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.
Fatima AdamuFederal University Birnin KebbiBirnin Kebbi, Nigeria
Women and Girls
16 Nov 2015
Fatima Adamu from the Federal University Birnin Kebbi in Nigeria will support the transition of adolescent girls from secondary school into heath-related careers such as medicine, midwifery, and nursing to address the shortage of female health workers specifically in rural northern Nigeria. Social norms dictate that women only receive reproductive care from females, so a shortage means that many, particularly in the North, do not receive any health care during pregnancy. Additionally, women who pursue careers are more likely to have children later, which is associated with a healthier life. They will integrate existing and new education strategies, including coaching particularly female teachers in student-centered learning methods, to improve core academic and vocational training, and enhance life skills for girls. Their approach will be tested using a controlled trial.
Sarah van BoekhoutWaterSHED CambodiaPhnom Penh, Cambodia
Women and Girls
11 Nov 2015
Sarah van Boekhout and the team of WaterSHED in Cambodia will further catalyze the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) market by developing a women’s mentorship network and a special marketing program in order to improve the productivity and decision-making power of women in rural Cambodia. This project focuses on the success of female entrepreneurs in the market for WASH products and sevices. Members of the capacity-building and mentorship network, branded as the WEwork collective, will receive support and training on personal, professional, and community leadership; business planning; and financial literacy. This approach will be tested with more than 200 women across eight target provinces in Cambodia, and will emphasize community-driven peer coaching and support. WaterSHED will also reshape WASH marketing tools and strategies in order to better reach rural women consumers and to promote the success of business women in the supply chain. The outcomes of this project will better inform the design of women’s economic empowerment programs worldwide.
Laurent UwumuremyiCAREAtlanta, Georgia, United States
Women and Girls
10 Nov 2015
Laurent Uwumuremyi and team at CARE in Burundi will evaluate the impact of an intensive gender transformative approach among women smallholder farmers relative to a current “gender-light” approach for delivering income, food security and women’s empowerment outcomes through agricultural development interventions. Their transformative approach focuses more deeply on gender by generating awareness of the issues, building personal skills, and directly challenging underlying inequalities through dialogue and collective action involving male relatives and the wider community. They will train facilitators and recruit a total of 7,500 women in two provinces in Burundi for a four-year study. The research will provide essential evidence-based policy recommendations for the agricultural sector to help improve global food security and well-being.
Elizabeth Ombech of ZanaAfrica Group Ltd. in Kenya seeks to implement safe, accurate, and cost-effective reproductive health innovations for girls—in the form of disposable sanitary pads coupled with girl-centered reproductive health information and resources—and to evaluate this approach against traditional facilitation-based methods for impact on girls’ educational attainment, sexual behavior, reproductive health, and self-determination in order to expand the global evidence base surrounding the role of menstrual health-focused interventions in gender parity, health, and development.
Louis SchofieldJames Cook UniversityCairns, Queensland, Australia
Global Health Interventions
9 Nov 2015
Louis Schofield of James Cook University in Australia will develop a broad-spectrum malaria vaccine that is effective against different life-cycle stages of multiple species of the causative Plasmodium parasite. More than one third of the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria. However developing an effective vaccine is challenging because humans are infected by five quite distinct Plasmodium species. In addition the parasites pass through very different developmental stages including sporozoites which mosquitoes inject into the human bloodstream a disease-causing blood stage and a transmissible sexual stage. Using Grand Challenges Explorations funding they have already identified a surface oligosaccharide antigen conserved in several Plasmodium species that when combined with generic carriers and adjuvants can generate a strong immune response that blocks several life-cycle stages in animal models. They will perform further key preclinical evaluations to determine the full efficacy of the vaccine and whether it should proceed to testing in humans.
Appiah Kwaku Boateng of 4-H Ghana in Ghana will support 600 new and existing 4-H school and community clubs in Ghana, which teach livelihood and life skills such as business planning, farming and communication, with a stronger focus on girls. This will serve to enhance the economic and education opportunities particularly for young girls who are more vulnerable to unemployment. They will recruit and train more women to run the clubs and engage girls by acting as mentors, and to act as district advisers. They aim to develop a successful approach that can then be implemented across Africa.
Rohini PandeHarvard UniversityCambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Women and Girls
3 Nov 2015
Rohini Pande of Harvard University in the U.S. will conduct two large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs) which will investigate whether female-friendly modifications to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGS) program in India can improve program efficiency and increase rural women's employment, financial inclusion, and empowerment. They will also test the efficacy of transparency tools to document wage payment delays to understanding whether holding local implementers accountable can decrease payment delays to women.
Samuel AlcaineUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherst, Massachusetts, United States
Grand Challenges Explorations
1 Nov 2015
Samuel Alcaine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the U.S. will engineer bacteriophage (viruses that infect bacteria) to produce an antimicrobial compound that helps avoid bacteria such as enteroaggregative Escherichia coli developing resistance to the phage, thereby increasing their value for treating associated childhood diseases. Phage could be valuable for treating intestinal diseases that cause severe morbidity and mortality in developing countries as they can selectively destroy pathogenic bacteria. However, some bacteria rapidly develop resistance to the phage, which renders them useless. By inducing phage-infected bacteria to also release a toxic substance (bacteriocin), this would destroy any potentially resistant neighboring bacteria. They will engineer T7 bacteriophage to express one of two selected bacteriocins and test their ability to circumvent phage resistance in E. coli.
Ross AndersonUniversity of Cambridge Computer LaboratoryCambridge, United Kingdom
Grand Challenges Explorations
1 Nov 2015
Ross Anderson at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom will develop technology to enable secure offline phone-to-phone and card-to-phone payments between customers and merchants. The ability to use mobile phones to make and receive payments has expanded access to secure financial services in low-resource settings. However, the requirement of a network connection makes it particularly problematic in rural communities. They will develop SIM overlay technology, modern cryptography and audio coupling to securely transfer payments offline also from a SIM format payment card for those without a phone. Merchants can then bank the payments periodically whenever they have a network connection. They will evaluate their prototype for usability and security, and work towards interoperability across countries so that migrant workers can also use it.
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