Technologies for humanitarian assistance

11 July 2016

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  • Start des WFP Innovation Accelerator
    Opening of the WFP Innovation Accelerator

    As part of the official opening of the WFP Innovation Accelerators, experts discussed the importance of innovation to support work aimed at eradicating world hunger.

    Pictured (from left to right):
    - Robert Opp, Director of Innovation and Change Management of the World Food Programme
    - Katherine Milligan, Director and Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
    - Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, Chief Impact Officer of Singularity University
    - Till Wahnbeck, General Secretary of Welthungerhilfe
    - Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board
    - Khalid Bomba, Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency

  • Gespräch mit Bundesentwicklungsminister Dr. Müller
    DLR Chair Pascale Ehrenfreund in conversation with Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller

    During the event: DLR Chair Pascale Ehrenfreund (right) and the DLR Institute Director Stefan Dech (centre) talk with German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller (left).

  • Offizieller Start des WFP
    Official launch of the WFP

    Official opening of WFP Innovation Accelerator (from left): Robert Opp, Director of Innovation and Change Management of the World Food Programme (WFP), VDR; Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs; Helmut Brunner, Bavarian Minister of Food, Agriculture and Forestry; Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director; Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development; Bernhard Kowatsch, Head of the WFP Innovation Accelerator.

  • Notfallkartierung: Hungerhilfe in Somalia
    Emergency mapping: famine aid in Somalia

    In 2011, East Africa suffered the worst famine in decades. DLR generated emergency maps for the UN World Food Programme (WFP). This satellite map gives information about the size of the settlements in Baardheere as well as infrastructure and hydrology.

  • Vergleichskarte: Bevölkerungsstruktur von Wajid, Somallia
    Rates Map: Population distribution in Wajid, Somallia

    To support hunger relief in the UN World Food Programme (WFP), DLR created a comparison map of different cities in Somalia to understand population distribution and the movement of refugees. It was possible to analyse differences in the city of Wajid between April and August 2011 using satellite data.

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been actively involved in humanitarian aid for many years. Alongside government partners, the private sector and scientific institutions, DLR is supporting the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) work towards a world with zero hunger. The WFP Innovation Accelerator launch event on 11 July 2016 featured top level discussions with prominent international figures to discuss the increasing importance of technology and innovation in the fight against hunger. The new WFP facility was inaugurated in Munich by WFP's Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dr Gerd Müller and the Bavarian Minister of Food, Agriculture and Forestry Helmut Brunner.

"By providing and developing its technologies, DLR aims to make a contribution to supporting global aid, to feeding the world, and to putting an end to hunger, among other things. In doing this, we can draw on a variety of expertise and synergy from research in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security," said the Chair of the DLR Executive Board Pascale Ehrenfreund during the opening.

Until now, DLR has provided mainly high-tech, remote sensing solutions for humanitarian aid, for instance by very quickly producing maps for emergency services deployed in areas hit by catastrophe. Satellite images can also provide information on whether food rations have been deposited at the correct locations, thus helping to supply flights. But this is just one of all the applications of cutting-edge technology: "For instance, relief organisations require support with regard to decentralised energy and water supply, in addition to the extremely high demand for remote sensing images that is used to assess humanitarian emergencies. What is more, relief workerson the ground need improved satellite communications solutions and are increasingly looking for high-tech systems to recognise emerging crises early on," reports Günter Strunz from the DLR Earth Observation Center (EOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen.

Humanitarian assistance is concurrent with sudden-onset emergencies and crises. This is why technologies – to reflect their intended purpose – need to be deployed quickly and to the benefit of those involved. DLR has the capability to engage in operational research and to contribute rapid support in aid missions. To increase these capabilities, stronger relations will be fostered between research and development work in this area in order to better exploit potential synergies in the provision of technical assistance to aid workers in crisis regions. This will be an important contribution towards a word with zero hunger.

The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On average, WFP reaches more than 80 million people with food assistance in 82 countries each year.  11,367 people work for the organization, most of them in remote areas, directly serving the hungry poor. The WFP Innovation Accelerator provides the financial support, strategic guidance and creative space to test and scale up promising ideas – from both WFP staff and external entrepreneurs – developing them into solutions to global hunger.

Last modified:
11/07/2016 16:15:01



Bernadette Jung
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Public Affairs and Communications

Tel.: +49 8153 28-2251

Fax: +49 8153 28-1243
Prof. Dr. Günter Strunz
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

German Remote Sensing Data Center

Tel.: +49 8153 28-1314

Fax: +49 8153 28-1445
Dr Stefan Voigt
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Department: Geo-Risks and Civil Security

Tel.: +49 8153 28-3678

Fax: +49 8153 28-1445