On April 25th and May 12th, 2015, two massive earthquakes struck Nepal causing widespread damage. 8,790 people died, and more than 22,300 people were injured. Close to 500,000 homes were destroyed, and more than 250,000 houses were partially damaged. Many households lost livelihood assets, crops and livestock. The Red Cross Red Crescent Network (RCRC) supported Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) in responding to the disaster, and more than 100,000 households received immediate lifesaving assistance. The response has now transitioned into the recovery phase in 14 affected districts.

Since January 2016, Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) is implementing an ‘integrated recovery and resilience programme in Kavre District. The programme is supported by Danish Red Cross (DRC),  Australian Red Cross (ARC), Canadian Red Cross (CRC), Finnish Red Cross (FRC), Norwegian Red Cross (NorCross), and Hong Kong Red Cross. The programme is currently addressing affected households in different components (shelter, wash, health, livelihood and capacity development for NRCS and communities).

 

I joined the team as DRC livelihood delegate to provide technical support in the livelihood activities through the creation of short-term income generation opportunities for vulnerable households; building skills and products required at the local markets and strengthening household production. Some positive impacts are already visible, but, how we can implement new approaches or ideas that can solve current challenges in the vulnerable communities? What would we change and improve to make better results? Here is when my innovation journey stars.
I decided to join the IFRC Global Innovators Accelerator to understand better complex ecosystems and how to enhance local solutions. After our first training early this year, I developed an introductory workshop with the team to spot bottlenecks, discuss problems at different programme levels, and to encourage participants to see innovation as a muscle that needs to be exercised every day.
One of the first steps was to identify local agencies already doing innovations in the country. After a scanning activity, I found Nepal Innovation Lab (NLab). NLab was founded in December 2015 as part of World Vision International’s Nepal Earthquake Response, designed to foster inclusive and innovative solutions for effective humanitarian action in Nepal. They were the link to lighting initiatives, development challenges and partnership with local actors. For example, we discovered FieldSight, a supervision and monitoring platform that adapts standard smartphones for improving quality during programme evaluations, saving us tons of time in our Kavre operation.
Our collaboration has been growing, NLab has given support to develop skills from NRCS and DRC during this innovation process. A diverse group 20 participants from NRCS and DRC were part of a Design Thinking workshop for learning and testing various tools (mindsets, problems identification, ideation and prototyping session), all with the support of NLab.
One of our key achievements is related to the exploration of financial services network and cash-based transfer solution designed for rural and unbanked members of Nepal’s agricultural sector. Financial services consist of micro-loans, micro-insurance, and remittance handling, which are transacted through Sikka, a Nepali Rupee-backed e-currency built on the Ethereum blockchain. We collected feedback from the community using focus group discussions.

Lastly, we visited environmental friendly activities developed by other organisations (CEAPRED and ICIMOD) in the district (production of organic pesticides and fertilisers). From this month, we will test some ideas in the field. From now, an exciting innovation journey starts in Nepal!

Lucia Taboada

Livelihood Delegate, IFRC Global Innovation Pioneer

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