Inspiring Solutions That Save Lives & Support Development – 2016 Edition

by Alina O'Keeffe, AIDF and Dan Swann, Technology Exchange Lab

April 7, 2016

This article has been cross-posted and abridged from You can view the full article here

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.


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. 

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.