The Pacific Humanitarian Challenge application has closed and we’re one step closer to #RethinkingResponse in more innovative and efficient ways! Since the challenge launched at the end of November, people around the world have engaged, including on Facebook, where posts garnered over 100,000 likes, including thousands throughout the Pacific region. Tweets tagged #RethinkingResponse reached over 722,000 people. In the end, applicants got creative, with over 120 innovators applying with their ideas for the chance to change how we respond to natural disasters — to make response more effective and efficient.

Experts in the field also got involved to make their mark on the challenge. Sarah Goulding, Senior Specialist Gender Equality for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, talked about why innovators should consider women in her blog post, Pacific Humanitarian Challenge: Gender Matters. Patrick Meier, author of Digital Humanitarians and a leading thinker in humanitarian technology and innovation, answered questions about how drones and other technologies can be part of relief efforts in his post, How Robots Are #RethinkingResponse.  

If you’re one of the innovators who submitted an application, here are the next steps. A committee made up of partners and advisors will review all of the applications, and up to 12 first round winners will be announced in one month, on March 7. First round winners will attend a two-day design sprint where they will present their project ideas and receive coaching during impact rotations. This will take place in Canberra, Australia on March 29 and 30. After innovators take in feedback, they’ll have a little over a week to incorporate it into their project designs, with final submissions due April 11. Winners will be notified of their award status and amount of funding on April 25. Award-winning projects will be announced at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey from May 23 to 24. The winning teams will implement their solution or prototype in the Pacific Region over the next year.

Thanks again to all who engaged with us since November as we all continue #RethinkingResponse to find more effective and efficient ways to respond to humanitarian disasters.