Jigsaw Consult was contracted by the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP) to produce case studies to enhance understanding of innovation processes. Seven case studies were published in total, each following a structured, complex methodology. They were used to inform the development of ALNAP’s report, ‘More than just luck: Innovation in Humanitarian Action.'

Each case study focused on a humanitarian innovation funded by ELRHA's Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) grants. A key objective of the HIF is to improve understanding of innovation processes in the humanitarian sector. An important part of achieving this is the production of case study material on specific projects, aimed at improving the sector’s understanding of how to undertake and support innovative programming in humanitarian action. This learning is then used to inform and provide guidance to the HIF and other humanitarian actors on how innovation can be better supported, resulting in improvements to humanitarian practice.

The focus of the case studies was an examination of the process through which innovations emerge and progress in humanitarian settings, to examine whether assumptions about this process hold true, and to learn more about the specific characteristics and attributes of successful innovation processes. 

A wide range of stakeholders were interviewed for all case studies, enabling a depth of understanding from many different points of view, ensuring an accurate reflection of the innovation process and highlighting key lessons learned throughout the process that can be incorporated into improving humanitarian practice in the future.

Seven case studies were produced by Jigsaw Consult and published by ALNAP. The topics of these case studies are as follows: 

1. Mapping a response: Using satellite images to aid humanitarian action.

This case study describes Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), who create and provide maps to support humanitarian organisations in their response to conflict or natural disasters.

2. Improving menstrual hygiene management in emergencies: IFRC's MHM Kit.

This study explores IFRC’s innovation process in developing and testing a comprehensive relief item to meet more effectively and appropriately the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls in emergencies.

3. Using mobile voice technology to improve the collection of food security data: WFP’s mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping.

This case study looks at WFP’s innovation into Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM), a programme that integrates mobile technology, including SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and live calls, into WFP’s established food security monitoring systems.

4. Supporting disabled people in emergencies: Motivation’s appropriate and affordable wheelchairs. 

This case study describes how Motivation, in partnership with Handicap International (HI) and Johanniter International (JUH), developed a wheelchair and training package for use in emergency response contexts. The aim of the innovation process was to develop a wheelchair that would offer clear improvements over the donated orthopaedic wheelchairs currently used in emergencies.

5. Words of Relief: Translators without Borders’ local language translation for emergencies.

Words of Relief is a Translators without Borders (TWB) project designed to provide local language translation services to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), UN agencies and other actors during humanitarian response.

6. The humanitarian lessons-learned genome.

This case study explores the development and implementation of the Humanitarian Genome Project, an innovation arising in the University of Groningen and developed in collaboration with humanitarian agencies. The Humanitarian Genome 1.0 was designed as the first version of a free, digital, open source and globally accessible application allowing humanitarian workers to quickly access evaluation data to inform their decision making.

7. Mobile technology: Listening to the voice of Haitians. 

This case study analyses the innovative development and use of an Interactive Voice Response system for the first time in a humanitarian setting by the IFRC. Haiti’s 2010 earthquake was a major opportunity for international aid agencies to address the challenge of improving two-way communication with disaster-affected communities – a facility emphasised as central to emergency response following previous disasters.


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