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Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, with support from Grand Challenges Canada. Together, we seek life-saving or life-improving innovations to help the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people impacted by humanitarian crises caused by conflict.

The Problem

Today, more than 136 million people around the world live in areas experiencing humanitarian crises. Millions of these people are unreachable by traditional humanitarian aid delivery due to armed conflict. As the length, frequency, and scope of the world’s conflicts increase, it is becoming more difficult to reach affected people in insecure areas with life-saving and life-improving humanitarian assistance. We need new solutions that respond to the needs of vulnerable, inaccessible communities – yet, less than one percent of humanitarian aid is focused on investing in the innovations necessary to reach them.

The Problem

The Solution

The U.S. Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, with support from Grand Challenges Canada, are partnering on Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge. Through this Grand Challenge, we will identify and support groundbreaking solutions that engage the private sector and draw from the experiences of affected communities in order to significantly improve - and in many cases, save - the lives of vulnerable people affected by conflict. Our goal is to identify solutions that allow communities to respond more nimbly to complex emergencies and take steps to create better lives for themselves.

The Solution

What's Next

Round 1 of the Humanitarian Grand Challenge closed in April 2018 and focused on providing, supplying or locally generating (a) clean water and sanitation; (b) life saving information; (c) energy; and (d) health supplies or services to help conflict-affected people. This call for innovation resulted in 615 proposals received from 86 countries; 48% of which came from low- and middle-income countries. About one third of the applications were from women-led projects. The 23 finalists identified are listed below, and will be detailed in the coming months.

We're looking forward to launching Round 2 of the Humanitarian Grand Challenge in Spring 2019, where $250,000 awards will be given to new innovations, and proven concepts are eligible for up to $1,000,000. More details to follow.



The 23 selected seed projects will receive grants of up to $250,000 each over a maximum of twenty-four months to support the validation and testing of new approaches. Final grants, subject to negotiation, will be signed this year. The following are the intended finalists:

Iristick – Testing “smart” glasses that allow local health care workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo to receive real-time medical expertise remotely from doctors.

Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations – Strengthening the resilience of health systems in Yemen and Syria—while diminishing reliance on diesel fuel—by integrating solar power, electronic-vehicle ambulance systems, and remote telemedicine services.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute – Developing CareNetin Yemen, a community-based network of support groups that promote the inclusion of children and young people with disabilities.

Comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania – Deploying 3-D printing technology to make high-quality lower-body prosthetics for people with disabilities in Tanzania.

Griffith University – Developing maggot-debridement therapy for effective wound care in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Fundación Acción Contra El Hambre – Implementing chatbot technology to  diagnose and monitor malnutrition in Sénégal.

Alseeraj for Development and Healthcare – Validating the need for a tele-microbiology system in Syria to enhance capacity for diagnostic microbiological testing and the analysis of results.

Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation – Implementing high-tech water-purification and renewable solar-power systems in Yemen, with the goal of producing 1,000 gallons of safe drinking water a day.

Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research – Building and evaluating a safe-water optimization tool—by leveraging cloud computing and artificial intelligence—to ensure water is safe to drink at field sites in South Sudan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Malawi.

SurgiBox, Inc., Massachusetts Corporation – Manufacturing an inflatable surgical “mini operating room” that fits into a backpack, to enable safe surgeries to be done anytime, anyplace, piloted in  Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda.

Change:Water Labs, Inc. – Validating and piloting a compact, portable, sewage-evaporating toilet that provides safe, private sanitation to homes with no power or plumbing in Panamá, Lebanon, and Jordan.

OmniVis – Developing a water-based smartphone diagnostic device for Yemen and Haiti that uses DNA-amplification to detect the bacteria Vibrio cholerae, which causes cholera, in less than 30 minutes.

Enersion, Inc. – Piloting an inexpensive, electricity-free cold-storage box in India and Afghanistan that can keep essential food and medication fresh for more than 20 weeks.

Sun Buckets, Inc. – Testing a method to collect, store, and recover solar energy in portable containers for cooking, space-heating, and thermal pasteurization in Kenya.

Johns Hopkins University – Delivering a rapidly deployable telemedicine platform called Intelehealthto connect community health workers remotely with a network of doctors, with the goal of providing primary/specialist health consultations in hard-to-reach areas of Syria and Jordan.

Energy Peace Partners – Supporting renewable energy in Uganda and South Sudan by establishing the Peace Renewable Energy Credit, which monetizes renewable-energy generation from off-grid conflict settings, by linking robust international energy markets to fragile states.

WATAN – Designing and testing a low-cost, locally sourced, mobile, plug-and-play battery module to produce stable and renewable energy for health care in Syria and Turkey.

Deutsche Welthungerhilfe E.V. – Introducing hydroponic vegetable and fodder-production at the Zam Zam displacement camp in Darfur, Sudan, with methods that use 90 percent less water than traditional farming to improve food security.

Rainmaker Organization for Sustainable Development – Piloting a system of solar-powered water pumps and sensor-driven drip irrigation in villages across South Sudan to support the livelihoods of conflict-affected people.

Johns Hopkins University – Developing a tablet-based app called MIT Sana mHealthto provide guidelines and knowledge to healthcare providers who are treating diabetes and hypertension care in Syria.

ActionAid UK – Piloting a low-cost mobile platform, designed by women, to combat violence against female refugees in Jordan by reporting incidents and providing up-to-date information and awareness on rights, local services, and safe spaces.

NeedsList – Implementing a chatbot program that aggregates real-time humanitarian needs from frontline responders, accessible to multiple stakeholders via secure database, piloted in Kenya.

Humanity Data Systems – Developing a process that simplifies the process of collecting large-scale data and feedback from the humanitarian community in Iraq, Niger, Syria, and Afghanistan.