The Dutch government, the business sector, aid organizations and research centers are joining forces for one common mission: the innovation of humanitarian aid. On Thursday, March 24th, Liliane Ploumen, minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, launched the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation (DCHI). The goal of the coalition is to start innovative collaborations to improve the effect of humanitarian aid and decrease costs. TTC Mobile, expert in innovative mobile technology, has been involved at an early stage after the idea sprang to the mind of the Dutch government and partners such as the Netherlands Red Cross, DSM and the Philips Foundation.
Need for innovation
How to reach more people in the most effective way? This is an important question when talking of innovation in humanitarian aid. The number of people that have been struck by a crisis has doubled to 125 million people in the last ten years and the costs have even tripled. Causes are climate issues, political conflict within countries, but also the difficulties of delivering humanitarian aid in urban regions. The humanitarian aid of today is insufficient and unsustainable, leading to many people that do not receive the aid that they need. Innovation is needed to find fitting answers to these changes and to improve the humanitarian aid that people in crises need.
The role of the business sector
Adding the business sector to this coalition is a breakthrough and has been a well thought out decision. Gijs de Vries, director of the Netherlands Red Cross, explains in an interview: “NGOs don’t have the money or the policies to innovate. The money that NGOs receive needs to be spent immediately, as we deal with urgent crises and because our donors want us to. We cannot invest money in research as we will be accused of not spending the money on the right matters. The business sector however is entirely dependent on innovation. In a coalition of NGOs and businesses we can combine our strengths and find innovative solutions for humanitarian aid.”
Humanitarian aid needs mobile technology
In the first phase the coalition will be focusing on communication and the use of big data. Mobile technology plays a crucial role here and this is why TTC Mobile has been taking part since the start. Currently, several ideas are being developed. Hajo van Beijma, co-founder of TTC Mobile, explains: “We are looking for a way to alleviate the current refugee crisis and we are thinking of something in the direction of a telecom operator. For this idea we set up a subgroup that we named Nomads Telecom and that involves the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TNO, the Netherlands Red Cross, the University of Leiden and Deloitte. Our goal is to improve the self-reliance of refugees and to gain better insights and data to determine the needs of refugees. Mobile technology would be the ideal solution for this.”
Van Beijma joined the launch on Thursday and co-presented the first ideas to minister Ploumen. She will present the plans of the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016. “The coalition is a great example of how we could also be cooperating on a global level to innovate humanitarian aid.” Ploumen says proudly.