Inspiring Solutions That Save Lives & Support Development – 2016 Edition

Inspiring Solutions That Save Lives & Support Development – 2016 Edition

Humanitarian stakeholders face a number of interconnected current or emerging challenges, including climate change, ever-growing refugee crisis, as well as water scarcity and food insecurity. Science and technological innovations play a critical role in contributing to effective aid delivery and enabling efficient disaster response and development programmes.

As part of the annual update of the guide to “Solutions That Save Lives & Support Development”, the Aid and International Development Forum (AIDF) together with the Technology Exchange Lab have researched latest technologies and innovations, which can help humanitarian actors to mitigate the future implications of these challenges.

With over 300 solutions nominated by NGOs, local governments, UN agencies and the private sector working in 58 different countries, the guide offers an updated list of cutting-edge technologies and products which support Sustainable Development Goals, aid delivery and disaster relief efforts across the globe.

On behalf of AIDF, we would like to thank everyone for their participation in our recent survey and congratulate organisations which made it in the 2016 edition of the guide. The solutions span from earth-imaging satellites and 3D printing to sustainable innovations in basic sanitation, shelter and nutrition. 

We hope this report will inspire new solutions to improve humanitarian aid delivery and shape brighter future outcomes. Here we present just some of the technologies and services at the forefront of sustainable humanitarian and development aid, researched and recommended to us by you:

Jump to Category

  1. Data collection, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) & mapping
  2. Information & communication technologies (ICT)
  3. Disaster response
  4. Healthcare & medical equipment
  5. WASH
  6. Agriculture, food & nutrition
  7. Energy supply
  8. Logistics, shipping & aid delivery
  9. Shelter & temporary housing
  10. Community engagement
  11. Training & education

If you are interested in hearing more about these innovations and humanitarian solutions, or you have one to suggest, attending our upcoming AIDF events will provide you with access to our sought-after round table discussions, innovation pitches from selected solution providers and networking opportunities  with stakeholders from regional governments, investors, donors, UN agencies, NGOs, research institutes and the private sector.

Find out more and register to attend:

>> AIDF Asia Summit, Bangkok, 21-22 June 2016

>> AIDF Global Disaster Relief Summit, Washington DC, 7-8 September 2016

>> AIDF Africa, Addis Ababa, February 2017


From the perspective of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the data revolution presents an opportunity of transformation towards a more sustainable society. Data can be used not only for optimisation, but also to sense the needs of the people more accurately in real time and connect better with communities. Furthermore, data can be used to improve the representativeness and transparency in policy making.

Inspired by the data revolution and working towards Sustainable Development Goals, itdData, initiated by Innovation and Technology for Development Centre at the Technical University of Madrid, designs Big Data projects for social innovation and development, helping to improve interactions between actors in the society.

Aeryon Labs boasts the SkyRanger, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) solution for aerial mapping and search, and recover operations. It has been tested and proven in harsh environments and challenging conditions and requires very little training for new operators.

Aeryon Labs SkyRanger

Project NOAH is a website that consolidates geospatial data to help develop near real-time disaster management systems for the Philippines. The project lets end-users to use LIDAR data to view high resolution topographic data as a base map and as DEM (digital elevation model) for use in hazards modelling and other purposes.

The Myanmar Information Management Unit is an information management service, a sort of “one-stop shop” for data, maps and other resources needed by government agencies, NGOs, the UN, and others trying to implement humanitarians and development projects.

Akvo is a not-for-profit foundation that creates open source, internet and mobile software and sensors. Akvo helps organisations collect, analyse, and share data, therein helping to make development and governance more transparent.

UltiSat is a global provider of secure, reliable satellite communications networks for military and government entities, telcos, service providers, IGOs, and enterprises. It recently launched UlitNet, a comprehensive portfolio that integrates satellite, wireless and information security products and services. UltiNet enables high value, SLA-based, C and/or Ku-band connectivity to end users in remote and harsh territories.

Planet Labs operate the largest constellation of earth-imaging satellites, which collect data to support aid delivery after natural disasters, amongst other applications. Planet Labs offers global imagery to empower informed and meaningful stewardship of our planet.


