Securing Water for Food challenge now open

The Securing Water for Food Challenge is an initiative looking for innovative entrepreneurs tackling the issue of water and food security.

The initiative combines the help of not only the US Agency for International Development (USAID) but also the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (MFA-NL) and the South African government.

“As we see more and more droughts all over the world and surpass the one billion mark of people who don’t have enough food to eat, it is increasingly clear that we need better innovations to help our planet’s farmers grow more food with less water,” said USAID’s global Water Coordinator, Christian Holmes, in a press release. “Securing Water for Food provides catalytic funding to innovators in the water-ag nexus who can solve what is becoming one of the most pressing challenges of our time,” he continued.

Securing Water for Food will inject US$32-million by 2018, funding the acceleration process of innovations that can successfully tackle this pressing issue. Launched in 2013, the programme has saved over 700-million litres of water, produced over 2600 tonnes of food and helped more than 780 000 farmers in 25 low-resourced nations.

Not only does Securing Water for Food seek to engage the issues of drought and food security, they also seek to prioritise and encourage female-owned/led enterprises. “For Sweden, gender equality is stressed in all development cooperation, which is strengthened by our feminist foreign policy,” said Sweden’s ambassador to the US, Björn Lyrval. “In Sub-Saharan Africa, women produce as much as 80 percent of the food. It is therefore, crucial that Securing Water for Food continues to strengthen the role of women. We look forward to seeing the grantees from this fourth round of calls include women in all parts of their businesses,” Lyrval continued.

The programme is looking for innovations that have already demonstrated their success during pilots, going beyond the traditional approach to water and food security as well. “South Africa is a water scarce country and our strategic partnership within the Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge seeks to identify and accelerate science and technology innovations that improve water sustainability, while simultaneously improving food security, creating jobs and ultimately alleviating poverty,” said Dr Isayvani Naicker, of SA’s Department of Science and Technology.

The first round of the challenge has already seen companies experience significant growth.

“The support we have received to date through the Securing Water for Food has been a game changer for scaling our social enterprise. The award is enabling us to test at scale and is providing us with the guidance we need to adapt our business model to better serve the sustainability of our cause,” said one of the first round innovators, the CEO of Reel Gardening, Claire Reid. “Last year, we were able to positively impact the lives of over 300 000 people – all due to the Grand Challenge and our match funding partner Unilever.”

The fourth round of the programme has opened on the 15th August and will continue until the 10th of October and if you want more information, click here.

Featured image: Ritesh Man Tamrakar via Flickr 



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