Seven innovations pave the way to Zero Hunger in a time of climate crisis

Meet our latest cohort of start-ups striving to create a future without hunger. Register here to attend the WFP Pitch Event on 30 November 2022.

By Sanjna Sudan

Climate Innovations can build sustainable food systems of the future. Illustration by Sanjna Sudan

In a world that is 2°C warmer than pre-industrial times, with at least 189 million more people at risk of becoming food insecure, the climate crisis is compounding social tensions and economic instability. This negatively impacts food systems and is pushing millions of people into poverty and on the brink of starvation.

Earlier this year, the WFP Innovation Challenge called for disruptive innovations that strengthen climate change adaptation and resilience.

After a competitive selection process, seven teams from a pool of 822 applications have been selected to participate in WFP ’s 48th Innovation Bootcamp from 21 to 25 November 2022. WFP Innovation Bootcamps are five-day, high-intensity workshops to help teams dive deep into challenges, ideate solutions, and refine project plans. On 30 November, the teams will also get the chance to pitch their ideas during the WFP Pitch Event.

As world leaders gather at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) this month, we are excited to introduce our latest cohort of startups driving climate action. Learn more about the participating teams and check out their innovative solutions below:

Aumsat

Aumsat provides services for detecting, predicting, and forecasting underground water resources without having to be physically present on the field.

Globally, 89 percent of groundwater is used for irrigation activities. However, finding the right source of clean underground water with speed and accuracy is an enormous challenge.

Aumsat uses an algorithm that detects and penetrates into 60 m of dry soil to detect subsurface water through radar satellite images.

Fonio

Fonio is a food processing machine that speeds up the processing of fonio, a crop that grows in West Africa.

As crises and conflicts multiply, their global effects are being felt hard in the Sahel and West Africa, where more than 38 million people are facing acute food insecurity. The impacts of the war in Ukraine and growing food prices may push an additional 7 to 10 million people to rely on food assistance.

Fonio is a nutritious and climate change resistant staple crop that recently suffered a decline in production due to the difficulties of processing it by hand. The Fonio team offers a machine that can process fonio thirty times faster coupled with innovative training that supports young people to develop agricultural skills.

Photo: Rolex Awards/Fatoumata Diebaté

Blue Marble

Blue Marble is an innovative agriculture insurance technology solution that enables access to insurance for people facing food insecurity.

Low-income food producers worldwide are being affected by climate change, which lowers their income and food security. Traditional insurance schemes available in the market tend to be expensive and inefficient.

Blue Marble’s AgSuite solution provides quick, agile, and automatic parametric and index-based products (e.g. rainfall index) for insurers and distributors. It also enables its users to access international risk capital. Blue Marble aims to improve climate resilience and bridge the protection gap for people that lack access to insurance services.

Etherisc

Etherisc offers blockchain-enabled, affordable, and accessible crop insurance.

Smallholder farmers are among the most food insecure people due to climate risks.

Agricultural insurance has proven to build the financial resilience of agricultural communities worldwide. However, even though farmers are willing to pay for insurance, they are unable to afford the high premiums that provide sufficient coverage.

Etherisc’s smart contract platform on the blockchain lowers transaction costs and makes payouts faster, affordable, and transparent. During an extreme weather event, policies are automatically triggered on the technology platform, which facilitates timely (24 hours to 5 days) and fair pay-outs.

Photo: Etherisc/Michiel Berende

Emerging Cooking Solutions

The Emerging Cooking Solutions project offers a stove that runs on local agro-waste.

In rural areas, firewood is the main source of cooking fuel. However, exposure to smoke from biomass-based cooking leads to health problems such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. The demand for firewood results in deforestation and environmental degradation, while the cost of wood and charcoal remains relatively high for the local community.

Emerging Cooking Solutions’ uses local agricultural waste and an innovative flexible-fuel stove as a clean and affordable fuel alternative. This technology reduces emissions, enhances efficiency, heat-range, and reduces cooking time. The stoves can be largely paid for by carbon credits.

MegaGas

MegaGas recycles plastic waste to produce clean and affordable cooking gas.

The use of charcoal and wood as fuel for cooking contributes to indoor air pollution, a serious health hazard that causes the deaths of more than 4 million people worldwide annually. The world produces about 300 million tonnes of plastic each year, and a staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans yearly.

MegaGas recycles plastic waste to produce clean and affordable cooking gas for underserved communities in Kenya. The gas is cheaper, cleaner, and has a higher calorific value. Additionally, MegaGas contributes to the circular economy by closing the plastic waste management loop through recycling and reusing plastic as a source of clean energy.

Photo: MegaGas/Peter Kamau

Africa GreenTec AG

Africa GreenTec (AGT) offers a solar-powered cooling storage unit. The lack of infrastructure and services has massive effects on food security and livelihoods in rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this region, 40 percent of the post-harvest food produce is lost due to the lack of cooling storage. This has negative impacts on the income and nutritional status of smallholder farmers and their communities.

Africa GreenTec has developed the ‘Cooltainer’, a transportable, affordable, solar powered cooling unit produced regionally, in Dakar, Senegal.

The Cooltainer enables storage of up to 120 boxes of fresh produce. It creates employment opportunities for women (two people per unit to run the units) The use of this technology results in the reduction of 11 tonnes of CO2 emissions, saving 306 tonnes of fresh produce per unit per year.

Photo: Africa GreenTec

Register here to attend this exciting WFP Pitch Event virtually on 30 November 2022 and get to know the teams behind these innovations.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports, and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies, and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support, and WFP operations.

WFP Innovation Bootcamp is an opportunity for teams to ideate further and refine their solutions to become field-ready. Over the course of a week, they will participate in workshops and one-on-one mentorship with industry experts on user research, human-centered design, prototyping, market access, and other areas.

Find out more about us: http://innovation.wfp.org. Subscribe to our e-newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and watch our videos on YouTube.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
WFP Innovation Accelerator

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.