As digital technology is constantly evolving, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play significant role in improving the quality and efficiency of humanitarian aid and development work. Humanitarian actors rely on tools that foster effective communication in order to support effective programming and satisfy the need for information, which exists amongst those affected by humanitarian disasters.

Organisations can use the VOTO mobile phone notification and survey system to promote healthy behaviours via voice messages or SMS. Users can promote healthy behaviours or educational information, announce meetings, and share local news.

UNICEF Innovation in partnership with Nyaruka, developed RapidPro, which allows to connect directly with a user on their mobile phone over SMS, voice, or social media without the help of a software developer. From youth engagement programmes like U-Report to education monitoring systems like EduTrac, RapidPro has become UNICEF’s common platform for developing and sharing mobile services that can be adapted for different contexts and sectors.

Similar to RapidPro, U-Report is designed to empower people in developing countries to speak out on issues in their communities. Users can reply to SMS polls and alerts every week, thereby giving administrators an immediate snapshot of the situation. As a large-scale SMS tool available in 21 countries, operationalisation of U-Report in an emergency is now central to UNICEF disaster Risk Reduction and Response measures.

Thuraya, a mobile satellite communication company, now offers SatSleeve, a simple and user-friendly way to convert an iPhone into a satellite smartphone. Satellite mode offers users the ability to make calls, check email, and more in places where there is no terrestrial network.

Global Xpress, Inmarsat’s new global high-speed broadband service, enables aid and NGO organisations to deliver fast reliable broadband internet for first responder teams, no matter where they’re deployed. 

Helios Worker Safety provides a rugged cell phone with push-to-talk communication and SOS alarm button. Features include group messaging, location, dispatch service, and a SOS button. It works off any data connection.

The ONE Solution from RedRose is a complete programme management system that provides end-to-end solutions for humanitarian agencies. NGOs can register beneficiaries; mobilise cash transfers, DIK's, and voucher programming; and conduct reporting and monitoring.

RedRose ONE Solution


Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity - disasters affect millions of people each year around the global. Responses and logistics, in particular, remain inefficient for a number of reasons.  

Field Ready aims to effectively develop products and services for people in developing countries and disaster areas. Professionals from Silicon Valley have contributed their expertise in humanitarian work, technology, design, and engineering in order to provide practical and unique solutions that help people in need.

Field Ready's Mark Mellors demonstrates printing a water pipeline joint replacement on a 3D printer powered by the 4x4 vehicle in an IDP camp in Sindhupalchowk, Nepal

When a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster strikes, the need for natural resources such as water and light is vital to saving lives. To ensure that demand is met, Business Connect has established a network of suppliers that will enable the company to provide critical assistance when timing is crucial.

The S.E.A. Group (website under construction - see announcement) is comprised of six enterprises from Cordoba dedicated to the production and provision of supplies and services in the field of humanitarian aid, emergencies and natural disasters. These enterprises are engaged in: wildfire suppression and rescue equipment; the design and development of flow measurement and control equipment; tailored early warning products and services for predicting floods and wildfires; rapid deployment solutions; telecommunications infrastructure and water treatment units; special vehicles equipment; and more.

Recent partnerhip between Hexagon’s incident management software, Intergraph Computer-Aided Dispatch (I/CAD), and TomTom helps optimise emergency response performance in countries, including Australia, India and South Korea. TomTom's map and traffic data in combination with I/CAD will help increase dispatching accuracy and reduce response times to incidents and emergencies in the Asia-Pacific region.


According to World Health Organization (WHO), dengue is the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease in the world today, causing nearly 400 million infections annually. Worldwide, the annual cost of dengue disease control effort is estimated at US$ 8.9 billion. The suffering and economic impact caused by this disease do not only affect at public health and societal level but also directly at individuals and families.

After 20 years of research and development and close collaborations with the global dengue scientific and public health communities, Sanofi Pasteur is making the world's first dengue vaccine available. As a part of an integrated approach for effective control of the disease, this vaccine could be a game changer, contributing to the achievement of the WHO objectives to reduce worldwide dengue morbidity and mortality by 25% and 50% respectively by 2020.

