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Rockefeller Foundation grant to support scale-up of digital innovations for resilience in Asia

January 10, 2017

FHI 360 has received a two-year grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to support the expansion of the Global Resilience Partnership in Asia. This partnership helps the global community pivot from being reactive in the wake of disasters to driving evidence-based investments that enable cities, communities and households to better manage and adapt to the inevitable disasters and other disruptions. The award complements the partnership’s mission to “invest in a more resilient future” and help vulnerable people “better adapt to shocks and chronic stresses.”

mobile phoneThere is real potential for digital technologies to improve resilience. Access to mobile technologies has grown rapidly, and developments over the past six years in areas such as sensors, big data and artificial intelligence have expanded the ways that digital technology can build resilience.

However, there are still major barriers in access to digital technologies across Asia. These barriers include socioeconomic status, gender, ethnic group and disability. For example, according to the International Telecommunications Union, there is a 16.9% gender gap in women’s access to the internet in the Asia-Pacific region compared to men’s access. In addition, such barriers vary significantly among countries in Asia and even within countries.

Under this grant, FHI 360 will support the partnership’s work that explores how to scale up and improve access to innovative digital technologies for resilience. We will use a four-phase process to identify and engage high-potential innovators in digital technology. These phases include performing a scan of innovations for resilience, conducting due diligence on the innovations we have identified and developing a short list of those with the most potential, catalyzing partnerships between innovators, and supporting the scale-up of one or two innovations.

The results of this work will include a process and criteria, as well as a blueprint on due diligence, that practitioners can use to thoughtfully assess innovations — a tool for donors, practitioners and stakeholders.

FHI 360 is well positioned to lead this effort: In May 2016, we organized the 2016 Harnessing the Data Revolution for Resilience Summit, which brought together a broad range of innovation partners. Although successful, the summit stopped short of providing a blueprint for action.

By developing such a blueprint, this project will make a significant contribution to the field of innovations for development. “This grant allows us to move from simply identifying high-potential innovators to closely engaging them and helping them meet their goals. As the stakes for vulnerable people rise, it is critical we invest in and fully support promising innovations that improve resilience,” said Josh Woodard, Regional ICT and Digital Finance Advisor for Asia Pacific at FHI 360, and technical lead on the grant.

Photo credit: M. Ataur Rahman/FHI 360