Global Resilience Challenge Unveils Winning Solutions to Toughest Development Challenges

The Global Resilience Partnership announced today funding for eight teams to implement transformative resilience solutions to problems that threaten the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations in countries including Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Philippines and Uganda. Teams participated in the Global Resilience Challenge, a multi-stage design competition that received nearly 500 initial applications to address the most difficult resilience challenges. Each of the eight teams will now receive up to $1 million–pending required Congressional approval– to demonstrate how their solution could be scaled and adopted by others in the future.

The Challenge is the first project of the Global Resilience Partnership, a public-private initiative convened by The Rockefeller Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). With $160 million in contributions –including a recent $10 million commitment from Zurich Insurance Group – the Partnership is committed to fostering resilience at scale and transforming humanitarian and development assistance.

“We must better align humanitarian and development investments and thereby create a resilience dividend,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “The eight winners of the Global Resilience Challenge demonstrated how we can create multiple wins for individuals and communities when problems are clearly understood and when solutions respond not only to today’s realities, but build in flexibility to manage tomorrow’s unknowns.”

“In order to achieve our 2030 Global Goals, we must build resilient societies that can mitigate the impacts of climate change, and other inevitable challenges that threaten to erode development gains,” said Thomas Staal, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID. “These eight winners will bring us closer to achieving these goals by empowering the poorest communities on earth with the resources, tools and know-how to mitigate risks and foster growth.”

The winning teams collectively represent 68 professionals from fields as diverse as meteorology, infrastructure design and finance, and have tapped the expertise of 40 organizations in the three focus regions and 19 international institutions. Half of the teams are women-led. The eight teams are:

  • Trans African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) will empower local communities and vulnerable agriculturists across Uganda with an innovative early warning weather system for severe weather across the drought prone Cattle Corridor, the accident prone areas of Lake Victoria, Kyoga, and Wamala, and Uganda’s flash flood prone highlands. Leveraging the prevalence of cell phones across the country, the team will partner with mobile operators and the Ugandan National Meteorological Authority to provide low cost, on-demand access to weather alerts to more than 16 million Ugandan cell phone users and free access to all 8 million Airtel subscribers.
  • MetaMeta Research and partners will transform the way roads – conduits for modern commerce and life – are planned and built in the Horn of Africa by introducing innovative designs and improved guidelines to harvest rainwater, prevent soil erosion, and improve use of roadside land. By bringing together government authorities, water and climate experts, and roadside communities – especially women and the poor, this team will ensure that road construction efforts produce multiple benefits for all communities and enhance resilience.
  • Mahila Housing SEWA Trust will empower women from slums in seven South Asian cities to take action against the most pressing climate-related risks facing their communities: heat waves, flooding, water scarcity, and water and vector borne diseases. The team will equip the urban poor with the technology and know-how to undertake vulnerability and risk assessments and implement their own resilience plans. Through a network of women advocates, they will empower these communities to influence city planning so that their cities adopt adaptation and resilience actions that reflect a pro-poor agenda.
  • Grameen Foundation USA will build resilience among coconut farmers in the Philippines who, despite forming the backbone of the country’s top agricultural industry, are chronically poor and especially vulnerable to climate change. The team will help farmers to improve productivity, access financial services, expand market access, and use early warning systems to control pest and disease outbreaks. Working with government, agribusiness, and financial services partners, the team will leverage mobile technology to provide coconut farmers with real-time data and services to help strengthen their businesses and reduce losses to their families due to extreme weather events and volatile markets.
  • Groundswell International will build the resilience of communities in the Sahel’s ecologically fragile dry lands, giving particular attention to women in the more vulnerable households. The team will help small scale farmers to experiment with agro-ecological innovations to increase climate-resilient food production and dietary diversity in their communities, while also regenerating soils, trees and vegetative cover. By enhancing women’s access to credit, land, and water, the team will empower women farmers in the process. These efforts will be brought to scale by fostering intensive “farmer to farmer” learning and exchange between communities, linking up with district government development programs, and fostering more effective nationwide policies and programs to build resilience.
  • Mercy Corps will strengthen the resilience of agro-pastoralists in Mali and Niger by expanding their access to formal financial services. The project will educate agro-pastoralist men and women so that they can make informed decisions about their household finances and better manage risk. It will unlock access to new credit options, including warehouse credit for farmers and tailored credit products for women’s groups. Using mobile banking and other technologies, 50,000 agro-pastoralists will be brought into the formal financial market.
  • Mercy Corps International will be a catalyst for transformation in the livestock market system, increasing resilience for hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people in one of the most shock exposed places in the world: the Horn of Africa. The project will help livestock owners manage their assets and livelihood risks while simultaneously increasing their household-level productivity and wealth. The project aims to benefit 50,000 vulnerable households.
  • University of Sydney, in collaboration with partners in Australia and Southeast Asia, will strengthen the voices of people with disabilities in the region who are disproportionately affected by climate-related disasters, and often overlooked in traditional disaster risk reduction efforts. Taking a multi-action approach, the team will support the generation of knowledge, risk awareness and skills needed to help people with disabilities to gain institutional and social support needed to effectively prepare for hazards and disasters. Through coordinated advocacy, they will also empower people with disabilities to influence governmental resilience strategies and become champions of resilience in their communities.

“These teams are looking at interconnected challenges–from water conservation to food security to climate change–and identifying holistic solutions that bring societies together to prepare for and overcome disruptions,” said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Director-General of Sida. “By combining multiple sector resources and expertise with local knowledge and engagement, the ideas directly address the challenges and realities people are facing.”

More information about the teams and details on the next stages of the Challenge can be found at