Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. Each initiative is an experiment in the use of challenges to focus innovation on making an impact. Individual challenges address some of the same problems, but from differing perspectives.
Mark Adams of Population Services International in the U.S. will develop a "Digital Gateway" that provides health campaign managers easy access to a range of datasets to improve the planning and performance, and lower the cost, of health campaigns. Health campaigns generate data, such as population estimates, locations of health clinics, and mobile phone data, that could make planning new campaigns much more efficient, but these data tend to be difficult to access. They will develop a mechanism that ensures campaign managers share key information from past and current campaigns and develop a digitized algorithm that identifies data requirements for campaign planning. The Digital Gateway will be designed to host the data requirements for the algorithm, store and visualize datasets from past campaigns, display links to access outside data sources, and provide help to navigate the data for campaign managers to identify and apply the most relevant information when planning their own campaigns.
Anna Winters of Akros Inc. in the U.S. will adapt an existing web-based mapping tool currently in use in several low-middle income countries that guides and maps the progress of health-related campaigns, to incorporate human movement and thereby improve campaign coverage. Although the existing tool maps populations at the level of individual households, it fails to incorporate spatial-temporal population changes caused by permanent relocation, seasonal migration, and short-term movements, which are more difficult to track. To address this, they will incorporate published human movement models and explore agent-based models, mathematical models, and cell-phone-data based models, along with survey data, to build their own model that can predict the location of individuals at specific times, and to identify people most at risk of being missed. This will enable better forward planning for predicted movements. They will evaluate their approach using the malaria Indoor Residual Spraying campaign in Luapula Province in Zambia.
Nyasatu Ntshalintshali of the Clinton Health Access Initiative in the U.S. will use a benchmarking approach to guide individuals and teams delivering mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns in low-middle income regions in order to improve coverage. Individual and team behavior during health campaign planning and implementation have been identified as major causes of variation in campaign quality and performance. To encourage behavioral changes, they will use a benchmarking technique that shows individuals that their peers behave in the desired way. To be effective, the benchmark needs to be carefully targeted to the individual. They will update an existing MDA tracking application to display benchmarking prompts delivered in real-time, and evaluate its effect on the quality and coverage of MDA in a randomized control trial with 12 campaign outreach teams in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
Kerry Selvester of Associação Académica de Nutrição e Segurança Alimentar (ANSA) in Mozambique will develop an interactive online mapping and data visualization tool to identify high-risk and under-served populations in Mozambique to improve the outcome of health campaigns. They will generate high-resolution maps of existing geospatial datasets such as estimated travel time to health facilities and use remote sensing and make predictions using machine learning approaches to generate new maps of other health-related indicators. They will also build an interactive dashboard for users to quickly and easily access the available data for health campaigns. They have performed a pilot of the approach to help the Ministry of Health better target their limited resources for tackling the spread of COVID-19. They will evaluate the results of this pilot and identify additional datasets and data gaps that will be collected and consolidated, and the visualization tool will also be updated and its value qualitatively assessed.
The Metropolitan Planning Council in the U.S. will build a website to push back against the myth of "good" and "bad" neighborhoods - dominant narratives that are value judgments, which help perpetuate inequity. Aided by a long history of racial and economic segregation, racialized policies and practices in many cities have systematically deprived communities of color of equitable investment. By centering resident voice - particularly the voices of residents in segregated, low-income communities of color - this effort will shift the way these neighborhoods are conceptualized, focusing on resilience, social bonds, and other themes that emerge. These powerful narratives will further the case for investment in chronically disinvested individuals and communities.
The Young Women's Christian Association of San Antonio in the U.S. will run a multimedia public awareness campaign by producing videos of days in the lives of women of color working in hospitality, caregiving, and food service industries in the city. These videos will be used as a platform to answer the questions often posed by those who misunderstand the causes of poverty, such as "Why can't they just get a job?" In partnership with a local community foundation and radio station, they will present the stories as short films in movie theaters and in radio talk shows to explore a series of "Why can't they just…" questions.
The Center for Popular Democracy's Fair Workweek Initiative in the U.S. will run a digital campaign to tell the real-life stories of how volatile working hours and other business practices harm families' financial security and well-being. The majority of Americans are paid hourly and are not given set working hours. This makes it difficult for families to plan for necessities such as child-care or pursue further education, leading to poverty, instability, and a feeling of powerlessness. These practices are prevalent in low-wage jobs (often considered "essential"), occupied by workers of color, especially women of color, and perpetuate racial and economic inequities in economic opportunity. Center for Popular Democracy will recruit storytellers, including workers impacted by just-in-time scheduling, and will pair their stories with data to illustrate a larger trend, and highlight how racial bias ensures workers of color experience disproportionate impacts. They will tailor the content to a variety of audiences and evaluate their reactions to different formats.
The Arkansas Asset Funders Network in the U.S. will organize grasstops (e.g. business and banking, philanthropic and policy) champions to advance an agenda focused on Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed (ALICE) individuals. Efforts will highlight class-based narratives around the value and worthiness of hourly wage employment and the importance of asset creation and protection for Arkansas workers. Ambassadors will especially highlight ALICE households without a "work from home" option: those individuals who keep our businesses running, prepare and handle our food, care for our children and our sick, and keep our public spaces clean. Working together, they will build champions for this population, highlighting how the ALICE juggle to make ends meet and need equitable asset building options and protections for the future.
Brandeis University and Boston University in the U.S. will gather and disseminate the life histories of people who have suffered economic decline to highlight the dynamic nature of the underlying causes and better inspire empathy. Economic and social decline often lurches in fits and starts over a lifetime, driven by diverse, interrelated factors such as family resources and relationships. However, most studies on social mobility focus on a specific moment in time. As an alternative approach, they will conduct interviews with men and women from diverse backgrounds who have experienced an economic shock to assess their personal, familial, and neighborhood settings; their emotions and key events; and how they relate to their economic circumstances over time. They will also harness the capacity of young people to change public opinions to develop effective strategies to disseminate the stories to their peers.
The Center for Public Interest Communications and the Radical Communicators Network (The Center and RadComms) in the U.S. are working together to change the narrative of poverty by supporting those most affected in telling their stories. The Center and RadComms will first conduct a narrative power analysis to characterize the harmful narrative and underlying assumptions that need changing, then provide frontline activists with science-based communications tools to produce and develop counternarratives that can replace harmful and inaccurate ones. These resources can be used to promote a new narrative on poverty that recognizes the conditions responsible for the problem and the voices of those most affected.