Doing innovation well presents challenges for how we can work better together as organisations and with displaced people, and how we can break down traditional barriers between actors – all while upholding ethical principles and protection standards relating to displacement.
The purpose of innovation is to make humanitarian work more effective and more reflective. We do innovation to improve human lives by doing things better. Innovation, for UNHCR, is a humanitarian imperative to be carried out with partners.
A collaboration between UNHCR, Ennead Architects and Stanford University uses settlement design to promote innovation and further development in the refugee protection model but collaborators initially face a steep learning curve.
Since 2007 a partnership between UNHCR, the Government of Uganda and ‘MakaPads’ inventor Moses Musaazi has helped provide affordable sanitary pads for thousands of refugee girls and women while substantially reducing UNHCR’s expenditure on these essential items.
‘UNHCR Ideas’ aims to enable collaborative problem solving and idea generation among an online community.
Conversations with multiple stakeholders in the US help to highlight barriers to economic self-sufficiency for resettled refugees and opportunities for innovative approaches.
In order to make a living, refugees have to be innovative, and refugees in Uganda have contributed tremendously to entrepreneurship and innovation in the country.
It is difficult to speak convincingly of ‘new’ or innovative practices towards refugees, especially in refugee livelihoods assistance, while there remains a significant gap in historical knowledge and institutional memory.
Innovative approaches in Lebanon aim to address, in two very different ways, the particular needs of the most vulnerable among the refugee and host populations.
Humanitarian actors will have to adapt to a changing world but it will not be easy or straightforward. Operations are changing as a result of innovations which bring many improvements but also throw up challenges.
The continued evolution of the humanitarian innovation concept needs a critical engagement with how this agenda interacts with previous and contemporary attempts to improve humanitarian action.