Event recording

The State of Humanitarian Innovation: What has it achieved and where is it going

This content is not shown because you have denied third-party cookies. You can view it at https://youtu.be/QiSpQyWR3CU, or update your cookie settings

The event explored:  

  • The impact of innovation on humanitarian performance over the past decade: a review of M&E data and evidence from an original ALNAP study conducted as part of the 2022 State of the Humanitarian System report  
  • Elrha’s presentation of their findings on the funding landscape and trends for innovation finance: what we know and what the data can’t tell us   
  • A reflection on the different models used for incubating and accelerating humanitarian innovation and what has worked 
  • How has the sector progressed on scaling innovations that work, and what’s needed to address remaining barriers 
  • The shifting balance between Global North-based innovation and innovations driven by Global South actors or communities themselves  
  • The future of innovation and what is needed to make it more impactful in an ever more challenging and resource-constrained humanitarian sector 

For many years, innovation has been a top policy priority for humanitarian donors and agencies, promising greater efficiency, quality and effectiveness in humanitarian action.   

There have been notable success stories – cash-based programming, community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) and mobile-based communication – as well as difficult challenges for several initiatives designed to overcome barriers to scale in the humanitarian system.  

The funding, thinking, and maturity of practice around humanitarian innovation has shifted over the past decade, but the big questions remain: what has humanitarian innovation accomplished? What has been its impact on performance? And how aligned is humanitarian innovation practice with community priorities and ideas for their own solutions? 

At this event, ALNAP brought together leading thinkers and agencies who have led the agenda on humanitarian innovation over the past decade, to step back and review what these investments have meant for humanitarian action, and what this means for the future, as humanitarian budgets shrink.


  • Jessica Camburn | CEO, Elrha 
  • Lydia Tanner | Director, The Research People 
  • Nan Buzard | Head of Innovation, ICRC 
  • Takeshi Komino | Vice President, The Asian Disaster Reduction & Response Network (ADDRN) and General Secretary of CWS Japan 
  • Nicholas Leader | Team Leader, Humanitarian Research and Innovation, Research and Evidence Directorate, UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) 
  • Vanessa Mwangale | East and Central Africa Regional Manager, Response Innovation Lab
  • Ian Gray | Director, Gray Dot Catalyst  

The event was chaired by Alice Obrecht, ALNAP’s Head of Research and Impact.