RSC Launches $600,000 Project on Role of Innovation, Technology and Private Sector in Refugee Protection

17 September, 2012

The Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) has launched a new two-year project that aims to explore ways in which product and process innovation can be used to transform refugee protection.

The Hunt Humanitarian Innovation Project is funded by a $600,000 donation form Stephanie and Hunter Hunt through the Communities Foundation of Texas and is being led by Dr Alexander Betts, University Lecturer in Refugee Studies and Forced Migration.

This project seeks to provide a creative research space within which to develop a better understanding of the role of humanitarian innovation in both refugee emergencies and protracted refugee situations. 

'Humanitarianism' can be divided into a range of sub-sectors: water, sanitation, health, shelter, internet and communications technology, for example. In all of these areas, a range of untapped products and processes may be available with the potential to improve humanitarian response. But often humanitarian agencies have continued to pursue old ways of working, focusing on immediate emergencies rather than having the time or space to stand back and explore other possible solutions that may be available to address existing challenges.

The new project will serve as a knowledge platform for sharing and documenting sources of humanitarian innovation by systematically exploring the range of actual or potential products and processes 'out there' that may be piloted, iterated and taken to scale in the humanitarian and refugee contexts. It will develop a database, based on looking at sources of innovation across humanitarian organisations, universities and the private sector, across different geographical contexts.

Research Officers on the project are Dr Naohiko Omata and Louise Bloom.

The project has a cooperation agreement with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) initiative 'UNHCR Innovation'.