Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Conference and Exhibition http://dihad.org/?page_id=128 is currently taking place here in Dubai. I am here representing NTNU by invitation from Innovation Norway and the NOREPS network http://www.noreps.no/ . NOREPS is, as far as I know, the only initiative supporting industrial innovation as a national effort towards the humanitarian market. For a small nation with rather high labour costs, and for SMEs in particulary, it can be a challenge to compete and launch products towards the humanitarian releif market. Quality, user friendliness and service is the main thing Norwegian enterprises emphasize as their strenghts. They are also spearheading the move towards greener technology within humanitarian innovation.
The NOREPS initiative can support and make norwegian innovation more visible under the Norway stand. They also have the international experienced staff to communicate well with the humanitarian customer, and can therefore also more effectively target customer needs and have a better dialouge between product developer, customer and donor which will benefit these industrial actors as a whole.
In DIHAD, the product range is large and spans from Toyota vehicles to these little lamps designed in India and colorful dune blanket bags that can keep cooking pots hot and save energy for low income households.
However, as one staff member from a company with broad experience with disaster victims put it: “nothing will work unless it works for the people. And people are so full of grief in these situations. They will not want anything more than water, medicine and food.”