When we consider the impacts that population growth and the warming climate are having on escalating humanitarian needs, we must assume current trends will continue. We can already see the early effects of a warming climate in the migration patterns of sea life as the currents and ocean temperatures begin to change. Weather patterns have become more extreme at times as new norms become established. Some areas are becoming wetter while other areas are becoming overall dryer. As the demand for financial resources to meet these humanitarian needs is increasing, the available funding to provide assistance is dwindling. This widening funding gap is also expected to continue. Therefore, we need to consider strategies that will help those impacted by change, while providing the means for them to adapt without continuous funding.
In the report “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” presented by the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) in preparation for the “World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, May 2016, Ban Ki-moon speaks about what type of change is needed. He states that “Change that gives a voice and leadership to affected people and local organizations as primary agents of their own destiny. Change that promotes self-reliance rather than perpetuating dependence on international assistance.” The report makes a case for the need to build a foundation for the future, by crafting solutions that do not require perpetual funding to exist. This has been motivated by the upsurge in Humanitarian requests at a time of limited funding to support them. Therefore, we agree the solutions we put forth must be founded on a process that promotes self-reliance by those impacted.
In “Managing the Journey to Scale up Innovation”, McClure and Gray set forth the case that “Real life sustainable solutions are typically messy solutions to wicked problems. They have a complexity that comes from lots of moving parts. For example, there will need to be ongoing funding or a business model and someone will need to manage the ongoing effort while looking into the future. There will be questions of maintenance, support, staffing, training and more.” This assumption gives rise to further discussion of a scalable model that is messy as it seeks to be sustainable. I’m reminded of Naval engineering projects I’ve worked on, where we were briefed about an imminent problem and afterwards the team would brainstorm, figuring out how to create a prototype solution. Later, after working in the manufacturing sector, I found the planning process to be geared more toward a process that was repeatable. Once that process was identified, duplicating it the same way over and over is what made it scalable. The problem within the Humanitarian Sector however is that a sustainable and repeatable process model must be the foundation for any scalable plan. Once we have a repeatable process that is sustainable, that model can then be funded and ramped.
Therefore, if a solution is to be sustainable and promote self reliance, it must be based on a repeatable process model that can be supported by those impacted. There will still be up front costs with setting up the model and teaching the operational methods to a team. Thus the scope of our project “Water is Freedom”, requires that after installation and training, the process needs to sustain itself over time with minimal support.