Royal Philips and the Sijunjung Regency in West Sumatra, Indonesia, have developed a full-scale implementation of Philips’ Mobile Obstetrics Monitoring (MOM) service in the region following a successful pilot programme. This scalable smartphone-based digital health service is designed to identify mothers-to-be who are at high risk of pregnancy-related complications and help reduce maternal mortality rates. The MOM solution enables midwives in remote locations to share vital measurements, observational data and mobile ultrasound images with obstetricians and gynaecologists in the country’s larger hospitals and collaborate with them for improved decision making during pregnancy.

HemoCue point-of-care testing systems give fast and accurate anaemia screening, which can be advantageous during health consultations and in emergency situations. In particular, HemoCue® Hb 201 DM System improves the administrative workflow and safeguards patient testing and data, with data management in Hb point-of-care testing.

InStove Autoclaves are solid-fuel devices for medical equipment sterilisation. It has been used in several countries, including post-earthquake Nepal and in over 60 clinics throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is a safe, efficient, and low-cost way to sterilise medical supplies and bio-hazardous waste. Plus, it can double as a biomass cook stove, now rated as one of the cleanest, safest and most efficient of its kind. The Autoclave system has been listed by the WHO in their 2014 Compendium of Innovative Health Technologies for Low-Resource settings.

SATMED is dedicated to providing open-access e-Health and m-Health tools and services to assist non-governmental organisations, hospitals, medical universities and other health care providers active in resource-poor areas. SATMED tools and services support and facilitate work and projects in the area of e-care, e-learning, e-surveillance, e-health management and e-health financing.

B Medical Systems medical refrigeration equipment is used for large‐scale vaccination programs in emerging markets. This year the company will be launching a series of new products developed specifically for the cold chain of vaccines. 


AFRIpads Menstrual Kits are reusable sanitary pads designed to provide superior feminine hygiene protection and comfort. Made from high-performance textiles, the kits provide effective protection for 12+ months (menstrual cycles), making them a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution.  The design is an “all-in-one” pad that buttons securely into a pair of underwear.

Real Relief Way water filter has been designed for use in developing countries and disaster areas, where access to clean drinking water is particularly important.

Real Relief Way water filter                                          DayOne Waterbag

Flexigester System is the first rapid deployment anaerobic digestion system with a capacity to process over ten tons of sanitation waste, created by Butyl Products.

Ultrafiltration Systems and Reverse Osmosis Systems are highly mobile water filtration and treatment equipment designed by Kärcher Futuretech. It consumes little energy and can be broken down into portable, individual modules for transportation to remote rural areas with an aim to provide good quality drinking water in a sufficient quantity wherever needed.

Envirosan creates environmentally friendly sanitation solutions. Using technologically advanced machines and techniques, Envirosan is able to provide a comprehensive range of plastic injection moulded sanitation systems and solutions, specialising in waterless sanitary products.

The DayOne Waterbag™ from Day One Response is a 10-liter (2.5 gallon) family-sized water bag purification device with integrated filter and backpack straps. The Waterbag provides all four of the functions needed to treat and safely store drinking water: collection, transportation, treatment, and hygienic storage. It is a compact solution designed for use in emergency situations, and natural disasters where the drinking water supply has been depleted or is of unknown quality.

AquaResearch set out to design a water treatment system that would meet the extreme needs of individuals and families in developing countries. Enter the H2gO Purifier, a rugged and low-cost, solar-powered handheld device that uses only salt to purify water. 

The Fieldtrate Lite from WaterRoam, is a lightweight, point-of-use, instant microbiological water purifier that can provide instant access to clean and safe drinking water. It has a flow rate of 6-9 L/h which can provide for a household (5-7 people) microbiologically clean drinking water for up to 3-5 years. Fieldtrate Lite is capable of removing bacteria, pathogens and of protozoan parasites without any electrical power.


Agriculture makes the living of millions of family farmers and their respective communities. The agricultural performance affects food security. ICT enable traceability that is the first step to get organic labelling and thus give access to higher sales prices.

Over the last few years, the cloud has significantly changed how organisations utilise software and there is no secret why cloud has ascended into the mainstream of business technology. Agraria, a company dedicated to the implementation and operation of a services platform based on SAP HANA Cloud, runs the Ivory Coast Rural Market Place, which is part of the wider eAgri project by the Ivory Coast Government. The initiative aims to recruit one million small farmers as part of the country’s 2020 objective to implement transformational e-government services. Such solutions are an integral and crucial enabler for innovation and development in Africa, as recognised at the recent AIDF Africa Summit 2016.  

