Canada joins U.S., U.K. and Netherlands to support humanitarian solutions in the world’s most challenging conflict zones


Categories: News Release

International $32.5 million-dollar fund focused on improving access to safe water and sanitation; energy; life-saving information; and health supplies and services for conflict-affected people


Toronto, November 9, 2021 – The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance to over 235 million, and has pushed those already affected by humanitarian emergencies to live in even more precarious conditions. While the pandemic surges, lack of clean water, access to energy, life-saving information and health supplies and services continue to limit populations living in conflict. Millions of 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. There is a need for 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.

Investing CAD$8 million, Canada joins the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge. Canada’s commitment to humanitarian innovation is part of $200 million committed to Grand Challenges Canada over seven years. The Humanitarian Grand Challenge Partners announced $3.6M to support 12 new and ground-breaking humanitarian innovations that improve the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies and services in Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria. The 12 finalists were selected from a pool of 582 applications from 71 countries. As needs continue to grow and access to communities becomes even more challenging, especially with global supply chains affected by the pandemic, innovations supported by the Humanitarian Grand Challenge become increasingly crucial to reach those affected by conflict.


“We believe innovation is key to meeting the immense humanitarian needs around the world. Proof of this are the impacts we see from the innovations supported by Humanitarian Grand Challenge, which have already saved and improved lives for communities affected by humanitarian crises. We are confident this partnership will support more ideas, especially from local organizations, to improve response and the essential delivery of humanitarian aid,” says the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of International Development.


From cold-chain monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines in hard-to-reach areas of Syria, to addressing PTSD among school children in Yemen, and enabling food storage in Nigeria’s displacement camps using solar-powered cold chain, these innovations are transforming humanitarian response for the hardest-to-reach people in conflict.


The Humanitarian Grand Challenge sources, supports and scales up bold humanitarian innovations to help conflict affected people. Learn more about the 12 finalists who will be receiving a total of $3.6 million to implement ground-breaking solutions to address ongoing humanitarian needs in the world’s most challenging conflict zones. The following are the finalists:

Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge Finalists

Hand in Hand for Aid Development: Locally making high-quality, lower-body prosthetics for people living with disabilities in Syria, meeting needs in a cheaper, faster and more practical way.

Vitale Energie: Empowering communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the electrification process, by focusing on ensuring energy needs for health centres and communities at large.

Village Help for South Sudan: Where access to electricity is limited, Village Help for South Sudan are implementing an innovative project that leverages stand-alone solar and storage microgrids to deploy electric pressure cookers, electric induction stoves, and a general 30W outlet for lighting and phone charging in rural South Sudan.

Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation: The dire situation in Yemen have left an estimated 79% of children experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation will upgrade the skills and knowledge of school counsellors to address the needs of middle and high school students with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

SunGate Solar: SunGate Solar is pioneering the deployment of solar minigrids in South Sudan, a solution that will provide reliable 24-hour AC power to off-grid communities. The minigrid will supply high-quality electricity to customers of varying energy needs, such as homes, businesses, water pumps, and hospitals or healthcare centres

Hala Systems: Hala Systems is designing an affordable solution that automates the laborious and manual data tracking methods used in cold chain monitoring by replacing them with a single wireless sensor paired with mobile and web applications. This real-time last mile vaccine cold chain monitoring will increase quality vaccines to remote communities in Syria.

Youth Empowerment and Development Aid: To better reach and connect internally displaced persons with humanitarians, the Youth Empowerment and Development Aid (YEDA) will establish a community network of individuals, train them and equip them with portable solar panels, phones and radios, to collect and deliver information to vulnerable internally displaced persons in hard-to-reach areas in South Sudan.

The MENTOR Initiative: To address and control dengue outbreaks in Yemen, the MENTOR Initiative will conduct a pilot study to examine the effectiveness of two novel vector control products, the Sumilarv 2MR and Envelope, in reducing the infections within households caused by Aedes mosquitos.

Bureau Diocésain des Œuvres Médicales: Bureau Diocésain des Œuvres Médicales will develop a micro-factory, using their energy grid-independent water purification system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The system is able to produce pharmaceutical grade intravenous (P-IV) serums, including, but not limited to, pharmaceutical water, normal saline, and oral rehydration solution.

MSI Reproductive Choices: Marie Stopes International Yemen will provide skills training and mental health support for post-miscarriage care (PAC) providers in Yemen.

ColdHubs: ColdHubs is a ‘plug and play’ modular, solar-powered walk-in cold room, for 24/7 off-grid storage and preservation of perishable foods. They are enabling food storage in displacement camps in Nigeria, using solar-powered cold-chain.

SecDev Foundation and SecDev Group: Mitigating digital harms and building community resilience in one of the world’s most extreme crises, Yemen. This work will build a playbook to detect, deter and disrupt digital harms, including misinformation and disinformation, while strengthening long-term community resilience.


About Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge

Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and Global Affairs Canada, with support from Grand Challenges Canada. Partners have contributed USD$32.5 million for the Humanitarian Grand Challenge, which was launched in 2018 to enable local organizations, humanitarian agencies, and the private sector to work alongside affected communities to respond more nimbly to complex emergencies, address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering around the world, and empower people to create better lives for themselves.



For more information, please contact:

Zeba Tasci, Associate Communications Officer

Humanitarian Grand Challenge

[email protected]