Coalition – May 22nd, 2019
I have always been active in the humanitarian/development sector and have lived and worked in Nicaragua and Ecuador for many years. In 2018 I became CEO of CARE Nederland and I consider it a privilege to lead an organization that has a mandate for both humanitarian aid and sustainable development, with a special focus on the needs and opportunities of women and girls. If men and women can fulfill their roles more equally, this benefits the entire community. This approach has proven itself as an effective way to combat poverty.
CARE Nederland has been a Board member since the foundation of DCHI. We see both the opportunities and the need for humanitarian innovation and the importance for the two to come together. With our decades of experience in implementing projects in emergency and crisis situations we are aware that solutions must be found through new ideas and approaches to the problems that have originated. And that you have to engage with peer organizations (such as within the Dutch Relief Alliance) as well as partners from other sectors who face similar issues and can contribute with innovative solutions.
I think it’s important that CEO’s show a personal commitment to direct the changes that we are aiming for in the humanitarian sector. Furthermore, I am happy to contribute my personal practical experience. I find it enriching to work with fellow organizations from the sector and organizations that have a strong involvement with our sector.
Humanitarian innovation is needed because the scale and complexity of the problems is enormous and is expected to increase, while the funding is lagging behind. We need smart solutions that link the innovative capacity and brainpower of people from local practice to the innovation capacity and creativity of people and organisations here.
In Uganda a project was implemented involving menstrual cups for women and girls who had fled from South Sudan. These menstrual cups may not be new, but the embedding in a humanitarian setting, involving boys and men to enhance cultural acceptance, is innovative. The results of this program for the hygiene the sense of safety, and the possibilities for women and girls to participate in school and work, have made a big impression on me.
I expect that emergency aid will be driven much more by organizations in the south, where the disaster/crisis has taken place. This means that certain links in the relief effort chain will disappear and that there will be more direct contact between foreign donors and local implementing organizations. This implies a different role for humanitarian organizations from the north. They will have to facilitate and leverage knowledge and expertise and connect between stakeholders involved to allow continuous innovation.
I would like to see that we use even more local knowledge, experience and potential to identify needs and initiate innovations. And that we support this from the Netherlands by leveraging stakeholders that can contribute to solving local problems. Ideally, humanitarian innovation is a process that takes place both bottom up and top down, with parties knowing how to find each other somewhere in the middle.