Humanitarian needs caused by conflicts and violence – 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, particulary people affected by conflict, too often do not benefit from this increasing pace of innovation. Thus, the Engineering for Humanitarian Action (EHA) initiative 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 programme consists of 3 main components: joint research projects; development, testing and implementation of innovative solutions; and educational programmes.

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

Anda Alkhatib
Anda Alkhatib
Project Manager of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Grégoire Castella, PhD
Grégoire Castella, PhD
Head of the Humanitarian Tech Hub (EssentialTech Center, EPFL)
Federica Du Pasquier
Federica Du Pasquier
Strategic Advisor to the President of the ICRC
Priya Mohanty
Priya Mohanty
Programme Manager at ETH4D (ETHZ)
Emeline Darçot
Emeline Darçot
Project Manager at EPFL
Adina Rom, PhD
Adina Rom, PhD
Executive Director of ETH4D (ETHZ)

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

EPFL

  • Dr. Klaus Schönenberger
  • Prof. Jean- Philippe Thiran
  • Prof. Tamar Kohn
  • Prof. Edouard Bugnion

ETH Zürich

  • Prof. Isabel Günther
  • Prof. Kristina Shea
  • Prof. Tobias Schmidt

ICRC 

  • Fiona Terry