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Sweden’s innovative solutions for crisis & disaster relief
By Our Business Bureau March 25, 2017
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DUBAI: Swedish delegation to DIHAD 2017 promoted sustainable innovations for international crisis and disaster relief. The Embassy of Sweden in Abu Dhabi and Business Sweden also hosted a Swedish pavilion, gathering ten of Sweden’s most innovative companies and organizations within the humanitarian sector.

A roundtable meeting also brought together Swedish companies and organizations with Emirati, regional and international humanitarian organizations for discussions on the latest developments in finding innovative solutions for crisis and disaster relief operations.

As a world leading country of innovation, Sweden believes that global humanitarian and development challenges require strong cooperation between academia, industry and the public sector, including development organizations.

This collaborative model for encouraging innovation is often referred to as the Triple Helix Model. It envisions an active role by the private sector in improving solutions to meet the needs of current and future humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

Among the solutions presented in the Swedish delegation at DIHAD this year, award-winning and groundbreaking products were of interest, such as cost efficient modular post emergency shelters, near patient testing in infection control diagnosis, portable water treatment, solar water heater and purification systems.

The ten companies and organisations that participated in the Swedish delegation to DIHAD 2017 were Better Shelter, Biab International, Ecoloo, HemoCue, Prime Design, Solvatten, Solar Wave, and Sundaya.

The UAE Government has been incredibly active in raising awareness for the global refugee crisis and in encouraging actors from all sectors to play their part.

The #FlyForPeace campaign at DIHAD, in which Syrian orphaned refugees depict their vision of peace on kites, is Bilqees Sarwar’s Foundation answer to this call.

It embraces the value of art as a therapeutic outlet to process trauma. Designing and flying kites is an empowering way of expression among child refugees. It is shown in research that flying kites in particular provides a sense of freedom; it represents a life without borders and is a powerful symbol of limitless possibilities.

This was mentioned during the just concluded 14th edition of Dubai International Humanitarian and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD) held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

DIHAD 2017 has witnessed a number of important initiatives, campaigns, events, and partnerships that coordinate stances and joint programs in order to alleviate the suffering of children in disasters, conflicts and wars.

This year saw the first ever hackathon to be held at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid Exhibition and Conference, was managed by the World Food Programme / UNHRD LAB Dubai.

Seventeen Computer programmers and behavioral neuroscience students jointly developed a unique software application for IOS and Android to aid children in crisis globally that they called SMILE.

The developers worked skillfully under guidance of experienced professors from the Rochester Institute of Technology and WFP/UNHRD employees experienced in humanitarian and development aid.

The app ‘SMILE’ provides specific services for the educator working with children in the heart of the crisis. It will increase their awareness on several aspects of behavioral abnormalities that children in crisis suffer from.

Dr. Yousef Al Assaf, Dean R.I.T. said: “RIT Dubai is proud to support the DIHAD 2017 Hackathon, run in conjunction with WFP –UNHRD.  It is an excellent initiative and as a long-term partner of WFP, we are very much aware of the important and life-changing working the program carries out. This initiative combines the academic and technical expertise of our faculty and students to offer real life solutions and research that make a difference in the world.”

From his side, Abdullah Al Wardat Director of the WFP UAE and GCC said: “World Food Programme (WFP) is pleased to have the opportunity to showcase at this hackathon, a life event that can impact the well-being of children in crisis. The app ‘SMILE’ will gradually counteract to various vulnerabilities and promote emotional intelligence as part of an all-encompassing education. Further, we are honored to play a role in preparing students to contribute to the sustainability challenges of the today.”

On the other hand, the winner of the Red Cross & Red Crescent competition on innovation was announced yesterday at DIHAD. The Lebanese Red Cross received the award from the IFRC Secretary General Elhaj As Sy for its creative proposal on “Using humanitarian values towards a culture of non-violence and peace”.  The project will promote non-discrimination and social inclusion by engaging different NGOs and address tensions among migrants and their host communities through interactive training and role-play known as “Our village’s treasure” on behaviour change. The theme is extremely critical as Lebanon is dramatically affected by the civil war in Syria and hosts a large number of refugees.

In his award receiving speech Sarkiss from the Lebanese Red Cross quoted the well-known saying from Ned Nodding, “Attitudes and mentalities are shaped, at least in part, by experience (because) self-knowledge is much more powerful than the inert and the inactive knowledge of others that we gain from books and lectures.”

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