IFRC Limitless Youth Innovation Academy – Water Prize

IFRC Limitless Youth Innovation Academy – Water Prize

We are excited to introduce a special award within the IFRC Limitless Academy, focusing on innovation projects related to water. Acknowledging the vital importance of water in the humanitarian context, this award aims to inspire creative solutions to address water-related challenges.

Our Objectives

Our objective goes beyond fostering innovation; we aim to impact our communities meaningfully and contribute to humanitarian well-being through inventive water solutions. Get ready to dive into the world of water innovation in Limitless!

The most important factor is that water innovations should be locally led. You can download here some extra key characteristics we will evaluate.

Why is water important?

Nine out of ten disasters triggered by natural hazards during the last decade were water-related. Over 90 percent of disaster-affected people were affected by water-related disasters which also accounted for nearly 95 percent of infrastructure loss and damage.

Access to water and sanitation is a human right. Well-managed water resources underpin progress across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, for example, related to gender equity, health, livelihoods, and ecosystems. Water should therefore be at the heart of reducing disaster risks to people and services caused by natural or manmade hazards, and adaptation to climate change as it serves as the crucial link between the climate system, human society, and the environment.

How does our work include water?

For many National Societies, water is an integral part of community-based actions delivered by millions of Volunteers. In many of IFRC’s focus areas, water is well-embedded:

  • Climate-smart Disaster Risk Reduction: Whether dealing with “too much, too little, or too dirty water”, most disasters are water-related and climate change is increasing their frequency and severity.  Risk reduction and adaptation innovations for water and sanitation services are vital for the resilience of societies and natural environments, where many National Societies embrace promising opportunities such as Nature-based Solutions for risk reduction. Increasingly, together with local communities National Societies develop and adopt new or improved ways to protect people from floods, introduce drought or rain-resistant crops, retain water for livelihoods, etc. 
  • Disaster preparedness: Over 90% of disasters are water-related, preparing for these will save countless lives, speed up people’s recovery, and save money. Many National Societies continually improve their local preparedness and response capacity and assets to deal with water-related disasters. Innovations to improve preparedness are manifold and may be around topics such as household water treatment, water conservation, or disposal of sewage or faecal matter.
  • Community health: Through community health work, millions of Volunteers are working hard to promote good health, prevent disease, and reduce suffering. Many times community-based health activities include water-, sanitation-, and hygiene (WASH) related services that are complementary to more formal health and WASH services. Our investment in community health tools, such as the eCBHFA, provides opportunities for integrated WASH innovations.
  • Emergency health: Often people living in affected areas face disruptions to safe water and sanitation services, putting them at increased risk of water-related diseases. National Societies are trusted local partners in their communities and play a vital role in providing health education and services for water-related outbreak prevention. Innovations in this area may be around new or improved community engagement approaches on water-related outbreak prevention, new or improved communication materials, etc.
  • WASH: Right now hundreds of millions of people worldwide do not have access to safe water and billions cannot access the sanitation services they need. Work in WASH involves both a ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ approach; On the hardware side, National Societies are helping to provide services such as toilets and water points or repair or build sewage systems, water storage, and water treatment facilities. On the software side, National Societies run hygiene promotion and behaviour change activities to improve people’s knowledge of good sanitation and hygiene practices, or to manage community-based WASH services. For both hardware and software, there are ample opportunities for innovation such as more appropriate and inclusive toilets, new water use techniques, improved hygiene education approaches, etc.

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