NutriMyanmar, a programme run by a French non-profit association GRET, which supports a local business to design, market and promote breast milk supplement for young children (6-23 months) with an aim to fight child malnutrition in two pilot areas of urban and rural Myanmar.

In the Philippines, the Department of Science Technology is establishing Complementary Food Production (CFP) facilities as part of its Malnutrition Reduction Program, an initiative created to address the prevalence of under nutrition among children from 6 months to 3 years old. The CFP facilities are being set up in partnership with local government units in order to use technologies to continuously produce nutritious baby food blends and snack foods made from rice, mongo, sesame, and other locally available raw materials. These facilities and technologies enable production of complementary foods readily available for feeding programmes and emergency situations, as well as for market distribution.

Global Food Exchange offers a fleet of products and services needed for basic survival following natural disasters and other forms of crises. It offers four “vaults,” specialised packages of goods and services designed for rapid deployment to meet critical needs related to food, clean water, and shelter.

SlowFood International has a three-pronged mission: to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions; to counteract the rise of fast life; and to combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, in where it comes from, and how our food choices affect the world around us. A grassroots movement now in 160 countries, Slow Food engages in biodiversity projects, spurs celebratory events to draw attention to local foods, and builds networks to connect people passionate about changing food systems.

A new livestock insurance product, run by the Kenya-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), uses satellite imagery to determine forage availability and offers payouts when there is lack of rain in order to protect herders income against drought. The index-based insurance programme is funded by the British, U.S. and Australian governments and the European Union. With assistance from Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture, it subsidised five tropical livestock units (TLUs) for free for poor households, who cannot afford insurance premiums.

Human-powered treadle pump is one of the low-cost technologies used by farmers to irrigate land. Such pumps, advanced by iDE Bangladesh supply chain development programmes, have been introduced in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zambia following their success in Bangladesh.

Treadle pump, iDE Bangladesh  


Concentrating solar dishes from A Better Focus are inexpensive devices for solar cooking, water purification, and heat storage. These cookers generate a higher level of heat energy, though the cost of materials is relatively low. The designer is willing to train local residents in the manufacture and implementation of these dishes.

The Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Humanitarian Working Group aims to provide refugees with crucial access to energy for lighting and powering. Solar lighting devices make it safer for people to navigate camps at night, and they enable them to continue studying or working after dark. Mini-grids can provide electricity for crucial camp functions such as security, lighting, communication, water pumping, and waste management.

In Africa, "One Lamp, One Child" project, initiated by a Taiwanese company, Speedtech Energy, equipped children with Solar Reading Lights in order to improve their education. 

One Lamp, One Child project, Speedtech Energy

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves recognised that food distributed by humanitarian agencies is typically dry and energy dense; often, it must be cooked for long periods of time before it can be eaten. Without clean and efficient cook stoves, many families rely on solid fuels such as wood or charcoal for cooking, which create smoky fires that damage respiratory health. Providing clean cook stoves and alternative fuels to crisis affected populations can save lives and support development.

AidGear designs portable power and water purification systems for disaster responders and military units - lightweight (less than 70lbs) and efficient (treat water at 2 gallons/minute) solutions for mobile teams.

Solar-powered lanterns, by Renewit, use the latest LED technology to deliver high powered, bright lasting white light. A Hong Kong based design and manufacturing company also offers Home Power Stations to enable a complete lifestyle change in the home with the ability to power lighting, radios, TV and Fridges.


ReliefOps.Ph is a web-based decision support tool for better logistics during disaster relief and rescue operations. Created by Reinabelle Reyes, Lecturer at the Department of Physics and Department of Information Systems and Computer Science Ateneo de Manila University or “The Filipina who proved Einstein right”, it contributes to the government's research and development initiatives to address the major challenges in disaster risk reduction and management facing Philippines.

