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The humanitarian innovation agenda has been broadly top-down to date, focused on improving the tools and practices of international humanitarian actors. Yet this top-down focus too often overlooks the talents, skills and aspirations of people affected by crises.

Our experience at Elrha shows that addressing the right problem is key to successful innovation; engagement with people affected by crises is essential for fully understanding problems and the solutions required.

HIF Innovation Manager Ian McClelland and Effective Partnerships Manager Frances Hill explore how strategic partnerships can support local innovation in an article published in the ‘Communication and community engagement in humanitarian response’ issue of the Humanitarian Exchange Magazine.

Photo Credit: NASSA/Caritas Philippines

Meet the authors

Ian McClelland

HIF Senior Innovation Manager

Ian McClelland


Ian is an innovation management and strategic communications specialist, with over 10 years’ experience in the international development and humanitarian sectors. He is passionate about harnessing the right tools and methods at the right time in support of humanitarian practitioners and social entrepreneurs looking to solve complex challenges.

Ian leads our work on scale as well as the Humanitarian Innovation Guide, and has been instrumental in our drive to place meaningful engagement with affected communities at the centre of humanitarian innovation through our partnership with the Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network.

In previous roles, Ian has led and worked on brand projects, digital campaigns and content strategy and development at Bond, Save the Children, Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre and Oxfam. He holds an MSc in Globalisation and Development from the University of Manchester and a BSc in Disaster Management and Technology from the University of Birmingham.

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