The Rockefeller Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) have come up with a challenge to help the global community pivot from being reactive in the wake of disasters to driving evidence-based investments to better manage and adapt to inevitable shocks.
Dubbed ‘The Global Resilience Challenge,’ the Challenge is a three-stage grant competition led by the Global Resilience Partnership, a $150 million effort of The Rockefeller Foundation, SIDA and USAID. Teams moving forward in the Challenge comprise scientists, policy practitioners, humanitarians, and a host of experts from across dozens of other disciplines. With up to $200,000 in next stage funding, these 16 teams will explore the effects of persistent cycles of drought, storms, famine, and other disasters on vulnerable populations in each of the focus regions, and identify locally driven, scalable solutions that can help communities and households adapt to and recover from chronic shocks and stresses, while reducing vulnerabilities.
The Global Resilience Partnership will fund the most transformative solutions with up to $1 million for implementation and continued innovation
The 16 teams were chosen from among nearly 500 applicants across six continents. In applying for the Global Resilience Challenge, teams were asked to submit their vision and plan for taking a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectorial approach to solving the greatest resilience challenges across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South and Southeast Asia.
In an interview withC.D. GlinAssociate Director, Africa Region at The Rockefeller Foundation, we sort to understand what the challenge was all about and the role of Technology was in creating a resilient environment especially in the GRP Challenge. Below are excerpts:
1. Kindly share in a broad perspective what the partnership between Rockefeller Foundation, SIDA and USAID is all about and why you had a key focus on Horn of Africa, South and South East Asia and SAHEL region.
The Global Resilience Partnership, spearheaded by The Rockefeller Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida), aims to build the resilience of people and communities across Asia and Africa so that they can better anticipate, prepare for and recover from increasing shocks and stresses -saving lives, livelihoods, and precious resources for when they are needed most. The Global Resilience Partnership represents a paradigm shift in how the global community responds to shocks and stresses today and builds for tomorrow.
The Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia are among the most vulnerable regions in the world, and the frequency and magnitude of shocks and stresses affecting these areas continue to increase. Each of these geographies is vulnerable to a range of impacts, including but not limited to climate shocks, health crises, rapid population growth, and destabilization from conflict over natural resources, political conflict, or both.
– In the Sahel, climatic events such as irregular rainfall, drought, and desertification lead to chronic food insecurity.
– In the Horn of Africa, the population is primarily agrarian and/or pastoral. Recurring natural and climatic events such as droughts, floods, famine, and even ash contamination from volcanic activity impact food security, agricultural and livestock assets, and economic development.
– South and Southeast Asia, home to more than two billion people across a highly varied geography, face a diverse range of shocks and stresses–from resource scarcity to climate impacts and natural disasters like coastal storms and flooding that have dramatic impacts on urban and rural poor. Weak or ineffective governance impedes development in parts of each region. Each of these geographies is also vulnerable to destabilization from conflict over natural resources and/or political conflict.
2. Being the first challenge, what is the role of technology in addressing the issues of resilience among the 500 projects submitted to this challenge?
Technology is one of three core expertise components that are part of the criteria in selecting the teams for the Challenge, along with management tools and innovative financing. Organizations using technology as a key component are focused on a range of areas, including improving tools and approaches for data collection access and analysis, as well as technology-enabled platforms for collaborations (e.g. crowd-sourced data collection, virtual platforms for data integration and sharing).
3. Out of the 16 finalists are there any technology solutions e.g mobile software applications or any other use of technology that have been developed? If yes, which ones are they and what relevance do they have in this market?
FHI 360’s “Fostering Climate Resilience through Entertaining Games” seeks to use gaming as a way to capture the attention of youth and focus them on issues such as disaster risk reduction, climate change, and resilience. Focused in the Southeast Asia region, this team will create free, accessible, entertaining and interactive games similar to Angry Birds and Minecraft, and plans to introduce players to the concept of resilience by exploring the complexities of solving resilience problems and help them understand how to make decisions to protect their communities. This region is specifically targeted, as there are expected to be 130 million gamers in Southeast Asia by 2017.These games will allow users to envision how personal and societal investments in disaster risk reduction will have long-term positive effects. Users will be more informed citizens through entertainment and can connect with like-minded individuals to identify common solutions.
The key innovation behind Stitching TAHMO’s “Meteorological Early Warning Systems to Build Resilience to Acute ClimateâInduced Shocks” is how new technologies can help deliver an early-warning system across the Horn of Africa. Their approach considers how this information can help prevent weather related damage occurring in the first place, minimize and bounce back from it when it does occur and adapt to new weather patterns. With agriculture accounting for 26% of Uganda’s GDP, this system has the potential for wide ranging and lasting impact on the lives of local people, and is something that also has the potential to be scaled across the Horn of Africa.
BRAC’s “New Measurement Technologies for Resilience Building” identifies building resilience as depending heavily on the accurate measurement of variables used to identify risks, humanitarian needs, and the impacts of interventions. Recent breakthroughs in remote sensing technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to collect data in an increasingly faster, cheaper, and more accurate manner. Tools such as environmental sensors, microsatellite imagery, and ICT-based data collection platforms are now more accessible and affordable than ever before. This team’s key resilience innovation is to integrate these technologies into existing resilience programs in South and Southeast Asia that rely on older, less effective measurement approaches, bringing together technology developers, NGOs, and academic researchers. Examples of promising applications of these technologies in resilience program include predicting gaps in small farmers’ crop yields through microsatellite data, identifying power outages through smartphones connected to the electrical grid, or monitoring fluctuation of food staple prizes in post-disaster environments.
Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT)’s main innovation behind, “Devising local coping mechanisms and adaptation technologies to build climate-resilience capacities of urban poor in South Asia,” is to bridge barriers between city officials and slum residents through targeted community leader training and implementing a range of resilience-building technologies. Specifically, the team aims to create a unique socio-technical partnership between communities and technical experts in 100 slum communities and in 7 cities in South Asia. The overall goal is to directly impact the lives of more than 125,000 poor families living in urban slums and indirectly impact as many as 5.75 million people.
Overseas Development Institute will leverage information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly the proliferation of mobile phones and networks, in their project, “Dialling up resilience: Mobilising ICTs to enhance bottom-up resilience measurement, programming and governance in the Horn of Africa.” This team’s main innovation is harnessing the spread of mobile phones for collecting data on individuals’ perceptions of the resilience of their livelihood and community. This new source of data and perspective could be leveraged for new forms of targeted direct financing for resilience, rapid assessment of disaster response and rehabilitation, and more effective-monitoring of resilience-building initiatives.
4. Since you will be funding most of these projects, what happens after you fund the projects, do you leave it at that or will you offer mentorship programs, to scale up and create a resilient environment to the problems the projects were meant to address?
Our intent is that the projects scale over time. The Resilience Partnership will require a final impact assessment plan from each team. The Resilience Partnership will implement a process to monitor and evaluate the success of the awarded solutions based upon milestones and a Monitoring and Evaluation plan agreed as part of the Stage Three granting process.
5. How many countries are involved in the entire project and will this be an annual challenge taken in by Rockefeller Foundation, SIDA and USAID?
The scope of the Resilience Challenge encompasses 20 countries of focus across the Sahel, Horn of Africa and South and Southeast Asia including: Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, China, India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Somalia, Niger, Uganda, and Papua New Guinea.
This is the inaugural Challenge led by Rockefeller Foundation, USAID and Sida, and the partnership is excited about leading Challenges in the future.