BANGKOK, MARCH 30 — From building floating houses and flood-resilient roads to protecting coasts by restoring fishponds, 12 projects aimed at tackling water-related problems in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities will share $10 million to make their ideas a reality.
The winners of the Water Window Challenge, whittled from nearly 400 entries, will work over the next 18 months to help communities in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South and Southeast Asia deal with floods and drought. The goal is to reduce the human toll and economic damage.
The challenge was organized jointly by the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) and Z Zurich Foundation, the charitable arm of Zurich Insurance, one of Europe’s largest insurers, which provided the funding. Luca Alinovi, Nairobi-based executive director of GRP, who was in Bangkok to meet the winners, noted that floods are the biggest driver of weather-related humanitarian crises around the world. “We wanted to find solutions that not only help to manage it better but to transform it into an opportunity for a more prosperous life,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Flooding accounts for nearly half of all weather-related disasters, affecting more than 2.3 billion people in the past 20 years, 95 percent of whom live in Asia, according to the GRP. The 12 water challenge winners were chosen for ideas that are innovative, easy to scale up, adjustable and likely to deliver concrete outcomes, Alinovi added.
They include the University of Waterloo, which is adapting low-cost amphibious homes used in flood-prone areas of the U.S. state of Louisiana for the Mekong Delta. The Danish Refugee Council’s proposal, meanwhile, will help refugees in northwest Kenya cope with recurring droughts and floods using techniques including a mobile phone-based warning system and fast-maturing, hazard-resistant crops.
The projects will be rolled out in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The GRP was set up by The Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. government’s development arm USAID and the Swedish poverty reduction agency SIDA. (@alebal)