Challenge Fund Round 3

Call for Proposals: Challenge Fund Round 3


The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the Centre for Global Disaster Protection are launching a new Challenge Fund to pilot and support the development of innovative risk financing mechanisms, and align global innovation with on-the-ground user needs.

Developing countries are often the hardest hit by natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, droughts or earthquakes. Yet, they are the most sensitive to the budget volatility caused by major catastrophes, and are the least equipped to prepare for these extreme events. Financing is at the core of any disaster management action, whether risk reduction, preparedness, financial protection, or resilient recovery. Unfortunately, financing after a disaster is often long delayed, increasing the human impact.

The application of new technologies to risk financing could revolutionize financial mechanisms, for example by better targeting funds to vulnerable communities both geographically and temporally. These innovations include forecast based mechanisms that can fund early-action before a disaster strikes, or big data (very large datasets that can be automatically processed and analyzed) and machine-learning algorithms that can improve exposure and/or damage assessments and accelerate payouts. The real challenge is bringing together the technical experts working on these approaches, with the operational experts implementing risk management programs, and at-risk communities in affected countries.

This Challenge Fund will fund projects that help bring these communities together and strengthen financial resilience in developing countries. This round is a partnership between the Department for International Development, the Centre for Global Disaster Protection, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, and the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program. It is supported through the InsuResilience Climate Risk Financing and Insurance Program MDTF, in association with the InsuResilience Global Partnership. It builds on the success of previous rounds focused on risk identification. 

Who may apply?

The Challenge Fund is open to proposals around two thematic challenges and a special focus area.

Three key principles should inform all grant proposals: 

  1. all proposals need to demonstrate a new or different approach which requires funding from the challenge fund to get off the ground, and the proposal should demonstrate why this could not be supported from more traditional funding sources;
  2. all products and outputs should show a clear path to ultimately be operationalized on-the-ground, even if this proposal won’t take it all the way; and 
  3. all approaches should be scalable to other regions or communities. 

Individual projects may focus on one or multiple thematic areas. A clearly identified need or problem and a practical application of the proposed innovation will be key for a successful proposal. 

Thematic Area 1: Disaster Risk Financing for Early-Action

Financing for early-action, for example using forecast based triggers, can help shift the humanitarian paradigm from response after a shock to early measures, at the first signs of an impending disaster. Such mechanisms could be integrated in large scale Disaster Risk Financing mechanisms for governments, e.g. through World Bank instruments (e.g. contingent credit, risk transfer solutions, emergency funds, etc.).

Examples of activities the Challenge Fund could support: 

  • Analyzing the feasibility of implementing innovative earlyaction mechanisms into Disaster Risk Financing instruments for governments.
  • Defining metrics and triggers to activate financing for various temporal windows (e.g. months, weeks or days before an event).
  • Better targeting beneficiaries, either geographically and / or temporally.
  • Building operational case studies showing the quantifiable impact of specific early actions.
  • Evaluating the cost effectiveness of exante action as opposed to ex-post financing.
  • Communicating approaches onthe-ground and ensuring buy-in from end-users.

Thematic Area 2: Machine Learning and Big Data for Disaster Risk Financing

The application of big data (e.g. satellite imagery, social and news media, RFID/IoT sensors, mobile applications, community-based data collection) and machine learning algorithms have the potential to revolutionize disaster risk financing mechanisms before, during, and after an event. 

Examples of activities the Challenge Fund could help:

  • Improving impact forecasting, by collecting and processing data as signs of change are being detected, or as an event is unfolding.
  • Designing more sophisticated triggers for parametric financial products.
  • Automating loss adjustment and claims settlement to accelerate payouts.
  • Validating and calibrating models quickly, using onthe-ground observations.
  • Nontraditional approaches to modelling, to understand and finance largely untapped risks.

Focus area: Disaster Risk Financing Mechanisms to Manage Food Insecurity

A special focus of this challenge fund will be on disaster risk financing mechanisms to support food security. While the selection team is looking for interesting proposals that help address food insecurity, this is not a requirement for success. 

Examples of activities the Challenge Fund could help:

  • Improving the collection of data to better analyze food insecurity drivers.
  • Anticipating food insecurity crisis, e.g. combining climate, commodity, market, and political information, or using mobile phone data to understand population movements, etc.
  • Selecting or designing appropriate risk financing mechanisms to trigger earlyaction.
  • Communicating risk information to assist corporate discussions and decision making.

What funding is available?

Grants range from USD 100,000 up to USD 200,000. The proposal should clearly explain and justify the requested budget.

    What are the criteria for proposals?

    Submitted proposals will be ranked according to the following criteria: 


    • Identify a specific problem statement or need
    • Articulation of proposed solution and approach
    • Establish a clear path towards operationalizing the product on-the-ground
    • Geographical focus on developing countries
    • Capacity of the proposed solution to scaleup
    • Meet World Bank eligibility requirements (see below)


    • Projects that present a clear strategy for bridging the gap between innovation and users, including through coproductive approaches and user consultations 
    • Involvement of research or other partners in developing countries on an equal basis. 
    • New partnerships to develop cross sectoral and collaborative teams (including members from the public, private, NGO and academic sectors) 
    • Encouraging training and capacity development of users.
    • Development of open access data, products, tools and approaches
    • Open source technological solutions that are simple and replicable are encouraged
    • Ability to leverage other projects and investment to deliver greater impact

    Eligibility Requirements:

    What are the operating principles?

    • Only up to two proposals can be submitted per institution 
    • The proposals must follow the provided template and all documents must include the name, institution and thematic area chosen in its heading
    • Consortiums, partnerships and collaboration on projects among different organizations are encouraged
    • The Challenge Fund aims to bridge the gap between innovators and users to build disaster and climate resilience. A demonstrated passion and interest in building resilience is key in any successful application 

    How do I apply?

    Step 1: Send in a short application (5 pages max) defining the problem statement and your proposed solution using the submission portal below. Close of Call for ApplicationJune 30, 2018

    Step 2: Proposals will be reviewed by the Expert Working Group. This will be based on the outlined criteria. Up to 5 proposals will be selected for funding. Successful applicants will be notified by email by August 31, 2018. Note: If your proposal is selected, you may receive feedback from the Expert Working Group to maximize the impact of your proposal. *For shortlisted applicants, a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued to get a detailed proposal for further evaluation.

    Step 3: Once successful teams have incorporated feedback, the lead of the proposal team needs to submit a more detailed technical proposal and financial proposal as soon as possible or by September 30, 2018.

    Step 4: The award will be made upon completion of contractual negotiations with the World Bank Group. Awarded institutions must be able to meet the vendor eligibility requirements of the World Bank Group. Teams will have 12 – 18 months to complete their project. 

    Public Announcements of the Proposals Funded in this Round will be made in October 2018.

    For more information, please contact Nicolas Pondard (, or Emma Phillips (

    Submit a Proposal