The first-ever WFP-X moonshot launchpad for urban food security in Dar es Salaam

WFP Innovation Accelerator
3 min readOct 1, 2020

“The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” — Peter Diamandis, X Prize

by Fiona Huang, Asia Sultan, and Kyriacos Koupparis.

Is it possible to dream up 100 audacious moonshot solutions to problems within urban food systems; solutions that are grounded in data, science, and credible technological advancements? WFP-X is setting this goal. Launched by WFP Innovation Hub Tanzania and the WFP Innovation Accelerator, WFP-X is the World Food Programme’s first ever exploration of moonshot innovation for urban food security in megacities of the future — starting with Dar es Salaam.

From August to December, we are taking a new approach in generating ten ambitious moonshot ideas to radically reshape the future of urban food systems. WFP-X is developing the capacity to innovate on longer-term horizons, a process known as moonshot innovation. The moonshot approach has been mastered by a handful of companies driving innovation.

Speaking at the virtual launch event held on Zoom in late August, Wendy Bigham, WFP Deputy Tanzania Country Representative, had this to say:

”Dar es Salaam and the megacities of the future could have food security issues that do not exist today. Our goal is to understand and shape the future of food systems anticipating the solutions before the problems exist. Moonshot innovations will change the landscape of food security for those most vulnerable.”

Dar es Salaam is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with its population expected to increase by 60% by 2030. In fact, the population is expected to grow so much that Dar es Salaam is expected to be the second largest city by population in the world by 2100, with a predicted population of 76 million. This rapid growth presents challenges in food security and access to a balanced and nutritious diet. Meeting that demand over the next decades, while strengthening the dimensions of availability, access, utilization, stability, agency and sustainability, will require solutions beyond current capabilities or incremental improvements.

How does it work?

Moonshots are not just about process; moonshots are about people. WFP-X has carefully assembled a diverse team of experts in the future of food systems including urban planning, water systems, food production and processing, nutrition, waste management, electrical engineering, design, software engineering, and behavioural science. Along with these innovators are teams from WFP’s Innovation Hub in Dar es Salaam and WFP Innovation Acceleration in Munich who co-lead, co-manage and support the innovators throughout the process.

A core team of advisors and mentors representing an array of public and private sector professionals are dedicated to the innovation process. Providing inspiration and guidance, they also help to falsify the innovators’ ideas.

Over the next months, the innovators are going on a four-phase journey: cultivating a deep understanding of the complex problem of urban food security in Dar es Salaam; employing a future-back visioning approach to help identify what to build toward 2030; and dreaming up 100 audacious moonshot solutions grounded in data, science, and credible technological advancements within the required time frame.

WFP’s Tanzania Innovation Hub and the Innovation Accelerator would like to thank the Government of Luxembourg for supporting this project exploring innovative solutions to urban food security around the world.

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.

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WFP Innovation Accelerator

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