ResilientAfrica Network

Resilience Innovation Acceleration Program (RIAP) Innovation Exhibition at Makerere University

To effectively tap into the existing innovations in the innovation ecosystem, Makerere University School of Public Health - ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) is pleased to announce the Resilience Innovation Acceleration Program (RIAP) which will recognize and support promising and creative ideas from students and faculty at the Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (EA RILab) partner universities as well as the general community of innovation in East Africa. Up to 5 best ideas will receive grants ranging from $7,500 – $15,000 to further develop and refine their ideas. By leveraging creativity of innovators and the power of competition to drive innovation, the RIAP approach provides a great platform for innovators across all disciplines to use their creativity, passion and knowledge to create and bring to scale solutions that will contribute to RAN’s Resilience Innovation agenda. We shall support and catalyze promising technologies or approaches that will contribute to causing positive community change and strengthen resilience.

The Resilience Innovation Acceleration Program (RIAP) Innovations Exhibition will take place on 31st March 2017 at Makerere University Freedom Square from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM EAT.

Download the complete RIAP Document

RIAP 2 Application Template

Applications will be accepted until March 27, 2017. Click here to apply now.

Brief Overview of ResilientAfrica Network (RAN)

The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) is one of the seven global development labs that make up USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN). RAN is led by Makerere University working in partnership with Stanford University and Tulane University. The Network comprises 18 African universities spread over 14 countries. The core objective of RAN is to promote the development and scaling of sustainable, innovative solutions and approaches that can help strengthen the capacities of vulnerable African communities to mitigate, adapt to or recover from natural or man-made shocks and stresses, thereby strengthening their resilience. The Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (RILab) of RAN is located in Makerere University has a mandate to source innovative ideas in line with RAN’s thematic focus from within the academic/general community and support their incubation and piloting.

Download the complete RIAP Document
For more information and to apply, please visit Applicants may email any questions on the call or on any aspect of the application process to or call +256 414 343 597

Development and humanitarian aid to help vulnerable communities have been historically project based. Although these efforts have saved lives they have not sufficiently strengthened resilience in target communities to recurrent shocks and stresses. This is the reason why the same shocks and stresses often result in the same consequences year in year out yet leading to some degree of predictability. Underlying the recurrence of these shocks and stresses or their effects is a myriad of social problems that contribute to the vulnerability to them. RAN seeks to try to break these cycles by tapping into the adaptive capacities of target communities through innovation. A key, therefore, is RAN’s primary goal to identify, develop, pilot, and scale innovations so as to significantly impact the resilience of communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Youth have innovative ideas but lack early and continued support, mentorship, and financial means. This is demotivating to young minds with great potential to tackle communities’ most pressing challenges. At RAN we wish to spark and stimulate an innovation culture among students to support their ideas through the Youth Spark Innovation Grant and provide a platform for students to access support they need such as additional funding, mentorship and visibility among others.

Are you a Student?, an Innovator?, an Entrepreneur?, a Research Scholar? Do you have an innovative idea or approach that fits into the social innovation domain, with the potential to strengthen the resilience of individuals, families, or communities? Youth Spark Innovation Grant – Social Innovation Chapter is a great opportunity for you to step out with your bold idea either individually or as a team and be supported to contribute to strengthening resilience of sub-Saharan African communities. riap grants will particularly seek social innovations that leverage disciplines such as sociology and social work, culture, language, fine art, performance arts, law and rights, gender, medicine and public health, policy and politics, statistics, and population studies to develop solutions for complex development challenges.

According to Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, a social innovation is defined as: ‘A novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions and whose value accrues primarily to society rather than to private individuals’. In the expended definition by RAN, a social innovation targets leverage points within a social system’s conceptual framework of social determinants to transformatively tackle societal challenges. This may be with the use of social technologies but is more commonly through approaches

The RIAP II Call seeks to support individuals with ideas from “all Disciplines” and all training institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to develop and refine their ideas or approaches, as well as, supporting those that already have simple prototypes to refine these further. The areas of Innovation for purposes of this call are described here below.

