The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) encourages organizations to submit proposals on innovative projects providing humanitarian assistance under its small grant facility. But the term ‘innovative’ can be vague and NGOs may require a better understanding of the term before applying for such funding.
HIF itself defines ‘innovations’ as “dynamic processes which focus on the creation and implementation of new or improved products and services, processes, positions and paradigms. Successful innovations are those that result in improvements in efficiency, effectiveness, quality or social outcomes/impacts.”
We can understand this theoretical definition by going through some of the projects previously funded by HIF.
HIF had recently had announced a challenge on the InnoCentive where it requested problem solvers to provide effective solutions for the disposal of human waste during times of natural disaster. Although digging of temporary latrines is an easy way of disposing human waste, certain land areas can be very soft under natural disaster conditions – so what can be done under such situations? It’s an innovative thought to even find out such a problem and present it. According to Nicolas Kröger, Manager, HIF, it purposefully selected this area for seeking solution under this challenge because it considered the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector as crucial for communities suffering from natural calamities.
Another innovative project funded by HIF is the Citizen-based DRR system implemented in the Indian Himalayan region where the community is empowered with disaster preparedness and the use of ICT and community-based early warning system and model relief system are integrated.
In Sri Lanka, HIF has funded a project where a new invention called VoiceICT4D has been used for community-based emergency alerting and reporting.
Another innovative project funded by HIF is for the development of a cheap, easy to transport wheelchair that could be used in emergencies such as earthquakes.
After reviewing these projects, it is important for NGOs in developing countries to understand and focus the need for innovation combined with the use of new technologies for winning the grant from HIF. HIF is always willing to support small organizations in developing countries; however, the lack of innovative proposals often leads to rejection of many NGO applications.