WFP’s Innovation Challenge sourced ideas to strengthen local food security and support livelihoods

By Linda Nyemba

Past participants at an in-person WFP innovation bootcamp in Munich. Photo: WFP/Paul Guenther

With the support of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and in collaboration with the Innovation Hub at the WFP Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa based in Nairobi, the WFP Innovation Accelerator is wrapping up its 2020 bootcamp season by delivering its 32nd innovation bootcamp — virtually of course given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dialing in from Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Turkey, India, Bangladesh and Canada, the ten teams have been selected from a WFP Innovation Challenge pool of a record-setting 793 applications from 95 countries around the world. As previous innovation bootcamps, the focus is on bold solutions that address the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger (SDG 2) by 2030. However, for this WFP Innovation Challenge, the priority area was expanded to include startups that tackle solutions that are relevant in the current COVID-19 context as well as enabling poor and vulnerable populations to sustainably change their lives.

Over the course of the bootcamp, the teams will join on a journey of ideation, project design, and innovation. Check out the teams and their ideas below:

1. Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise

Iron Deficiency Anemia is one of the world’s largest nutritional challenges. The Lucky Iron Fish is a low-dose nutritional supplement that is added to the cooking process. This is an easy and accessible iron supplementation method, which brings significant cost savings to the households who otherwise would need to pay for supplements.

2. Voice to text AI

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the traditional way of collecting programmatic dietary data in-person from beneficiaries based in remote areas. The proposed solution is an open-sourced AI-powered, phone-based, dietary diversity survey tool to continue implementing the Fresh Food Voucher programme.

3. FLYING COW

During disasters and crises, telecommunication networks are often destroyed resulting in communication challenges for humanitarian responders. COW is a tethered drone solution that aims to address the limited hotspot-based connectivity during emergencies and replacing the need for handheld radio network.

4. Network Fresh

Network Fresh is a B2C marketplace mobile app using the surplus food of restaurants, cafes and hotels to reduce food waste, overcome food insecurity, and improve nutrition.

5. Tiny Totos

Improving informal daycares in Kenya can transform a range of lives from communities to a child’s nutritional wellness. Tiny Totos is a social enterprise which provides a network of entrepreneurs the tools, trainings and support to elevate the services of informal daycares.

6. Food ATM

The in-kind humanitarian sector faces multiple challenges when serving beneficiaries including discrepancy between actual entitlements distributed and hygienic concerns. Using the concept of ATMs and biometrics, Food ATM dispenses food instead of money, and aims to boost the beneficiary experience by creating easier access to food and reducing health risks.

7. Kuza One

Kuza One is a digital platform focused on empowering smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia. By providing access to training, mentorship and a network of agripreneurs, the platform aims to improve the productivity, resilience and income of smallholder farmers.

8. Earn Money When Eating Healthy

With Social Safety Nets shifting more and more to providing cash to support its recipients, a question arises on how to incentivize people to invest in nutritious food despite competing purchasing priorities. The team tackling this challenge is ideating an app to track that Social Safety Nets are being used towards specific food groups and, in return, recipients could be offered cash back.

9. Eco-Friendly Cold Storage

Especially in areas prone to warmer climates, fruits and vegetables sold at open air markets are at high risk of becoming quickly perishable leading to food waste. The team is aiming to build a sustainable storage solution using zero-energy brick coolers and evaporative charcoal coolers; an off-grid refrigeration innovation that can extend shelf life of fresh food for retailers and traders.

10. AflaSight

Maize is heavily affected by the invisible carcinogen aflatoxin. The presence of aflatoxin leads to poor health in consumers and financial loss for smallholder farmers. AflaSight combines cutting-edge, first of its kind machine technology with strategic market operations to provide large-scale cleaning of maize affected by aflatoxin.

Follow each project’s progress at the WFP Innovation Accelerator’s bootcamp , from 30 November — 4 December 2020, on Twitter @WFPInnovation.

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.

Find out more about us: http://innovation.wfp.org

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