On 15-16 November, we attended the AidEx event at the Brussels Expo.
AidEx is a leading platform for the international aid and development community to come together and improve the efficiency of aid. The event, which encompassed a conference, exhibition, meeting areas, awards and workshops, had the fundamental aim to engage the sector at every existing level and to provide an international forum for aid and development professionals to meet, source, supply and learn.
Attendees varied from major NGO’s and global policy makers such as the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European NGO Federation for Relief and Development (CONCORD), and the World Food Programme (WFP) to innovative suppliers like AFRIpads and Toilets for People.
The theme of this year’s event was ‘Aid and Development Effectiveness: Results through transparency and accountability’.
On the first day, various sessions took place that focused on the forces shaping the effectiveness debate, the process of understanding needs, expectations and delivering of these, and finally the importance of measuring the effectiveness of short, medium and longer term results. A special take-away from these panels was how speakers of different backgrounds could agree with one another on multiple matters. For instance, on the difficulty of aligning international frameworks with those of aided factions, the predicament of effectively aiding beneficiaries and pleasing donors, and the ‘stifling’ of innovation caused by the many standards set by organisations. Finally, consensus was reached on how to better measure effectiveness, for instance by seeing the value of real-time evaluation, the necessity in reducing response gaps in data collection and prioritising information sharing for improved humanitarian assistance and efficiency.
The second day picked up where the first day left off: the role of data and new tech trends developments. Speakers and attendees agreed on the value of revising existing data collection, validation and evaluation methods to improve the accuracy of results as well as on data transparency and the sharing of data between all actors to be essential for accountability and effectiveness. In this conversation, the Center for Humanitarian Data in the Hague was a key example of the promising future that data sharing and networking will have for the sector whilst data analysis implementation to improve effectiveness within organisations’ own management bodies was also a popular discussion item. For example, the Belgian Red Cross discussed the implementation of qualitative reviews within its own department to ensure better development and deliverance of its own development programmes.
The conference ended with a panel of speakers from the Building Blocks programme of the World Food Programme that have sought to surpass mediating authorities through the implementation of Blockchain, a rapidly rising trend within the humanitarian field. Furthermore, the panel reflected on the use of biometrics through ‘iris identification’ for beneficiary registration in humanitarian contexts. It was argued that this could empower beneficiaries, while also significantly reducing costs, risks, control and increased privacy, speed and flexibility (for a more critical outlook on the use of biometrics for beneficiary registration, see amongst others: link). The panel showed that besides the successful results that cash-based transfers have had in development programmes. [for further information on monitoring the effect of cash-based transfer programmes, see: link]
Our aim was to discover what priorities are specifically pressing on the sector’s agenda, what trends to follow and what possibilities Digital Learning has in the field of humanitarian aid and development. The outcomes were very favorable as we discovered multiple opportunities for aiding the training sector of various organisations and possibilities to aid in data literacy. Moreover, AidEx has helped in assuring us of the increasing interest we have in this field. The future will hopefully provide us with collaboration opportunities with possible future-partners we have met at the Brussels Expo.