Grand Challenges Canada and USAID Award USD $180,000 SHIFT Prize to Humanitarian Innovators Applying a Systems Lens to Solving Complex Humanitarian Problems


Categories: Health, Innovation, News Release, SHIFT Prize, USAID, Women

The inaugural Systemic Humanitarian Innovation for Transformation (SHIFT) Prize awards a grand prize of USD $100,000 to Pakistan’s first woman-led telemedicine platform, Sehat Kahani, who are seeking to democratize healthcare, and USD $80,000 to the runner-up, Rainmaker Enterprise, who are at the forefront of regenerative agricultural practices in South Sudan.

Geneva, Switzerland – April 24, 2023U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Grand Challenges Canada (GCC), through its Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge portfolio, are pleased to announce the winners of the Systematic Humanitarian Innovation for Transformation (SHIFT) Prize. In response to an historic underinvestment in woman-led and locally-owned innovation, the prize recognizes and incentivizes women-led and locally-owned humanitarian innovations from GCC’s flagship humanitarian innovation portfolio, Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge, that apply systems-thinking and systems-acting in their work and engage stakeholders to co-develop solutions and shape the local systems around the problems they seek to solve.

The SHIFT Prize winner, Sehat Kahani’s telemedicine platform, aims to democratize healthcare for Afghan refugees in northwest Pakistan while providing employment to qualified female doctors who otherwise face barriers to entering the work force after marriage due to cultural and social norms. This holistic telemedicine solution consists of a mobile application, 24/7 helpline and nurse-assisted e-clinics for patients lacking reliable internet connectivity. Sehat Kahani has fostered community-based and government-enabled partnership linkages to convert underutilized health facilities to better support Afghan refugees to access Sehat Kahani e-clinics, explored industry partnerships to integrate their mobile app into wider ecosystems, and increased sensitization towards vital health disparities to reduce the burden on the economy and improve health status.

The SHIFT Prize runner-up, Rainmaker Enterprise, a local pioneer of regenerative agricultural practices, installs solar powered water infrastructure in South Sudan, one of the worst countries affected by climate-change and where over half of the population is struggling with food insecurity. Their first solar-powered water system, installed in Thiet, Tonj South, supplies 2,000 conflict-affected community members with clean water for household and productive use, and provides 40 acres of farmland with drip-irrigation water systems. Rainmaker Enterprise’s model is underpinned by deep community buy-in and collective responsibility to ensure water security and protection of community resources.

Maggie Schmitz, Division Chief, Private Sector Engagement, Diaspora and Innovation at USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, said, “In a world of finite resources and increasing need, innovation is needed more than ever to promote more effective, sustainable and equitable humanitarian response. In addition, for USAID, elevating the role of local and women-led organizations are key priorities and central to creating an effective, and inclusive humanitarian system.”

Zainah Alsamman, Program Officer for Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge, said, “Humanitarian innovation is not simply about inserting the latest widget or tech developments into fragile systems to solve a problem; it is about extending beyond the technical design of a solution, and understanding, influencing and shaping the critical parts of the system around the problem that requires solving. Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is proud to support Sehat Kahani and Rainmaker Enterprise in their efforts to apply a systems lens to solving complex problems in humanitarian settings.”

Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is one of the few initiatives allocating resources to humanitarian innovators developing solutions and nurturing collaborations that shape local systems around problems they seek to solve.

About Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge
Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership of the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, the U.K Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, 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. This challenge seeks to fund and accelerate solutions that enable life-improving assistance to reach the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people in conflict-generated humanitarian crises.

USAID leads the U.S. government’s international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance. USAID’s objective is to support partners to become self-reliant and capable of leading their own development journeys. We make progress toward this by reducing the reach of conflict, preventing the spread of pandemic disease, and counteracting the drivers of violence, instability, transnational crime and other security threats. We promote American prosperity through investments that expand markets for U.S. exports; create a level playing field for U.S. businesses; and support more stable, resilient, and democratic societies. We stand with people when disaster strikes or crisis emerges as the world leader in humanitarian assistance.

For more information about the SHIFT Prize or awardees, please contact:
Hawa Noor, Associate Communications Officer
Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge
[email protected]