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...

Sexual and gender-based violence is notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute, particularly in humanitarian emergencies where medical facilities and trained staff are lacking. Our solution is to explore innovative self-examination DNA kits to improve access to justice for victims.


Investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender based violence in low-resource environments.


Our innovation is a self-examination forensic DNA kit, which could transform humanitarian and legal responses to SGBV by:

  • applying a forensic approach that is good practice elsewhere, but novel to the humanitarian context
  • allowing access to DNA evidence to corroborate witness statements and support prosecutions
  • being sensitive to cultural norms and safety concerns that deter women from seeking invasive medical examinations
  • enhancing security for medical staff who risk reprisal for documenting SGBV.

These features increase the impact of our innovation by improving the well being and security of people in humanitarian crises.


The outcomes of this project will provide stakeholder and end-user views on the design and feasibility of our innovation. In particular, gathering the views of NGO and medical clinics as well as criminal justice agencies to inform the feasibility, design and legal requirements of our self-examination DNA kit, is essential to ensure the implementation and impact of the innovation.
This project will also enable us to explore how forensic DNA evidence can be used more effectively to support investigations and prosecutions of SGBV in humanitarian contexts, and how this enhances access to justice and empowers survivors.

Latest Updates

The value of stakeholder engagement and partnership in forensic innovation

26 May 2019

In this blog we summarise our Humanitarian Innovation Fund project aims, outcomes, and next steps.


Innovative DNA recovery techniques could help victims catch rapists in Kenya

4 Dec 2018

The HIF funded Univeristy of Leicester team discuss their innovation and its potential on the academic news site, The Conversation.


Project wins Time Higher Education Award

30 Nov 2018

The University of Leicester team wins ‘Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences’ at the 2018 Times Higher Education Awards.


Related Resources

Report Gender-based Violence

Final Report: Self-Examination DNA Swabs Supporting Investigations of Sexual Violence

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