UPS offers a range of shipping solutions designed specifically for temperature sensitive or perishable pharmaceuticals with an aim to tackle supply shortages and adverse impact on beneficiaries’ health as a result. Special packaging, refrigerated trucks, air and ocean, cargo and cryogenic shipping containers as well as constant monitoring ensure that shipments stay within specified temperatures throughout the journeys. UPS Order Watch®, enabled by the cloud-based technology platform, allows tighter connectivity and efficient supply chain management to decrease lead times and improve reliable fulfilment.

Flu vaccine being delivered to the Laos People’s Democratic Republic, UPS

Crown Agents is a non-profit social enterprise with almost 200 years’ experience in supply and logistics. In this area its key competence is in end to end solutions including last miles solutions. Greenshields Cowie, Crown Agents’ wholly owned logistics and freight forwarding operation, moved 2,111 tonnes of essential aid into the country, from items required for the construction the six Ebola Treatment Centres to personal protective equipment and life-saving medicines. Crown Agents provides similar solutions for crises in Iraq, South Sudan and Syria, providing capacity building to local companies and customs.

Emergency Logistics Team is setting out to develop and deliver a suite of Humanitarian & Emergency Logistics (H&EL) training programmes. ELT has already worked with one midsize UK INGO, Health Poverty Action. Bringing such an organisation’s procurement functions more in line with modern professional operations could give them the opportunity to bid for larger funds from donors, in turn giving them more autonomy in the running of their day to day operations.

Humanitarian Logistics Association promotes and supports professional development initiatives within the global humanitarian logistics community of practice. It acts as a neutral interface to leverage knowledge, information and capability across humanitarian organisations.

The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) helps locate and move goods from suppliers to affected communities rapidly and efficiently by comprising hundreds of supply-chain businesses who are prepared to respond in the event of disasters. ALAN’s web portal serves as a clearinghouse for essential supplies, goods, and services during times of crisis, where relief organisations post urgent needs on the portal, from requests for local warehouse space to advice on how to best move products into position.

The SPACCER lifting system provides an easy and fast method for lifting vehicle’s front and/or rear by up to 48mm. The suspension lift kits are custom-made for each individual vehicle type thus providing availability for all makes and models. 


The Aussie Mozzie Tube is a lightweight, portable, and vermin proof personal sleeping capsule. It is available via self-manufacturing to help smaller communities, states and countries to prepare before disaster strikes and to provide the first line of defence following disaster. The Aussie Mozzie Tube can be manufactured using lightweight materials, basic skills and domestic sewing machines.

The winterHYDE from billionBricks is a life-saving, fully insulated, lightweight shelter designed to provide privacy and to protect a family as large as five from the cold.

winterHYDE, billionBricks

Tiguri devised the Tiguri Green Village, a fully integrated way to build a connected, sustainable community with access to electricity, clean drinking water, and a self-contained waste processing system. It is designed to provide marginalised groups with access to shelter, sanitation, and safety, easily and efficiently. 

NRS Relief Shelter Repair Tool Kit is specifically designed for distribution in the aftermath of a disaster when shelter capacities have been affected. The ‘one kit per family’ includes rope, handsaw, various nails, machete, shovel, hoe, tire wire, claw hammer, polyethylene bag and a cardboard fold, all to ICRC/IFRC Standard.


Rappler is a social news network for stories that may inspire community engagement and for digitally fuelled actions for social change. Following disasters, Rappler provides crowd sourced information, as well as link requests for assistance to the appropriate agencies and for private sector support.

Heroic Improvisation helps communities by creating theatre improvisation workshops in order to catalyse their abilities to respond to disaster and other high-stakes events. Such exercises enable participants to practice the skills of individual awareness, leadership focus, and coordinated action that are required in difficult situations.

World Vision International is helping to establish community-managed Savings Groups. World Vision Savings Groups are appropriate mechanisms that can be integrated with other humanitarian responses to support livelihoods self-recovery, strengthening, promotion and resilience building. The group mechanism is a platform that can be used for disseminating early warning and preparedness information and are a base for social capital that can be drawn upon during and after disasters.

Savings Groups, World Vision International 


MSD provides solutions for not-for profit organisations that help with capacity building on good governance, transparency, and accountability through Organisational Development of Inspiring Culture. MSD includes self-assessment, blended training courses, coaching packages, independent certificates, and awarding for best practice organisations. This solution can be used by NGOs, social investor, donors and government to evaluate and build capacity for NGOs.

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