-help to reduce psychological distress in South Sudanese female refugees in Uganda: a cluster randomised trial


Innovation in Menstrual Hygiene Management – Overcoming Social Stigma and Creating Zero-waste Period Products


Breaking the Silence

Report Gender-based Violence, Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People



SH+ 360

Report Water, sanitation & hygiene

A less muddy glee? Perspectives from a disabled researcher in the era of virtual global south fieldwork



Guidance, Report Disaster Risk Reduction, Emergency Education, Scale, User-Centred Design

DMS Himalaya: Hazard Profiles in the Western and Eastern Himalayas


Inclusive Community Preparedness for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Nepal


Menstrual Hygiene Management Friendly and Accessible WASH Facilities for Emergencies


The inclusion of disability within efforts to address menstrual health during humanitarian emergencies: A systematized review

Guidance Disaster Risk Reduction, Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older People

Identifying relevant factors for disability and age inclusive disaster preparedness

Report Innovation Opportunities, Water, sanitation & hygiene

Innovation Opportunities in Solid Waste Disposal in Humanitarian Settings


Local Entrepreneurship Model Concept Note



Tool Accountability & Participation

Hotline in a Box Toolkit

Tool Health Systems & Services, Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition, Refugees and IDPs

Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Rapid Assessment Toolkit for Refugee Contexts

Briefing Note Gender-based Violence, Refugees and IDPs

Unite for a Better Life: Lessons on Programme Adaption for a Humanitarian Context

Tool Gender-based Violence

Gender-Based Violence Case Management Outcome Monitoring Toolkit

Report Accountability & Participation, Information Management, Communication & Technology

Responsive Listening through Improved Feedback Mechanisms: End-of-project evaluation

Tool Water, sanitation & hygiene

Guide and practical tools addressing Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) needs

Article Water, sanitation & hygiene

Supertowel as an alternative hand cleaning product for emergencies

Current Funding Opportunities

Previous Funding Opportunities

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