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These innovators are making humanitarian response more efficient

These alarming trends prompt a call for the world to not only address the ongoing crisis but also to adopt innovative approaches to fulfill the growing humanitarian needs in such emergencies.


These innovators are making humanitarian response more efficient
War, persecution, conflicts along with natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes put millions of lives at risk, every year. Image Credit: Twitter(@UNOCHA)

War, persecution, conflicts along with natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes put millions of lives at risk every year. According to recent estimates, over 201 million people around the world currently live in areas experiencing a humanitarian crisis, subsequently putting a lot of pressure on governments, humanitarian organizations that tirelessly work to provide basic services in such fragile and conflict-affected areas.

These alarming trends prompt a call for the world to not only address the ongoing crisis but also to adopt innovative approaches to fulfill the growing humanitarian needs in such emergencies. New technological advancements offer innumerable affordable tools to address the mounting challenges organizations face while delivering aid to those affected by humanitarian crises.

The United Nations' World Food Programme, the world's largest humanitarian organization along with the Humanitarian Grand Challenge is holding its first-ever Innovation Acceleration Week in Munich. The week-long event is convening humanitarian and innovation experts from across the world who will assist chosen innovators to develop solutions for the vulnerable people in conflict zones.

The Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development, the Government of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with support from Grand Challenges Canada. Here are a few of the innovative projects funded by the Humanitarian Grand Challenge that are leveraging low and high-tech solutions to save and improve the lives of people living through humanitarian conflict. These projects will be showcased at the Innovation Acceleration Week.

  • OmniVis

Cholera, an acute diarrhoeal disease that is caused by consuming food or water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae claims 21000 to 143000 deaths, every year, according to the World Health Organization's statistics.

To prevent infectious diseases affordably, OmniVis is developing a smartphone-based solution that detects cholera in under 30 minutes as opposed to traditional tools that take up to one week. As per the information provided on OmniVis' official website, the company's patent-pending software analyzes samples and detects contaminated water, geotags the location where the sample was taken and notifies authorities when there is a contamination.

The rapid cholera detection solution is expected to be available by Spring 2020.

  • NeedsList: NeedsBot

NeedsList, a Public-Benefit Corporation creating solutions for displaced communities, is developing an automated chatbot for humanitarian organizations and nonprofits to communicate their supply and volunteer needs in real-time from an active conflict zone or peripheral zone.

Video Credit: NeedsList

The chatbot allows aid workers and organizations to use instant messaging in urgent supply and human resource needs. These needs are further aggregated into a secure database that can be accessed by governments, individual and corporate donors to offer help in real-time.

  • Change:WATER Labs

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) is recognized as a basic human right is crucial to sustainability and economic development and interlinks all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations. Inadequate hygiene, water quality, and poor sanitation practices lead to deaths of millions of the world's poorest people from preventable diseases each year.

Change:WATER Labs is developing a sustainable, low-cost, waterless toilet for non-sewered households and communities. Named iThrone, the incredibly cost-effective and self-flushing toilets use a simple membrane to rapidly evaporate 95 percent of sewage without using any power or plumbing infrastructure.

With the support of the Humanitarian Grand Challenge, an organization committed to find and accelerate life-saving or life-improving innovations to help the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people experiencing humanitarian crisis, change:WATER Labs seeks to improve the lives of 7.5 million people by deploying iThrone.

  • Safe Water Optimization Tool

Contaminated water may result in water-borne diseases including viral hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, dysentery and other diseases responsible for diarrhea. Worldwide, some 88 percent of diarrhea cases are related to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or inadequate hygiene.

Leveraging cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and advanced data analytics, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research is developing a Safe Water Optimisation Tool (SWOT) to provide humanitarian field workers with well-managed water quality monitoring data and generate site-specific and evidence-based water treatment recommendations to reduce the incidence of waterborne disease or control outbreak. Humanitarian agencies can use this innovative tool to ensure that the water is safe for consumption in the household.

  • Fudación Acción Contra El Hambre

Although the world is producing more than enough to feed everyone on the planet, millions still starve to death and suffer from some form of malnutrition, particularly in the developing countries where 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished. Around 155 million children under 5 years of age suffer from stunted growth.

The Guatemala-based Fudación Acción Contra El Hambre is developing an app to diagnose Severe Acute Malnutrition in real-timed. Titled SAM Photo Diagnosis, the app offers a quick and reliable diagnosis of childhood malnutrition by simply taking a picture. The app classifies children's nutritional status based on their body shape, informs users if the child suffers from malnutrition and further provides instructions for treatment referral.

  • Hala Systems

Hala Systems, a social enterprise that develops advanced technology solutions for people living in the world's toughest places including war zones and disaster areas has developed Sentry, a low-cost, exportable early warning system that uses artificial intelligence, remote sensing, and the internet of things to provide civilians with a real-time warning of impending airstrikes.

According to the company, the presence of Sentry and remotely operated air raid sirens can reduce the lethality of airstrikes by up to 27 percent in areas of heavy bombardment.

  • SurgiBox

SurgiBox is an ultraportable operating room that makes safe surgery accessible anytime, anywhere even without access to standard surgical facilities. The plastic enclosure ensures that the patients and providers remain safe from surgical site infections.

The patient-sized inflatable operating theatre is accompanied by a rechargeable battery that inflates the enclosure in less than two minutes and powers the airflow system to keep it sterile.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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