1. Agriculture

In sub-Saharan African communities, Agriculture supports the survival and well-being of up to 80 Percent of the population. Currently communities experience recurrent shocks arising from climate variability and climate change with high dependence on subsistence agriculture. The yields are meagre and non-diversified, value addition to produce is low, agricultural markets are skewed by irregularities in prices. The result is low income, persistent poverty and no growth. We need to disrupt the status quo, and build the agency of rural farmers. We are looking for low cost, environmentally friendly approaches and technologies to improve agricultural practices, increase agricultural yields of both crop and animal husbandry. We are seeking for novel ideas or approaches that will address the following;

  • Improving land acquisition and utilization including land consolidation for smallholder farmers
  • Access to markets, branding and bulking of agricultural produce for better price negotiation
  • Food sovereignty and security to ensure that food in communities is accessible and healthy for everyone, increased yields to ensure enough produce for homes and markets
  • Use of low cost technologies and ICTs for agriculture as well as access to mechanization

2. Water

The rising demand of growing populations for water puts increasing pressure on land use, water resources and the ecosystem. Such pressures are aggravated by the impact of climate change which is likely to further modify the availability and suitability of these resources, as well as, affect agricultural productivity and livelihoods. We are seeking solutions that will disrupt the inability to manage water resources, wastewater, including water reuse and rainwater harvesting for homes, institutions, and pastoralist communities. We are looking for solutions that will address any of the following

  • Improved access to water
  • Water filtering and purification (e.g house hold water treatment)
  • Proper water resource development, improvement, maintenance and management
  • Water bulking and storage for use in dry seasons
  • Water handling to improve portability
  • Harnessing technologies (e.g sensors) and use of ICTs for water management
  • Energy to drive water generation and rationalization

3. Entrepreneurship

There are challenges of human capital coupled with lack of education and skills and the inability of people to gain employment in skilled or better paying jobs which resulting in high unemployment, over-reliance on social grants and other social safety-nets. Communities are constrained by the lack of entrepreneurial skills and limited access to finance/start-up capital. We are seeking innovative products or services exploiting opportunities and businesses in which communities can actively engage. Models of approaches or technologies for promoting livelihood and entrepreneurial skills in communities could address any of the following

  • Changing attitudes of communities to embrace entrepreneurial activities and businesses
  • New ways of engaging youth and women
  • Promoting optimism and positive outlook on life to pursue business ventures
  • Re – use of existing materials and recycling materials or waste materials into new products to prevent waste and create business opportunities
  • Creative business models to help communities thrive financially
  • Ways of involving youth in profitable business on the web
  • Innovative legal services for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

4. Livelihood Diversification

Communities are highly dependent on restricted types of subsistence farming, especially livestock production, rendering them vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change and climate variability. Adaptation is constrained by limited livelihood options and limited financial inclusion and engagement. We are seeking ideas that will substantially empower communities by diversifying their livelihoods using simple but highly profitable farm and non-farm businesses. Solutions could address any of the following.

  • Improving standards of living and peoples welfare through engaging in diverse income generation activities
  • Creating opportunities for better financial inclusion through savings and access to credit
  • Models for launching profitable businesses that would reduce vulnerability to food insecurity and promote opportunities for increased household incomes
  • Attractive businesses with low investment, low risks and high returns
  • Proposing new ways of breaking dependence on one source of livelihood

5. Health

Communities in sub-Saharan Africa confront the most dramatic health challenges and disasters due to rapid urbanization, climate change manifesting as floods, drought and chronic displacements, and chronic diseases especially HIV/AIDS. We are seeking innovations that will alleviate health concerns among low-resource communities. Innovations may address any of the following;

  • New solutions to control and prevent disease outbreaks and epidemics
  • Easy to use accurate primary care level diagnostics and sensors for common infectious diseases
  • Improved emergency healthcare (e.g Obstetrics care, neonatal care and other emergencies)
  • Innovative approaches on disease prevention
  • Innovative approaches on sanitation and hygiene
  • Low cost optimized toilet solutions for flood prone/high water table areas

6. Gender Based Violence

Gender based violence causes physical trauma and long lasting mental health problems and can be financially devastating as trauma may negatively affect productivity of the affected persons. It can lead to social stigmatization; it may be the cause of retaliations and sometimes death. These are only a few consequences of violence that victims have to deal with every day. Gender based violence remains comparatively invisible and underestimated. Because of cultural constraints and the strong feelings of shame and fear engendered by violence, most victims do not dare come forward to seek help. This only adds to the devastating effects on the survivors, their families, and communities. Constraints and obstacles notwithstanding, immediate and appropriate action must be taken on the basis of systematic and thorough assessments to respond to the multifaceted needs of victims of gender based violence. We are seeking for innovative approaches and ideas to address any of the following;

  • On the spot GBV reporting mechanisms
  • Innovative approaches for the mitigation of drug abuse and alcoholism
  • Mindsets and cultural beliefs (e.g women who believe myths that marital affection should be expressed in forms of violence)
  • Innovative follow-up and support mechanisms for victims of gender based violence
  • i. Innovative sensitization channels, empowerment, and implementation of policies
  • Innovative legal approaches to address GBV and violence against women and girls

