HUMANITARIAN SECTOR IN CRITICAL NEED OF INNOVATIONS TO IMPROVE SERVICES
By Nyerere Geoffrey & Jacky Achan
Disease prevention, vaccination, health education and reestablishing family links have been identified as key areas that need critical innovations. This came to light in a humanitarian innovation event organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday 19th June 2015 at Makerere University to address areas of access to safe water, access to health care and reestablishing family links.
“These areas of health are not as effective as we want them to be, innovators must start thinking in that direction,” appealed Dr. Roy William Mayega Deputy Chief of Party Resilient Africa Network (RAN) and Lecturer at the School of Public Health Makerere University.
Attendants drew lessons from successful students from the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) and the School of Public Health Makerere in collaboration with Resilience Africa Network (RAN) who showcased their innovations that can be used in tragedy situations.
Among the showcased novelties was the Ceramic Organic Filter which is used to decontaminate water without boiling it first, which is a good innovation that people in areas with hardships can use to disinfect water and bar water borne diseases.
An emergency Telemedicine system (E-Musawo), a mobile appliance used in examining patients’ pressure was also exhibited along with Musawo Drugs, a mobile app that helps to authenticate drugs, show drugs details, identify the cheapest drugs and the nearest hospital from which people can access those drugs. This is to help people to access quality medical services at affordable prices.
Other innovations include a Blind Mobile user app, RootIO -a community radio which uses a mobile phone to broadcast- Low Cost Solar Pump and Gasifier Stoves for purifying water.
Mary Nsabagwa Assistant Lecturer and supervisor final year projects for students at College of Computing and Information Sciences Makerere University said other than teaching and research they are to ensure community outreach is strongly undertaken by lecturers.
Speaking at the conference, Dr. Mayega, Team leader of the next generation Ergonomic tent design and laureate in 2015 of the International Grand Challenge for development to target Ebola organized by USAID revealed that innovations in the area of policy is still lacking. He also said the environment of innovation must move with the community for the developed systems to work.
“Look at the case of Bududa, locals are being told to leave their homes to be safe from mudslides but the question that lingers in their mind is who is going to take over my land,” Mayega explains.
Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi a Senior Lecturer at CEDAT Makerere University equally stated budding innovators in the humanitarian must involve end users.
“You must innovate for or with the people or both if your work is to be embraced. Go out there, experience what people go through and involve end users to come up with successful solutions,” he emphasized.
While commending innovations in the humanitarian front, the Acting Director Disaster Risk Management Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) Simon Peter Anyanzo Lenin called for novelty to ensure aid is accessed by all in need.
Zoran Javanovic the head of the delegation ICRC in Uganda said that the youths should be mentored and given a chance to take part in the innovations that can see humanitarian aid reach the people in emergency situations.
But Dr. Mayega called for the innovations to cut across disciplines from production, conservation, processing and marketing.
Adding that the innovations must be global and competitive if it is to be sustainable, attract private sector partnership, save time and improve service delivery.
Dr. Okello speaking on behalf of Associate Proffessor William Bazeyo Dean School of Public Health and Chief of Party RAN part urged young innovators mostly students to take responsibility for pushing through their innovations.
Other panelists included Onen David Ongweh Program Manager Gender and Sexualit, Refugee Law Project School of Law Makerere University and Florence Okatch from Doctors without Borders or Medicin Sans Frontieres (MSF)
For the ICRC the innovation initiative rotates around pillars of Catalysis and Aspiration, Exploring, Testing, Validation and Replication, Open Innovation, and Identifying the right model for innovation which enable innovation to continuously take place.