Beyond Boundaries: The 2023 South South Triangular Cooperation Innovation Challenge Drives Innovation to Disrupt Hunger
In a significant partnership this past April, the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) Unit joined forces with the WFP Innovation Accelerator in Munich to introduce the inaugural 2023 SSTC Innovation Challenge.
By Alesia Rakuts, Katherine Gaylord and Miranda Stobbs
The 2023 South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) Innovation Challenge embodies a drive to harness the collective innovation of nations in the Global South that can contribute to some of the priority areas related to WFP’s mandate, namely, Sustainable Development Goal 2 — Zero Hunger. It aims to boost low-income countries’ responses to global food crises, fortify national systems, and establish WFP as a credible SSTC intermediary in the humanitarian-development realm.
The call for applications focused on four thematic areas: social protection, resilience building, climate adaptation, and emergency preparedness and response (EPR).
Out of over 40 applications from 27 country offices, the following innovative solutions emerged as winners of the SSTC Innovations Challenge:
Digitalized Drought Emergency Warning System, Kenya
Digitalized Drought Early Warning System (DDEWS) aims to save lives and reduce the economic impact of drought.
By digitalizing DDEWS, governments can take early action and provide necessary support to vulnerable communities while enhancing their capacities to anticipate drought. DDEWS seeks to expedite early warning, early action and the implementation of anticipatory measures before vulnerable communities are affected by drought.
The innovation aims to benefit approximately 4.4 million people identified as being in need of humanitarian assistance. It is expected to reduce the cost of collecting paper-based questionnaires and data entry manpower by almost 50 per cent while increasing data quality through consistency checks.
Solar 4 Resilience, India
The Solar 4 Resilience (S4R) initiative aims to scale up the use of affordable solar-based food processing technologies for building resilience and livelihoods of women and smallholder farmers.
The innovation looks to provide women farmers with affordable solar-drying technology to process and dry perishable food, thus reducing post-harvest losses. Additionally, it aims to support women farmers in transitioning into micro-entrepreneurs assisting them with obtaining low-interest loans from local banks to purchase the equipment.
Monitoring Platform of Midday Meal, Nepal
The innovation aims to improve and expand the coverage of the monitoring platform for national midday meals.
The monitoring platform is a digital, cost-effective and user-friendly tool which enables municipalities in Nepal to monitor the daily delivery and quality of school meals while also tracking students’ attendance. Its purpose is to ensure the nutritional and educational well-being of students. The monitoring platform uses Short Message Service (SMS) as a cost-effective, paperless and easily implemented solution to monitor the Midday Meals programme in remote areas that also facilitates real-time programme adjustment.
Thanks to its low cost and minimal connectivity requirements, the platform can be replicated in remote areas with limited funding.
Nourishing Futures Empowering Women, Democratic Republic of Congo
The innovation aims to improve school feeding programmes and empower communities in the country through an innovative self-financing model: Nourishing Futures — Empowering Women and Building Resilient Communities through School Meals.
This model emphasizes sustainable agricultural farming as an income source, aiming to ensure the autonomy and sustainability of school meals, supporting both the canteen and community development models. Recognizing the power of women in driving change within their communities the innovation targets empowering women entrepreneurs by providing access to a sustainable source of income and promoting women’s economic independence and decision-making capacity.
The innovation not only addresses the gender inequalities prevalent in education but also enhances community resilience and women’s empowerment.
The 4 champions of the Innovation Challenge embarked on a 7-week SSTC Acceleration Programme designed by the Innovation Accelerator. The Acceleration Programme was comprised of 3 workshops with plenaries comprised of experts presenting on mutual interests and tailored mentoring sessions. The teams benefited from the Innovative Accelerator’s expertise, tools and connections with the global innovation community (including external expert/mentor support) to provide a personalized pool of services to help host governments scale up innovations.
The workshops focused on scaling up the initiatives, bringing human-centred design methodology into action and leveraging business storytelling for fundraising and partnership building to support the winning teams to refine, package solutions and prepare to share their solutions with another country of the Global South in phase II of the initiative.
After completing the virtual bootcamp, the winning teams have been granted USD 30,000 to be used to turn newly acquired knowledge into action and refine the packaging of the solution, generate additional evidence on the solution’s effectiveness/efficiency/replicability and further fine-tune it.
During the last plenary session of the Acceleration Programme, David Kaatrud, Director of Programme — Humanitarian and Development (PRO) Division, expressed his gratitude to the teams for their participation in the 2023 SSTC Innovation Challenge and ensured PRO would continue their support going forward:
“My team and I are excited about the potential impact of your efforts as part of the programme. In order to fully capitalize on your innovations, we would like to support you to tap into the various options available to bring visibility to your solutions and diversify funding for the next phase”.
As the next steps, the 2023 SSTC Innovation Challenge champions will share their solutions with other countries of the Global South. Armed with their refined solutions, they will support the adaptation of the solution to the recipient country context, provide follow-up to ensure the solution take-up is integrated into the broader recipient country capacity strengthening efforts and develop communication and knowledge management materials to document results and lessons learned.