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Innovating humanitarian aid through festivals

Our pilot project

What do festivals and refugee camps have in common? At first glance, presumably nothing. But if you think about it a bit longer, you will see that there are definitely similarities. Both are temporarily built to host a large number of people. Both places need infrastructures that support these people and logistics, sanitation, a place to sleep, a place to eat, a place to charge a phone and maybe even a place to call home, even though it’s transitory. Both a festival and a refugee camp are built to function as a miniature city, so why can’t we test technology for humanitarian aid on a festival?

It was exactly this thought which turned out to be the basis for the pilot project in our humanitarian aid program. We partnered up with The Netherlands Red Cross and the Dutch ministries of Economic Affairs en Foreign Affairs. Together, we identified three major challenges the humanitarian aid industry faces: energy, sanitation and lighting. In talking with hundreds of organizations, suppliers and influencers in both the festival industry and humanitarian aid, we discovered there are many opportunities for collaboration, co-creation and testing of innovative new solutions.


Our unofficial kickoff was at the 2016 edition of Mysteryland, one of the largest festivals in The Netherlands with around 60,000 visitors each year. We tested four innovative energy solutions to replace the unsustainable diesel generator, a power source commonly used at festivals and in refugee camps. Every year, Dutch festival organizers use around 12 to 15 million liters to power their events. This costs the organizers 25 million euro, only on energy supply: 15 million for fuel and 10 million for rental material, logistics and labor. In Europe, this sums up to a total of 500 million euro for renting the equipment alone. We believe that there are better ways, and we are working hard to find and implement them. At Mysteryland 2016 for example, we tested a roll-array solar panel system that could be used in disaster areas for instant power supply.

In 2017, we’re wrapping up the pilot project at this year’s edition of Mysteryland, where we’re having a behind the scenes look at Windchallenge and Mobisun, two pilot partners which will be running tests of their innovations during the festival.