Southern African countries are expected to be one of the hardest hit regions in the world from climate change, with countries showing an estimated increase of up to 10 percent of extreme poverty by 2030. The region’s agriculture and food security are mainly affected by natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and droughts. However, animal and plant health risks, as well as volatility of agriculture and food prices, also have a significant impact on farmers’ income and on food security for the most vulnerable households.

Furthermore, these countries experience severe budget volatility caused by major catastrophes, which can make budgetary planning a challenge and leave countries lacking liquidity to respond to these extreme events.

To help address these issues, we and several partners launched a new round of the Challenge Fund. This round seeks innovative agriculture risk financing and decision-making tools to help countries in Southern Africa better prepare against economic losses, poverty and food insecurity due to natural disasters and other risks.

Challenge Fund

“Financing risks for agriculture and food security is at the core of any action for investing in poverty reduction and climate resilience. Today use of remote sensing data and machine-learning tools can help assess funding needs and target funds to vulnerable farmers and households,” said Martien Van Nieuwkoop, Director of the World Bank’s Agriculture Global Practice. “Governments can now harness the technical capacity of private sector and non-governmental institutions to better assess the impact of an event on the agriculture sector and on food security, and therefore plan ahead and disburse disaster assistance faster. The challenge now is bringing together that technical expertise to serve the public sector respond better to farmers and food insecure households in affected countries.”

The Challenge Fund seeks to design a tool that can support public finance decisions based on an integrated approach for the management of agriculture sector risks.

Interested applicants will respond to the core challenge of developing a model for weather risks financing for agriculture and food security, with optional second order effects on animal and plant health, and/or on food/agriculture price volatility.

The winner(s) of the challenge will receive an invitation to a two-day expert workshop in London during the month of August 2019. The objective of the expert workshop will be to:

  1. review the proposals in detail (through oral presentations and Q&A sessions);
  2. identify opportunities for partnerships among proponents; and
  3. identify opportunities for improving key data constraints.

From the workshop, one or several proposals could be selected for receiving grants to develop the proposed tools in pilot country applications. Grants are expected to range from USD 100,000 up to USD 300,000. The proposal should clearly explain and justify the requested budget.

Details about the Challenge Fund and the submission portal can be found here: