Challenge Fund Winners to Support Disaster Resilience

November 18, 2015


WASHINGTON, D.C., November 18, 2015 Fifteen innovative programs in over 20 nations have been selected through the Challenge Fund, to help developing countries better manage disaster risk and build resilience.

The grants by the Challenge Fund, a partnership between the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), will enable winning organizations to advance activities ranging from flood simulation technology in Kenya, to monitoring weather stations in Sri Lanka, and developing applications on earthquake safety for schools in Indonesia.  

Developing countries are often the hardest hit by natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, droughts, and earthquakes, yet often least able to understand or mitigate these risks. In 2015, for example, Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, endured its worst flooding on record that affected more than one million people, destroyed crops, and exacerbated an acute food shortage in the country. Through small competitive grants, the Challenge Fund helps create data, products, and approaches to facilitate disaster risk decision-making and build resilience in vulnerable countries like Malawi.

The first round of Challenge Fund grants, ranging in size from US$20,000 to $150,000, will fund programs in developing countries spanning Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, and South Asia, targeting critical areas in disaster preparedness which could benefit most from technological innovations.

The winners represent a range of companies, non-government organizations, and universities, including:

  • Floodtags, which will develop a tool to collect data through Twitter for on-the-ground flood observations in the Philippines.
  • Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction, which will add visualization abilities to a tool that provides local-level risk knowledge to support civil society organizations in Africa and Asia.
  • University of Bristol, which will produce educational films to inform on volcanic risk and support disaster resilience in the East Caribbean, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the South Pacific.

The real challenge is not technology but rather bringing together those who understand new technology with vulnerable communities on the ground to create solutions that are adapted to the local context,” said Francis Ghesquiere, head of the GFDRR Secretariat. “Our partnership with DFID on the Challenge Fund offer us an opportunity to do that, and we are very happy to see these 15 promising programs moving forward.”

The winners were selected through a highly competitive process which narrowed down the 200 submissions to the final 15. The grants will enable winners to overcome problems in three main areas. They include using new techniques to fill gaps in data and build models addressing natural disasters or direct economic loss; aiming to communicate complex and uncertain information and delving deeper to promoting behavioral change and good risk management.

“Wild Card” projects will also provide creative solutions to challenges not listed above.

All winning projects will be assessed for impact within six months. Those that can scaled, replicated, or show promise for success will be eligible for a second round of grant funding.

A complete list of the winners is available here.

About the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerabilities to natural hazards and adapt to climate change. Working with over 400 local, national, regional, and international partners, GFDRR provides grant financing, technical assistance, training and knowledge sharing activities to mainstream disaster and climate risk management in policies and strategies. Managed by the World Bank, GFDRR is supported by 34 countries and 9 international organizations. For more information, please visit click here.

About the UK Department for International Development

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. We're ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit. For more information, please click here.

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