The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Sweden have announced a new grant opportunity called ‘Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development Competition’ and NGOs around the world are invited to apply for it.
This funding competition has been designed to address barriers to enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution. Through this competition, Securing Water for Food anticipates disbursing $15 million USD in award funding. Individual awards are expected to be between $100,000 USD and $3,000,000 USD depending on the type of funding requested. The period of performance for individual awards is up to three years; the actual period of performance for each award will be determined at the time of award.
The Grand Challenges for Development (GCD) Program of the USAID (organized in partnership with partners) seeks to source, select and accelerate science, technology and business model innovations that can lead to achieving large-scale development impact.
The objective of Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development is to enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution in developing and emerging countries. It is jointly funded by USAID and the Government of Sweden.
Under this program, USAID is seeking innovations that will improve water availability and efficiency along the food value chain, thus boosting food security, alleviating poverty, and stimulating inclusive growth. Innovators can come from anywhere in the world, but implementation must take place in a developing or emerging country. Through Securing Water for Food, it is hoping to increase both the demand for and availability of innovative water technologies and approaches; increase adoption of those innovations at multiple levels (from small scale farms to large corporations); and improve the sustainability of innovations through robust partnerships and business-to-business relationships.
The goals of the ‘Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development Competition’ is to to source and accelerate innovations in the following areas that will enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.
Water Efficiency and Reuse – especially targeted at the food value chain. This will become a greater necessity as water availability is threatened by competition between industrial, agricultural, and energy uses. Improving water efficiency and reuse has tremendous potential water-saving benefits that may have multiplier effects at various levels of a country’s economy.
Water Capture and Storage. These systems are in high demand in many regions where rain occurs at limited times. With projected increases in rainfall variability due to climate change and increased demands for food production, capture and storage systems at various scales are needed to secure water supplies throughout the year and build resiliency to drought and floods.
Salinity and Salt Water Intrusion. In coastal areas, overpumping and rising sea levels are leading to saltwater intrusion, forcing farmers to use marginal quality water for irrigation. With more than 30% of the world’s population living in coastal areas and drawing food supply from fertile deltas, urgent solutions are required to reduce the impacts of salinity on the quality of aquifers and food production.
The focus areas of the Program are improved technologies for irrigation, real-time water quantity and quality monitoring, post-harvest water demand reduction, salinity reduction, agricultural innovations that have a clear and direct impact on water usage, and other water re-use/efficiency/storage activities within the food value chain. The competition will also support business and financial innovations that enable the increased dissemination and adoption of relevant science and technology solutions; for example, new distribution models or payment schemes. Innovations in areas that are not described here but that address one of the focus areas above are welcome.
Some of the cross-cutting issues that can be included are:
The lack of cost-appropriate technologies for use in low-resource settings;
Insufficient user-centered design in technology development;
Poorly developed supply chains;
Lack of distribution networks;
High up-front investment costs;
Lack of confidence that developing and emerging countries have the market mechanisms necessary for growth;
Absence of proper financing tools;
Limited access to information that would enable entrepreneurs to make informed investment, management, and marketing decisions; and
Insufficient information and training to farmers and other end users regarding how to use available technologies/innovations.
As this funding opportunity is focused on innovations, this call for proposals is specifically interested to support the following:
Stage 1 – Market-driven product/business development: These innovations have been verified through a standalone pilot or a series of pilots and now need to be tested and adapted for adoption in new developing or emerging countries. These innovations may require technical validation and proof of adoption/uptake in a new market.
Stage 2 – Scaling/Commercial Growth: These are established innovations that have already demonstrated a viable business model and are generating revenue. They require support for commercial growth, including adaptation of the innovation for larger scale production, market adoption, and distribution. It is expected that these innovations have already demonstrated technical feasibility and market acceptance and can provide evidence supporting these points.
Initially, only concept notes have to submitted and the shortlisted applicants will later be invited to submit full proposals.
Concept note should cover the following sections and address the questions given below each of the sections:
Innovation (Technical) Viability
a) What is your innovation? What is transformative or “game-changing” about it? Why is there an urgent need for your innovation? How does your innovation differ from existing products on the market?
b) What is/are the specific critical barrier(s) or problem(s) – related to water for food security – that your innovation addresses?
c) Has this innovation been piloted (yes/no)? Where? What were the results of the pilot?
d) What are the key, quantifiable metrics related to your innovation’s performance or expected performance (e.g. total increased installed storage capacity (cubic meters); liters of water saved or used per hectare of land)?
Application and Sustainability in Developing or Emerging Country(ies)
a) How might this innovation engage or benefit (directly or indirectly) the poor as innovators, employees, suppliers, distributors, and/or consumers?
b) Describe your expected end-users. Who are they and how might end users need to modify their existing practices or behaviors to use your product or service?
c) Describe the social, environmental, institutional, legal and regulatory challenges your innovation faces that may prevent its scale-up. How do you propose to overcome those barriers?
d) Who is/are your local partner(s)? Who are other potential partners (be specific about partners; e.g. provide names and type of organization, not just categories)?
a) Describe the demand for your innovation. In what country/region/market are you proposing to expand with Securing Water for Food funding? What is the total addressable market and potential market share for your innovation? What is the basis for your claim?
b) Describe the financial model. Provide a unit cost analysis. For technology innovations, how much does it cost to produce, store, and sell one unit of this innovation? For business model innovations, what must be spent to offer this specific service including the number of times the service is offered, the salaries of those employed to deliver the service, and any materials used to deliver the service? What is your price per unit? If applying for Stage 2, describe the sales and distribution model.
c) Describe key elements of your go-to-market strategy in the country(ies) in which you propose to work. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities?
d) What are your expected sources of matching funds and/or in-kind contributions?