7. Financial Inclusion

Individuals living in communities that are faced with chronic conflict are disproportionately trapped into chronic poverty. Some of these communities have an abundance of minerals and other natural resources which also serve as the source and catalysts for chronic conflicts in the EA RILab region. As such, some of the citizens do rely on humanitarian aid/assistance, whereas, others depend on one or a narrow range of livelihood options such as subsistence farming. This dependency on aid and limited choice of livelihood results in limited incomes and consequently chronic poverty. Low financial inclusion, coupled with a pervasive culture of not saving for investment, further drives most communities into deeper levels of poverty. Many communities also depend on subsistence farming with little or no diversification of livelihoods. We are interested in technologies and approaches that create and foster a culture that reduces consumerism and improves savings and access to credit. We are also targeting ideas that provide alternative sources of livelihoods for the target communities. Examples of proposals include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Models that simplify saving in commercial and/or rural banks for rural farmers
  • Novel technologies, approaches, or platforms to facilitate saving among smallholder farmers
  • Models, approaches, or technologies that channel savings directly to predetermined low risk investments
  • New and disruptive forms of currency that can be channeled into savings
  • Innovative models and approaches for risk mitigation through risk transfer that are accessible by rural communities
  • Innovative credit products/services for smallholder farmers (Credit ‘circles’ for the future)
  • Disruptive mechanisms for overcoming traditional barriers to accessing credit in rural communities
  • New and disruptive forms of currency that can be channeled into credit payments
  • Innovative solutions for overcoming non-compliance to credit repayments to ensure
  • continuity of village micro-credit facilities while maintaining farmer confidence
  • Financial literacy programming for underserved communities
  • Programs to support SMEs to access or manage capital

8. Psychosocial

Psychological issues have become prominent and require a robust holistic & sustainable response at the family, community, and within society at large. Psychosocial issues need to be looked at beyond the clinical perspective to include a focus on change of mindsets. There should be mindset change from reliance on government (for support) to embracing socio-economic opportunities through community engagement in productive ventures. This may subsequently increase productivity and consequently lead to reduced crime and suicidal cases. This will enhance self-reliance, psychological wellbeing, food sovereignty, and increased resilience. For instance, in northern Uganda, the region has experienced a slow economic recovery after a long standing 20-year chronic conflict resulting in encampment, high dependency syndrome, non-viable coping strategies such as alcohol brewing for income, and low levels of community engagement in productive ventures. There are high levels of crime and suicidal cases. Similarly, the high influx of Congolese refugees into the camps of Kigeme and Gihembe in Rwanda creates a high tension on the existing social services such as healthcare, access to water and good sanitation, food security and nutrition, education, and housing. There are also cases of sexual and GBV, low agriculture production, and issues related to child protection. Examples of proposals include (but are not limited to) the following;

  • Novel technologies, approaches, or platforms that harness social activities to improve psychosocial wellbeing. For instance, how might we leverage music, dance, and drama and other forms of multimedia or sports to improve communities from the negative psychosocial effects resulting from armed conflicts?
  • Approaches to regulate alcohol (especially local brew) production and consumption
  • Platforms that offer life skills (entrepreneurship networking information)
  • Early diagnostics investment in modern medicine, and regulation of traditional medicine and folk practices.

9. Governance

Most of the current judicial systems are faced with a huge concern of transparency. The current land tenures are not favorable to the local community whose main source of livelihoods is subsistence farming. The chronic conflict in northern Uganda has led to massive displacements of people into camps. On return, there were no clear boundaries of the land leaving behind a generation of young people who had no idea of the boundaries. This created many land disputes as people were claiming the same piece of land. In DRC, although the communities are faced by chronic conflict which has a linkage to minerals, the major source of livelihoods is agriculture. Other causes of land conflicts include lack of documentation as the true land owners and poor land tenure systems among other. There is an urgent need to influence the land policy reforms. Innovative ideas may focus on building the community’s capacity to engage their leaders and civil servants on pertinent issues through advocacy and/or dialogue in community and leaders. Examples of proposals include (but are not limited to) the following;

  • Platforms that engage the local and central governments tailored to promote government accountability, transparency, and responsiveness to the needs of the local communities.
  • Innovative art projects that meaningfully engage with issues of advocacy, justice, and community-building. The ideas may use an array of multimedia- visual/conceptual art, photography, videography, music, dance, theatre/performance art, creative writing, or other forms keeping the context of the target communities in mind.
  • Technologies or platforms for settling disputes (such as land wrangles, e.t.c) among individuals or communities in a manner that promotes community cohesion.
  • New communication channels that bring to the table the voice of the minority
  • How do we propose new frameworks for citizen participation when it comes to discussing issues that concern policy? Citizenship participation in the policy process (‘Bottom-up approach’) is crucial

