Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

HIF Support Glossary
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...


Last updated 05/05/2021
Adaptation involves matching a solution to the problem and context, identifying the changes that are required, and implementing and testing those changes.
Adoption (or uptake):
Implementation of an innovation by a second organisation in a new location.
The extent to which an activity achieves its purpose, or whether this can be expected to happen on the basis of the outputs.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV):
An umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and that is based on socially ascribed (ie, gender) differences between males and females. It includes acts that inflict physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion, and other deprivations of liberty. These acts can occur in public or in private. The term “GBV” is most commonly used to underscore how systemic inequality between males and females, which exists in every society in the world, acts as a unifying and foundational characteristic of most forms of violence perpetrated against women and girls (GBV AOR).
Humanitarian setting:
Humanitarian settings include: Conflict-affected locations (eg, Yemen, Central African Republic, Mali); Natural hazard-driven disasters; Complex emergencies (eg, eastern DRC, northeast Nigeria); Refugee or internally displaced person (IDP) camps/settlements including in protracted crises; Refugees and IDPs in urban settings.  We exclude: Countries that are not included in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of official development assistance (ODA) (eg, Greece, including refugee camps); General populations in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs), including those that have been affected by COVID-19 unless also qualifying as a humanitarian crisis setting as above; Other vulnerable population groups such as migrants, people living in informal settlements, or rural communities that are not otherwise affected by a humanitarian crisis. 
Hypothesis (or learning objective) :
A hypothesis is a statement to be tested, which helps the project team to better understand the assumptions made about an innovation. Innovations are almost always based on assumptions as there is an inherent level of uncertainty associated with trying something novel or different to achieve better results. Knowing this, hypotheses should be set in order to test the assumptions for an innovation and generate evidence on how and whether it achieves the desired result. A set of hypotheses to be tested in a given period may also be referred to as “learning objectives”. 
A rights-based approach to community programming, aiming to ensure persons with disabilities have equal access to basic services and a voice in the development and implementation of those services. At the same time, it requires that mainstream organisations make dedicated efforts to address and remove barriers. (IFRC)
An intervention is considered innovative, and therefore an innovation, if it is a new intervention that improves on current practice, or an intervention that introduces new elements that offer an improvement on an existing intervention. 
The interaction of multiple factors, such as disability, age and gender, which can create multiple layers of discrimination, and, depending on the context, entail greater legal, social or cultural barriers. These can further hinder a person’s access to and participation in humanitarian action, and more generally, in society. (ADCAP)
The process of generating ideas and developing prototypes for early-stage testing. To invent is to create something that has not existed before; for an invention to become an innovation, it must be used and adopted by its target audience.
Meaningful participation:
A situation in which people are able to participate fully and effectively in decision-making and in the processes for designing, developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating humanitarian programmes, policies and interventions, as relevant. It should result in participation being an individual choice not limited by barriers including cultural, identity, attitudinal, physical, communication or legal/policy barriers. 
Multi-sectoral response:
A holistic and coordinated approach aimed at harmonising and correlating programmes and actions developed and implemented by a variety of institutions.  
National or local non-government organisation:
A non-government organisation that is rooted, founded, and headquartered in a lower- or middle-income country, carrying out operations at the national, sub-national or community level and not affiliated to any international NGO.  
Older people:
In many countries and cultures, being considered old is not necessarily a matter of age, but is linked to circumstances, such as being a grandparent or showing physical signs of ageing, such as white hair. While many sources use the age of 60 and above as a definition of old age, 50 years and over may be more appropriate in many of the contexts where humanitarian crises occur. (ADCAP)
Operational humanitarian organisation (or partner):
An organisation that is working in humanitarian settings, providing services and support directly to people affected by crisis. This may be contrasted with an intermediary humanitarian organisation that primarily provides humanitarian-to-humanitarian services or works through an operational humanitarian partner to provide services and support to people affected by crisis.
People with disabilities:
Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. (UN CPRD)
Testing a potential solution to learn whether and how it works in a complex real-world environment.
Problem recognition:
Identifying a problem or opportunity to respond to, collecting and assessing readily available knowledge on the issue and context, diagnosing root causes and properly framing the challenge.
Building on demonstrated successes to increase impact, ensuring that solutions reach their maximum potential and lead to widespread change. Among other things, scaling may involve developing a fully realised and sustainable solution, replicating and adapting that solution in new settings, developing new partnerships to facilitate this growth and/or advocating for uptake by other actors.  
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH):
A collective term for programmes that focus on: (1) ensuring access to safe water; (2) ensuring access and use of basic toilets and ways to separate human waste from contact with people; (3) nurturing good hygiene practices, especially handwashing with soap. While each is a separate field of work, they each depend on the presence of the other. 

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