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                  DCHI - how it began
 Gijs de Vries, DCHI, former director of the Netherlands Red Cross, now professional supervisor and executive coach.
On 24 March 2016, the establishment of
DCHI was announced. The press release
read as follows: “At its core, the coalition consists of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, employers’ organisation VNO-NCW, the Dutch Red Cross, CARE Netherlands, UNICEF, Capgemini Consulting, and the Municipality of The Hague. VNO-NCW chairman Hans de Boer and Red Cross director Gijs de Vries in particular, together with minister Ploumen, were the driving forces behind this new initiative in which more than 20 knowledge institutions, companies and aid organisations are now involved. They share knowledge and experience and offer practical assistance, which until now was only provided on an ad hoc basis. Examples include the cooperation between the Red Cross and UNICEF with the Philips Foundation in the field of healthcare and DSM’s commitment to the World Food Programme in the field of nutrition and innovation. The latter programme reaches
25 million people each year. Ploumen: ‘This coalition is a breakthrough. Companies
are already working together with aid organisations, but that they are making their knowledge and expertise available on such a scale is unprecedented. I expect a lot from this
when it comes to the innovation of aid: how can we reach more people in a more effective way? I will be taking this as an example to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May. It is a good example of how we can also cooperate better worldwide in order
to innovate emergency aid. The number of people affected by a crisis has doubled in the past ten years to 125 million people, and the costs have even tripled in this same period. The current form of aid is proving inadequate and unsustainable. Too many people are being left without help as a result of it, while at the same time the nature of the required help is evolving. Innovation is needed to find adequate answers to these changes and to be better at helping people in need.”
It all started at the 2016 Dutch Humanitarian Summit, where the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ploumen, unveiled her plans for emergency aid and development cooperation. In her speech, she called for much more cooperation and targeted innovation in emergency aid provision by the parties involved. During the Q&A at the end of
the speech, the undersigned addressed the Minister directly from the audience with
the question “what do you think of the
idea of forming a coalition of parties from different disciplines who join forces to focus on innovation in relief aid? The Minister indicated that she was very much in favour
of such an initiative, after which I first approached the chairman of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW). The late Hans de Boer had just published an article in the Financieel Dagblad in which he stated “that the Netherlands has
so much logistical knowledge in house that the BV NL”, as he called it at the time, “should be the first to arrive on the scene of disasters anywhere in the world to offer support”. After a visit to VNO-NCW, I received his full cooperation to start working on the coalition
idea. The first parties to join were the
Dutch Red Cross, Unicef, Care Netherlands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the municipality of The Hague. Capgemini
was asked to supervise the start-up of the coalition; they did so in the person of Marleen van Amersfoort and Maaike Willemsen at very reduced rates. And so, the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation was born.
The underlying business case was based on the observation that in the last 10 years:
- The need for humanitarian assistance had
grown and had become more complex;
- The number of people affected by crisis had
almost doubled;
- The cost of international humanitarian aid
had tripled.
The first activity was a Capgemini study on “lessons learnt” from numerous international innovative relief initiatives. From this, the following guiding principles for DCHI were formulated:
- Combined leadership from the very beginning with a diverse group of individual communities;
- Clear strategy & shared agenda setting with a limited number of thematic areas for innovation;
- Focus from the beginning on sustainable innovation;
- Monitoring of innovation process and progress;
- Telling, selling, and sharing successes, including quick decisions to put a stop to failures at an early stage;
- Projects in line with humanitarian principles;
Based on this, a thematic agenda was drawn up focusing on 5 themes:
1. Caring for the health of those affected
2. Timely delivery of humanitarian goods to
the affected population
Humanitarian Impact Re-imagined

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