This exhibition will provide an opportunity for students, faculty and local innovators (general community) to showcase their innovations, and for RAN to identify promising innovations that can be accelerated through RAN’s Resilience Innovation Acceleration Program at the EA RILab. The exhibition is open to innovators who meet the following requirements/criteria:

  • The call is open to ANY faculty member or student innovator or local Innovator; including recent graduates
  • ALL disciplines are eligible to participate as RAN has adopted a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving.
  • Innovations should clearly demonstrate their potential to strengthen/build the resilience of communities to natural and/or man-made stresses and shocks.
  • Innovations can be in form of ‘technologies’ or ‘approaches’, and there should be a demonstrable proof of concept for the solution/approach.
  • Innovations that build on indigenous/traditional knowledge are particularly interesting from RAN’s perspective of building sustainable solutions with a high adoption potential in the local communities.

(a) Eligibility Screening: Level 1 judging

Once the application period closes, all applications will undergo an initial screening for eligibility to participate at the exhibition. In order to be eligible for the exhibition, an idea should have been developed to at least a plausible concept or simple prototype that is ready for development into a refined testable prototype or concept. Thus, the innovators to be shortlisted for exhibition must verify availability of a prototype (either rough or refined) to be showcased at the exhibition. The shortlisted teams will be contacted and invited to the exhibition.

(b) Exhibition: Level 2 judging

This will involve a first/initial panel of judges who will go across the exhibition stalls, independently listening to the pitches and scoring the innovations using a set criterion (see Annex 1a: Evaluation Criteria). At the end of the exhibition, the panel will evaluate and name the top 10 exhibitors/innovations. These 10 innovations/teams will thereafter be invited to make a final pitch which will be conducted at RAN offices.

(c) Final Pitching at RAN: Level 3 judging

In this final round of judging, the ten shortlisted innovations will be pitched to a second panel of judges who will select the final list of innovations to be supported under RIAP II (see Annex 1b: Evaluation Criteria).

At both level 2 and 3 judging, the Judging Panel will be responsible for evaluating applications for alignment with RAN’s theory of change with respect to strengthening resilience to shocks and stresses arising out of climate change and chronic conflict. The Judging Panel will be comprised of highly qualified and impartial judges with expertise in line with RAN’s areas of innovation for this call (i.e. agriculture, water, entrepreneurship, livelihood diversification, health, gender based violence, financial inclusion, psychosocial health and governance) , resilience building, development programming, business modeling, and user-centered design approaches.

The Judging Panel will also be drawn from various sectors including academia, civil society organizations, the private sector, public sector, development partners and USAID/Uganda Mission representatives. RAN and USAID retain the sole and absolute discretion to declare the finalists and award all grants in this call. Any such decision may not be challenged by any entrant. All members of the Judging Panel will sign Non-Disclosure Agreements and Conflict of Interest Forms, as well as statements acknowledging that they make no personal claim to the intellectual property developed by Teams or relevant partners.

The general objective of the second round of RIAP is to identify and bring to scale high impact innovations that improve production, take more control of the agricultural value chain, and to diversify to profitable enterprises, in ways that are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. The specific objectives of the call are:
  • To transform communities affected by climate change and chronic conflict through promotion of education, skills development and entrepreneurship so as to create a vibrant, optimistic and independent community
  • To transform rural agricultural processes so as to increase efficiency of production and post-harvest handling of produce, in ways that are green and sustainable.
  • To improve agricultural practices through increasing agricultural production, reducing post-harvest losses, as well as, the promotion of agricultural value addition.
  • To increase financial inclusion through newer, robust models and currencies for saving, access to credit, and risk transfer.
  • To improve on the existing governance systems through justice, civic engagement, transparency, and accountability in communities affected by chronic conflict.

Benefits to the winning teams

Inclusion into RAN’s Resilience Innovation Acceleration Program, where teams will receive:
  • Technical support and guidance*
  • Mentorship and Business Coaching
  • Linkages to innovators and mentors within the HESN
  • Linkages to local, regional, and international expertise and contacts
  • Some financial support to further develop and pilot the solution or approach towards scaling
  • *Technical support includes close guidance from our research team. Our expert research team is currently conducting quantitative and qualitative studies on climate variability, chronic conflict and resilience in Eastern Africa. The findings and results from these studies will closely support innovation development, implementation, and ultimately evaluate innovation impact and success.

RIAP Time Lines

Activity Date
Call open for applications 1st to 27th March 2017
Shortlisting exhibitors 27th - 28th March 2017
Exhibition 31st March 2017
Pitching at RAN April 2017
Award April 2017

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