DRA Innovation Fund 2018: Learning Event

DRA Innovation Fund 2018: Learning Event

Event – June 11th, 2019

On Thursday 30th of May, DCHI facilitated a learning session for the projects that were granted the DRA Innovation Fund (DIF) for 2018, at the PwC offices in Amsterdam. The aim of the day was for each of the five Humanitarian Innovations to share how their pilots are going since their kick-off. A main focus of the event was exploring the opportunities and challenges these innovative projects have faced along the way.

The Innovation Fund was a new facet of the DRA last year, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The objective of the DIF is to ‘facilitate an environment for piloting, scaling up and implementing innovation, ensuring Dutch NGOs are at the forefront of change and solutions to deliver high quality humanitarian action’. The lessons learnt following the first DIF Call are essential to improve and build on the work DCHI is currently doing within the ‘Safety & Protection’ initiative.

Facilitated by DCHI, the DIF 2018 Learning Event focused on sharing best practices for monitoring and leaning from innovation projects, in order to maximise their concrete impact. The five projects from the DIF 18 call covered a variety of aims, and therefore faced varying challenges  throughout their individual development:

SCAN Tool –  The Systematic Cost Analysis Tool
Empowered2Protect (E2P) – Direct protection against Sexual Violence
B-Ready – Building Resilient, Adaptive and Disaster Ready Communities Program
121 – Improving cash-based assistance
IR-App – Incident Reporting App

The lead for each project presented the pilot, discussed where the innovative quality lies, and what their primary challenges have been so far. One of the most common obstacles that arose was reconciling the cultural and professional differences within cross-sector collaboration. For many, the types of collaborations that had occurred were pilots in themselves, which had caused unforeseen delays and/or complications. Furthermore, many pilots had endeavoured to offer preventative programmes for certain issues. Therein, by definition, the main obstacle that arose is how to concretely test that the innovation is responsible for any improvements within the given issue.

DCHI stressed that monitoring innovations should be regarded as much more than a tick-box exercise with no further value. This is particularly the case with humanitarian aid, where justifying the allocation of funds is crucial for sustainable solutions within a competitive market. The value in a new idea is only realised when the implementation of the new idea has been successful. The key with an innovation project therefore, is knowing which change to current ideas and/or systems made the desired impact that can be passed on and scaled up. Thanks to this advice and an extensive peer to peer session, each project came away with concrete advice from their peers, as well as next steps to improve their pilots.

Overall, the event highlighted a variety of different obstacles faced across the very different types of projects, giving an excellent scope for lessons learnt and much advice from their peers to work with.

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