Water Window Challenge winners announced

One of the winners, Seacology, aims to build the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities against floods in Sri Lanka

Twelve projects have been announced as the Water Window Challenge Winners, and will share a US$10 million competition pool to tackle flooding in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The Z Zurich Foundation have partnered with the Global Resilience Partnership to support the Global Resilience Challenge Water Window addressing resilience issues of flood prone communities in the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, and sees up to US$1 million awarded to teams offering innovative solutions.

“For the last four years, Zurich has embarked on a journey to help communities build resilience through our Flood Resilience Program, combining the insurance sector’s risk management expertise with grassroots community engagement,” said David Nash, Foundation Manager at Z Zurich Foundation. “Currently 87 percent of disaster-related funding is spent on relief and recovery. Our goal is to instead shift funding towards resilience building pre-event.”

The Water Window focuses on uncovering new innovative ideas and solutions to help flood prone communities reduce their exposure to flood risks and increase their ability to grow successfully in the face of uncertainty. This moves beyond preparedness for shocks and stresses and towards enhancing resilience that sustain and improve a community’s wellbeing.

“Traditional humanitarian relief approaches will be activated after a flood and provide emergency food, housing and infrastructure,” said Luca Alinovi, Executive Director of the Global Resilience Partnership. “Development actors phase in after the initial crisis and try to rebuild infrastructure assets before the next disaster strikes. This cycle of disaster, recovery, repeat does not build long-term stability. A resilience approach, where we not only look to pre-empt shocks and support people to persist through crisis, but actively seek to transform crisis into opportunity, is the only way for long term poverty alleviation.”

Almost 400 initial entries were whittled down to the final 12 solutions that were considered to have the greatest potential impact. They will tackle issues on the ground in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, with solutions ranging from flood-resilient roads to amphibious homes and protective coastal greenbelts.

The winning solutions came from: the University of Waterloo, MetaMeta, Lutheran World Relief, Institute for Social and Environmental Transition International, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, Mercy Corps, Seacology, Danish Refugee Council, One Architecture, Practical Action, University of Potsdam, ResilNam-Coastal and ResilNam-Urban.