Hunger is one of the most enduring challenges facing most countries across the globe with about 2 billion struggling to access regular nutritious meals. Recent data provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), paints a worrying picture of the multitudes of people exposed to hunger and malnutrition.
It revealed that 144 million (21.3%) of children under 5 years are stunted, 47 million (6.9%) wasted and 38.3 million (5.6%) overweight. Underdeveloped countries majority of which are based in Africa are the hardest hit.
It is this gloomy scenario that prompted Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), announced a new funding for innovations to improve food security and nutrition.
AESA is a funding and programme management initiative created in 2015 through a resolution of the summit of African Union Heads of governments. It is a partnership of different agenda-setting entities which include the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and other funding global partners.
To fund innovations that will contribute to food security and nutrition, AESA has teamed up with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). According to AESA, the successful innovations should promote sustainable access to safe, nutritious and adequate food that lead to healthy and productive lives under the Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) programme.
GC Africa seeks to promote Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries fulfil their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by awarding seed and full grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. Up to $100,000 will be awarded to each successful project for two years to spearhead innovations.
Said Dr Moses Alobo, Grand Challenges Africa, programme manager: “This call addresses the funding gap, seeks solutions that present ideas with potential to create long-lasting impact for individuals, families, communities, farmers, service providers and decision makers. We are also interested in innovations addressing components of food infrastructure, networks, and systems.”
This is the 12th call issued by the GC Africa programme since the launch of the Grand Challenges Africa Innovation Grants in 2015. The fund will be awarded to innovations that, among others:
- Address food security and nutrition gaps whilst responding to climate change needs.
- Catalyse application of technologies, innovations and agribusinesses to achieve food security and nutrition targets.
- Solve cross-cutting issues that promote food security and nutrition.
- Promote achievement of the nutrition and health targets of the African Union.
- Provide solutions that result in sustainable commercialization and production of indigenous foods.
“Achieving food security will require careful thought to effective approaches that ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to eliminating hunger, safeguarding food security and better nutrition as well as promoting sustainable agriculture. This especially with consideration of the devastating socio-economic and health effects of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The funding hopes to address urgent gaps to provide effective and resilient innovations to safeguard safe and nutritious food for all and especially for the most vulnerable,” said Markus Moll, Research Advisor with Sida Sweden.
Food security and nutrition feature prominently on the African Science, Technology and Innovation Priorities (ASP) programme and are part of the body’s nine priorities. Over a five-year period, the programme will be developing, publishing and disseminating to relevant stakeholders, a set of policy papers and briefs communicating the top scientific priorities for Africa.
ASP is co-ordinated by AESA and AUDA-NEPAD and convenes scientific leaders in Africa and policy makers to review their SDGs priorities. Some of these priorities are the African Union Agenda 2063, Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024) and National Development Plans. The intention is to help build consensus among the leaders in terms of which top priorities will give African countries their greatest return on investment and the competitive edge on the global stage.
In June 2020, AESA convened a diverse group of experts from across Africa to deliberate on research and development priorities to achieve food security and nutrition targets in Africa. The meeting highlighted the need to provide funding targeted at food security and nutrition. A survey conducted later in July-August 2020 further underscored the need for these priorities from leading stakeholders around the continent.
Interested applicants should apply through the AAS Online Grants Management System and directed to Collete Adhiambo at: email@example.com.