DEPP Innovation Labs for safer communities -
Innovating Solutions Appropriate to Local Context
Innovating Disaster & Emergency Preparedness solutions appropriate to the local context begins by seeking innovations locally. Before disaster comes calling again.
Seek every improvement imagined and expressed by a resident in making life better within the built environment. Innovations that make one better prepared to battle and survive in times of emergency. Wisdom which makes the quality of life in normal times better. Communities are then more prepared to face recurrent emergencies, leading to lower impact, disruption and loss of life. The DEPP Innovation Labs seek to scout and support ideas to address these needs, for Safer Communities . It is a part of the broader DFID-Start Network Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) Labs, which aim to identify and support contextualized solutions to local emergency settings. In Korail, these labs are called INNO ZONES.
The main Inno Zone based in Korail, Dhaka (the largest slum in Bangladesh),draws on the vibrancy of community-led innovation. The solutions are driven by a user-centered design philosophy.
Focusing on the interface of emergency health and the built environment, the Inno Zone examines the direct, yet seldom recognized impact of the built environment on emergencies as well as chronic stresses and the quality of life.
Slums are a microcosm of the country’s population, helping understand vulnerabilities that have driven these families to migrate. Innovations are sought in the wisdom and capacities that they bring with them, and how these transform to adapt to the urban setting. These allow for drawing transects to communities in other geographic contexts. For this, three Satellite Inno Zones are run in the coastal area of Galachipa, the mountain area of Rangamati and the river basin area of Habiganj.
Exploring the interface between emergency health and the built environment.
The interface between heath and built environment influences both disaster preparedness and long-term risk reduction. It has an impact on:
The quality of the built environment often determines the extent of a disaster’s impact, with higher casualty rates being observed in communities living in sub-standard houses and settlements. This has repercussions on mortality and morbidity rates during and in the wake of emergences, as well as leading to secondary hazards.
Poor habitat planning and access to basic services can translate into protracted crises in terms of chronic epidemiological concerns. Issues also include fire risk, poor ventilation, the capturing of pollution as smog and poor (or non-existent) sanitation that leads to water-borne disease. In all of these cases, specific vulnerable groups face higher levels of threat.
Invisible Social Issues
Deeper and more invisible issues such as women’s reproductive health, community mental health, and children’s developmental concerns are also directly impacted with the quality of the built environment. This has repercussions on the quality of life, and on survivability in the face of a disaster.
How will INNO ZONES assist?
WILL SCOUT FOR INNO IDEAS - Engage with the community in seeking local knowledge and innovations. Scout and identify potential innovations at the community level based on a robust screening process.
WILL ENERGIZE THE INNO IDEA - Build them up to be extra durable, even more functional and deliver better value. Nurture selected ideas with financial support to develop them further. Assist with technical handholding including networking with appropriate organisations. Validate the innovations technically for scientific rigor and social validation for appropriateness within communities.
WILL GET THE INNO IDEA READY FOR EVERYBODY - Scaled up and ready to be adapted by one and all. Dissemination of emerging ideas across the region and peer learning. Core research around innovations that were identified, but failed to receive grants; and dynamic issues that emerge over the project period. Pilots for these will be done in field locations of partners regionally.
WHICH types of ideas will INNO ZONE seek?
Innovations drawn from indigenous knowledge and local wisdom; topped with scientific inputs looking at:
Health: Innovations that address health risks, including nutrition, day-to-day stresses and disaster epidemiology.
Built Environment: Innovations around the entire human settlement. This includes houses, public buildings, lifeline structures, roads, infrastructure and open spaces.
Social Enterprise: Entrepreneurship will be the strategy to test and build a demand driven innovations approach, and to ensure sustainability of successful innovations beyond the intervention period.
Communications: Innovations around building knowledge and awareness. Communications is also a critical element for ensuring effective outreach to target communities, practitioners and aid organisations towards replication and scaling of successful innovations.
‘Innovation’ as a buzzword has been used and abused. We hope to learn from vulnerable communities, tapping their learning, doing more with less and still doing better!