When we hear the word innovation, most of us will automatically think about, highly-developed technologies, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing, data and digital solutions, but, what if we start looking closely to the creative ideas already being formed or utilised by affected communities around the world, to the strategies that are being developed by the people who are facing these challenges and already developing solutions? We very often find a range of innovations that are highly effective at helping people build resilience to increasing threats, but are perhaps not receiving the support they need to develop further.

The perks of local innovation

Local innovations can often prove highly effective, they tend to be easily replicable, practical, culturally appropriate and employ materials and skills available locally.  Some of them are not new and sometimes they are incremental rather than revolutionary, but they deliver gains, whether they be indigenous building techniques in Iran that prove highly effective at resisting earthquakes, or a rebuilt house in Pakistan that is raised on earth and reinforced by a native plant to protect against flood waters, at times our rush to design new solutions overlooks existing ones that work very well and misses an opportunity to support local people who are developing their own innovations.

Two very good examples occurring now in the RCRC Network
  • Indonesia local innovation in flood resilience

As floods continue to challenge Indonesia, a nationwide innovation challenge has been launched in order to find local innovations in preparing for and responding to these kinds of disasters. Alongside this, a ‘Lead User’ approach is being tested to identify key people who are already innovating to help build their resilience to floods; the idea is to merge their creative projects together with other experts to co-develop new solutions. This programme has been supported by the Indonesia Red Cross (PMI), Hamburg University, Bambung University, UN Global Pulse Lab Jakarta and the Humanitarian Leadership Academy. Learn more about Flood Resilience and Local Innovation.

Read the complete story of the conference here.
  • Macedonia positive deviance approach

Positive Deviance is an inquiry to try and understand why it is that some groups who are living in the same circumstances with the same resources experience better outcomes than others. In the suburb of Skopje, Shuto Orizari, which is the single largest autonomous Roma municipality in the world, MRC/CRC Skopje is conducting exploratory research to identify Roma school students confronting similar challenges, constraints and resource challenges to their peers, who nevertheless are performing better at school and who experience higher motivation to finish primary and secondary school. Observation and interviews are two of the most powerful tools of this method that seeks to understand how some students under similar conditions achieve different results. Once the positive deviance factors have been identified those families are asked to help other families to make similar changes. When finished, this project will hopefully reduce dropout rates and promote social inclusion through education in the municipality, by utilizing what works already.

Start looking closely to your environment

We are sure you know people that are innovating locally right now, by working together, amazing results can be achieved. Our aim is to continue collaborating with National Societies around the world, adapting methodologies to their context and helping them to scale their local approaches. We are always looking for partners in this work, so if you are interested contact us.

Do not forget to read our local innovation infographic.

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