Floods cause more damage worldwide than any other natural disaster. Sida's partner Global Resilience Partnership, works to promote new solutions that build resilience to floods before they strike, as opposed to the work today where most of the work is done after a disaster has occurred.
World Water Week in Stockholm brings together actors from all over the world working with water-related issues. One of these is Sida's partner, the Global Resilience Partnership, that works to increase resilience in vulnerable communities so they are able to build resistance to, better adapt to, and importantly, transform through natural disasters and crises. Resilience means increasing the ability of vulnerable communities to build resistance against and better adapt to natural disasters and other sudden crises. Through the Water Window the Global Resilience Partnership wants to build resilience in flood-affected areas in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and in Southeast Asia through a partnerships with different actors, including the private sector. The goal of the program is to find new innovative ideas that can make sure the floods do less human and economic damage.
– With the Water Window, we try to identify innovations that can help increase local resilience to flooding. It could be to build early warning systems, improve city building in an area or building floating houses that can accompany the rising water levels, says Luca Alinovi who is Executive Director of Global Resilience Partnership.
The same principles apply to the Water Window as to the other Challenge Funds Sida support; organizations, companies and researchers compete for funding to implement innovative projects to solve problems. The resilience projects are carried out locally, but the lessons learned can be used elsewhere.
– We want to encourage people to try out new ideas. Therefore, the requirements do not imply that all projects must show clear results. The most important is that we can bring innovations, large and small, a chance to be implemented. If they are subsequently found to be successful, we can provide special funding for the project to be scaled up and implemented in more locations, says Luca Alinovi.
During the World Water Week the Global Resilience Partnership presented the 16 projects that proceeded to the second round of Water Window. The applications are diverse and include flood resistant houses in Bangladesh as well as a project in Kenya that wants to take advantage of the water in the floods to agriculture. The winners, presented at the end of 2016, will receive up to 250 000 USD to test new ideas and up to $ 1 million to expand the innovations that are already proven to work.
Insurance company as a key partner
The Water Window is a collaboration between the Global Resilience Partnership and a Swiss insurance company, the Zurich Insurance Group. Through the Zurich Foundation, they contribute to the program with $10 million as well as their knowledge of risk management. Working together with the private sector is a natural part of the strategy of the Global Resilience Partnership;to get as many actors as possible involved in their resilience building agenda.
– Projects like the Water Window are of course a part of our CSR work. But as an insurance company there are also other big returns for us. Managing risk is one of our core areas and obviously we want to contribute to ensuring that damage from the floods, for example, can be avoided, says David Nash, Foundation Manager at the Zurich Foundation.
Luca Alinovi explains that greater risks equals higher insurance rates. If you find ways to reduce risks such as floods, it will ultimately lead to a drop of insurance rates and that more people can afford to pay for insurance. This creates financial incentives for insurance companies to participate and contribute to partnerships such as the Water Window, while people that are vulnerable to floods benefit from the innovations that come out of the program.
– This is a dream situation for us, that the private sector will find the business benefits of our projects while helping to make the lives better in the areas we operate in, says Luca Alinovi.