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Sweden, U.S. Launch Water Management Challenge
September 4, 2013

USAID Global Water Coordinator Christian Holmes and Swedish Minister for Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson.

September 3, 2013

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sweden’s development agency (Sida) announced the Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development on September 2.

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing global challenges. Approximately 2.8 billion people — more than 40 percent of the world’s population — are affected by water scarcity. Because more than 70 percent of the world’s water is used in agriculture, global food security is particularly hampered by the lack of available water, USAID said in a September 2 press release.

Through this $25 million program, USAID and Sida will fund and accelerate scientific and technological innovations that can be sustained with market-based approaches to more effectively use and manage the water required to produce food in developing and emerging countries.

“Water scarcity and its impact on food security affects everyone on the planet,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “By harnessing the expertise and creativity of the world’s brightest innovators, we can tackle this critical challenge with new thinking and partnerships.”

“Securing Water for Food represents exactly the kind of effort we hope to inspire through USAID’s new and first-ever global water and development strategy that we launched this past May,” he said.

The program will fund science and technology innovators, entrepreneurs, businesses, and academics to accelerate the best solutions in three key areas that affect food production: water reuse and efficiency, water capture and storage, and salinity. The program also will facilitate adoption of these solutions in new and emerging markets.

“In a finite biosphere, solutions to pressing water challenges require new thinking and innovative financing,” said Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish minister for development cooperation. “Through a catalytic use of aid, the Security Water for Food will be able to capture and support the implementation of innovative ideas and new technologies for better water efficiency and sustainable development. I am excited about the possibilities of this new initiative made possible through the close cooperation between Sweden and USAID.”

To date, USAID and Sida have pooled more than $100 million with other partners to fund three Grand Challenges for Development, an effort that demonstrates their mutual commitment to science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, USAID said.

The program’s its first call for proposals can be found on the program’s website.

Learn more about USAID’s Grand Challenges for Development program on the agency’s website.