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An Interview with the CEO of The Netherlands Red Cross: Marieke van Schaik & Board Member of DCHI

An Interview with the CEO of The Netherlands Red Cross: Marieke van Schaik & Board Member of DCHI

Coalition – May 22nd, 2019

 

 “I would like to see less need for humanitarian assistance in ten years”

 

Tell us something about yourself and how you got into your role.

My name is Marieke van Schaik, I’m 48 years old and I am CEO of the Netherlands Red Cross since September last year. I am married, have 3 sons and have lived in Amsterdam ever since I studied International Relations there. In my previous role as managing director at the Dutch Charity Lotteries I worked with the Red Cross and it struck me that so many volunteers worldwide work selflessly for a better world. I am proud to be a part of such an amazing organisation.

Why is your organisation on the board of DCHI?

The Netherlands Red Cross is one of the founding partners of DCHI because we truly believe in humanitarian innovation. Over the past few years there have been many new technological developments. We already work a lot with data as a driver for decision making but we cannot do it alone. It is essential that we work together within the humanitarian sector, learn from each other and bring things to the next level.

In your opinion, why is humanitarian innovation necessary?

We see lots of innovation in the private sector but the humanitarian sector is falling behind because we don’t have the means to invest as much. We know that innovation can actually help save money and, more importantly, help more people more effectively. Therefore it is so important to collaborate with other humanitarian organisations but also with partners outside our sector. For example, by seeking alliances with private sector partners. Our data team (510) is a good example of working with partners from ‘outside’ the humanitarian sector and we see this happen elsewhere in the world as well.

Are there any recent developments or innovations within the humanitarian sector that you think are particularly note-worthy?

During the measles outbreak in the Philippines at the beginning of 2019, the Netherlands Red Cross data team was able to apply new data techniques. By using this approach, the Philippines Red Cross was able to make informed decisions on their humanitarian response based on the availability of smart data. This is a great example that shows how we can make a difference by providing effective and sustainable humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people.

How do you think Humanitarian Aid will look in 10 years time?

I would like to see less need for humanitarian assistance ten years from now. Hopefully, by then, we will be even better at predicting disasters and will be able to do more to prevent disasters and prepare people for them. We are already investing in forecast based financing where we provide cash assistance based on weather forecasts so people can rebuild their lives faster after disaster strikes. We already see positive results of this work in practice. For example in Bangladesh where we provided cash assistance to allow vulnerable people to bring themselves and their cattle to safer places. Eventually, we were able to prove that people that received cash were more resilient than those that did not receive this assistance.

Are there any final thoughts you have?

I really appreciate how the different member organisations of DCHI are able to put aside their individual interests and invest in collaborating with each other in order to help more people in better ways. As climate change will increase the number of natural disasters, and in a time where the safety of humanitarian aid workers in conflict areas is under pressure, the work of this coalition is of extra importance.