Humanitarian needs caused by conflicts and violence – and worsened by extreme climate events and the COVID19 pandemic – are at a record high. On the other hand, emerging technologies affect entire sectors and will have long lasting positive effects on many aspects of human well-being and prosperity.

However vulnerable populations, and in particular people affected by conflicts, too often do not benefit from this increasing pace of innovation. Thus, the Engineering for Humanitarian Action (EHA) program is driven by its partners’ conviction that science and technology have the potential to contribute to bridging this gap and that the unique Swiss ecosystem can spearhead this endeavour.

EHA is a partnership between both Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Zurich and EPFL) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to develop innovative solutions for a greater impact of humanitarian action. The program is articulated around 3 main components: joint research projects; development, testing and implementation of innovative solutions; and educational programs.

This initiative is managed by ETH for Development (ETH4D) at ETHZ and the EssentialTech Center at the EPFL.  ETH4D links researchers from engineering, natural and social sciences with civil society, NGOs, governments and industry to develop and scale innovations for the global population. The mission of the EPFL EssentialTech Center is to harness science and technology to drive sustainable development, support humanitarian action and foster peace.

Established in 1863 and at the origin of the modern conception of humanitarian action, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operates worldwide, helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organisation, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The ICRC is committed to leveraging technological innovation and the sciences to ensure its actions remain suitable, efficient and inclusive, in step with social and scientific developments.

EHA coordination team

Federica Du Pasquier
Federica Du Pasquier
Advisor to the President at International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Grégoire Castella, PhD
Grégoire Castella, PhD
Head of the Humanitarian Tech Hub (EssentialTech Center, EPFL)
Leonie Hensgen, PhD
Leonie Hensgen, PhD
Programme Manager at ETH for Development (ETHZ)
Priya Mohanty
Priya Mohanty
Programme Associate at ETH for Development (ETHZ)
Nour Khadam
Nour Khadam
Project Manager of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Marina Gonzalez Lazo, PhD
Marina Gonzalez Lazo, PhD
Project Coordinator of the Humanitarian Tech Hub (EssentialTech Center, EPFL)
Anda Alkhatib
Anda Alkhatib
Project Manager of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

EHA steering committee

Prof. Detlef Günther
Prof. Detlef Günther
Vice President for Research and Corporate Relations at ETHZ
Prof. Jan Hesthaven
Prof. Jan Hesthaven
Vice President for Academic Affairs at EPFL
Balthasar Staehelin
Balthasar Staehelin
Director for Digital Transformation and Data at ICRC
Prof. Isabel Günther
Prof. Isabel Günther
Co-founder of ETH for Development (ETHZ)
Prof. Gilles Carbonnier
Prof. Gilles Carbonnier
Vice President of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Klaus Schönenberger, PhD
Klaus Schönenberger, PhD
Director of the EssentialTech Center (EPFL)

EHA scientific committee

  • Dr. Klaus Schönenberger (EPFL)
  • Dr. Grégoire Castella (EPFL)
  • Prof. Jean- Philippe Thiran (EPFL)
  • Prof. Tamar Kohn (EPFL)
  • Prof. Edouard Bugnion (EPFL)
  • Federica du Pasquier (ICRC)
  • Prof. Isabel Günther (ETHZ)
  • Prof. Kristina Shea (ETHZ)
  • Prof. Tobias Schmidt (ETHZ)
  • Dr. Adina Rom (ETHZ)

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