©OlivierMatthys , ICRC

Humanitarian Action


The world has not seen as many forcibly displaced people since World War II. In 2019 almost 71m people had to flee their homes because of conflict and insecurity. Out of those, 80% are being hosted in neighbouring countries, which are mostly LMICs. There are also natural or man-made disasters as well as large outbreaks of severe diseases afflicting essentially poor countries, e.g. Ebola, which create massive humanitarian crises. In 2017, over 200m people worldwide needed humanitarian assistance. Besides the increasing frequency of humanitarian crises, their duration has also increased which somehow blurred the distinction between humanitarian and development challenges. As it turns out, today the needs for essential technologies in humanitarian action and development are very similar, though the process to develop and deploy them may be different. This prompted humanitarian organisations, such as the ICRC, to seek alternative and novel innovations to confront and address their tasks. In recognition of the pertinence of EssentialTech’s approach and methodology by ICRC, in 2016 the Humanitarian Tech Hub was established jointly by ICRC and EPFL, and hosted at the EssentialTech Centre.

EssentialTech also has strong partnerships and collaborations with other important humanitarian organizations, such as Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and Terre des Hommes.


Our collaboration with EPFL reflects our ambition to respond adequately and efficiently to the growing humanitarian needs. It is through innovative approaches and working together that we can better help the most vulnerable.

Pascal Hundt

Head of Assistance Division, ICRC