The United States Agency for International Development Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) have partnered with Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) to launch Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge. This opportunity will fund approximately 10–15 seed projects up to CAD $250,000.
While international agencies often lack access to the people they wish to assist, local responders operating in humanitarian emergencies work in treacherous conditions with limited resources. In 2014, 99.6% of humanitarian funding went to international agencies rather than national organisations. The Grand Challenges model aims to circumvent this problem by putting resources directly in the hands of those who need them most.
Today’s conflicts are increasingly protracted and complicated, frequently man-made and drastically underfunded. The humanitarian system is struggling to get effective aid to the world’s most vulnerable people. In 2017, when I spent six months supervising logistics and operational support for the World Health Organisation in Yemen, I saw this struggle with my own eyes.
Humanitarian workers and those affected by conflict overwhelmingly agree that improving assistance to those caught in war zones must be a top priority. However, many are unsure whether innovation can find ways to bypass blockages, siege, and fighters determined to stop or delay assistance.
Therefore, we have decided to focus on helping populations in conflict zones create local solutions to the problems they face, especially the most acute problems – from the perspective of affected people, and especially where the innovation demonstrates scalability in concept, design (e.g. by partnership with the private sector). This challenge prize aims to be one of the sparks that inspires systemic change in how the world works together when faced with complex issues, such as providing, supplying, or locally generating safe drinking water and sanitation, energy, life-saving information, or health supplies and services to help conflict-affected people.
We are particularly interested to hear from innovators with lived experience in conflict zones. The Grand Challenges application is open to people from around the globe, including those from non-traditional backgrounds. Ultimately, GCC is interested in the number of lives saved and improved by these innovations. Given that the true impact of innovations is in the future, proposals must include a plan of how relevant immediate and intermediate indicators will be monitored and evaluated over the life of the project.
We are looking for innovations that can be proven in conflict settings that if successful, can be adapted and scaled to other locations and contexts. Those interested in applying can learn more and submit their applications via: HumanitarianGrandChallenge.org.
- Chris Houston – Senior Program Officer (Humanitarian), Grand Challenges Canada