Innovative technology and tools the key to revolutionizing humanitarian responses

News Hour:

A coordinated approach is urgently needed when it comes to technologies, tools and models in humanitarian innovation, says World Vision International President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Jenkins.

Speaking at a Special Session at the World Humanitarian Summit, Mr Jenkins welcomed the establishment of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation (GAHI).

The Alliance, which brings together people and organisations with differing expertise, aims to implement innovative tools and practices around humanitarian preparedness and response.

“What do we expect from a good humanitarian innovation? It must help us reach the people who most need us, while improving lives and strengthening communities,” Mr Jenkins said.

“It must equip us to personalise our services and make us more accountable to affected communities and the donors who support us. Humanitarian innovation must increase our coordination with partners and it must allow us to document the work, deriving lessons we can all put into practice.

“The launch of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation is therefore welcome.”

Mr Jenkins said there was “a lot of talk about innovative technologies, tools and models”.

“The Alliance will help us develop standards and principles and will provide the hub we need to disseminate evidence and best practices.”

The special session discussed World Vision’s innovation programmes – which are one of the most robust of any international non-governmental organisation. The session asked those present what they hoped to see as a result of World Vision’s efforts and how its work can be complemented with that of the GAHI.

“The desire to do the best we can for vulnerable children drives World Vision. When everything in their lives goes wrong, we must do all we can to put things right, for them and their communities,” Mr Jenkins said.

“More than ever, we are responding to relief emergencies, long-lasting conflict and political crisis. Yet resources for emergency response are insufficient to address the number of global crises and the complexity and risk of working in them.

“This means that it’s more important than ever to find new ways of working, for World Vision and for our humanitarian peers.

“We are committed to deploying new and creative tools, improving the way we operate and seeking strategic collaborations which would have been hard to conceive a decade ago.”

Mr Jenkins stated that World Vision made a deliberate decision to pioneer new humanitarian responses.

“Developing our flagship Last Mile Mobile Solutions platform for aid distributions was important – but spreading its use globally, with partners, was a breakthrough,” he said.

“To propagate the best learnings in the use of money in emergencies, we established an iCash, or ‘innovations for Cash’, hub in the Philippines.

“Recently, I signed an agreement with MasterCard to drive our cash-based responses still further, giving aid recipients’ new dignity and control, and us more transparency.”

Mr Jenkins stated that in a time of fewer resources, greater problems and a changing landscape, there were also new opportunities.

“I’m proud that World Vision is a founding member and I’m happy that we are a partner in one of its first initiatives, an inter-agency innovation unit we can deploy in emergencies, called the Crisis Response Innovation Lab.

“We must do better for the people who are at the heart of every emergency – the children, families and communities who are the real reason we are here. Let’s be nimble and creative about it.”

The World Humanitarian Summit is being held in Istanbul from May 23rd to May 24th.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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