Water Data Challenge

Due Date: 07/01/2017

The Water Data Challenge aims to improve the access to information that is so crucial to ensuring that farmers thrive - especially in lower-income settings - and water resources are managed well. The challenge is led by the World Bank in partnership with the Government of Australia.

With the greater part of the world’s water consumption used for farming, publicly available and accessible data on water are of paramount importance in agriculture. This is true not only for growing crops, but also for the efficient use of scarce water in the short and long-run.

Current estimates show that the world may face a 40% shortfall in water availability by 2030. Managing water resources is, therefore, critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In developing countries, relevant data on water quantity and quality often are non-existent, not well organized, and not affordable. Consequently, farmers cannot make well-informed decisions on daily operations or investments, resulting in sub-optimal harvests and overuse of valuable water. For these reasons, the challenge seeks new data, approaches and technologies to organize, disclose and distribute water data to farmers.

Applications accepted from innovators, entrepreneurs, start-ups, researchers, and government agencies. Applications from women-led organizations and organizations located in low or low-middle income countries are encouraged. Diverse, non-traditional partnerships with a local presence and that involve the private sector to foster sustainability are especially encouraged.

The Challenge seeks breakthroughs in the following three areas:

Water Data Solutions: To identify, develop and test data-led, highly cost-effective solutions, which satisfy the information needs of farmers - male and female, or the extension agents who support farmers, to reduce farmer’s water-related risks and costs.

Water Data Investments: To apply new approaches to facilitate and foster investments in the implementation of innovative data solutions, such as institution building, stakeholder platforms, public-private knowledge sharing methods, or mobilizing innovative financial mechanisms (e.g. insurance schemes).

Capacity Development for Impact: To promote the capacity development of farmers/small farming communities, extension agents, or data-provider operations/services ensuring user-centered solutions that result in higher production/yields or more efficient use of water.

The Challenge seeks innovations that:

  • Are sustainable - financial, institutional, environmental, technological, and social
  • Use participatory and context-specific processes
  • Are scalable in resource-poor settings
  • Can be monitored and evaluated for impact and learning

The Call for Innovations will begin on World Water Day, March 22, 2017, with a rolling application process. Following the Call for Innovations, a group of experts will select key innovations to receive planning grants of US $10,000 to be announced by July of 2017. Applicants selected for planning grants in the first round will be asked to submit full proposals, and will be eligible for early-stage awards up to US $250,000, and ready-to-scale awards up to US $1million. ​ 

Support is expected to include collaboration with other innovators, technical experts, funders, leaders and stakeholders to expand networks, enhance solutions, and multiply the impact of challenge funding.

Learn more about this opportunity > >

When we were young, we had trouble seeing the cattle in the grassland. Now we can see the mice.
— Chinese farmers as quoted in The Coming Famine by Julian Cribb