One of the challenges in efforts to adapt to climate change is the gap between the large amount of climate information available from meteorological services and people who may use it to cope with climate shocks and stressors.
Despite considerable improvements in the availability and quality of climate information over the past two decades and large investments in outreach, significant gaps remain in making this information accessible and useable. These gaps are particularly large for the poorest and most vulnerable groups in developing countries.
The Climate Information Prize (CIP) in Kenya is an effort to help bridge this gap through the use of financial awards to those who develop innovative solutions to this problem. Set up in 2015, CIP is part of the UK Aid-funded Ideas to Impact programme, which also runs prizes on energy access and water, sanitation and health.
The rationale of CIP is to explore prizes as a mechanism to support adaptation. It is not intended as a replacement for grant funding, rather as a complement to push the work further and, importantly, attract new groups of actors into this area. In particular, CIP has targeted young entrepreneurs in Kenya, aiming to encourage them to connect to providers of climate information.
The competition consists of two main prizes: Wazo and Tekeleza. A smaller prize, called the Tambua Prize, was also run in summer of 2017 to recognise existing innovations that are making climate information more accessible and usable. Since CIP’s launch, 20 prizes have been awarded.
The Wazo Prize was set up to encourage innovators to come forward with new ideas on how to make climate information accessible by vulnerable communities. Sam Owilly won first place for his presentation of the Pawa Farm concept. This virtual platform allows farmers to access timely and useful information on projected weather and climate conditions. It also provides them with soil-specific advice on when they need to prepare their land, the types of crops to plant and when to harvest. After a competitive judging process, Sam Owilly was awarded $15,000 for putting forward this detailed concept.
The main prize, the Tekeleza Prize, will be awarded in November. Over 20 individuals and organisations are competing for a share of the prize pot of more than $425,000. The focus of their innovations range from mobile phone applications to local level awareness raising. They will be independently judged and verified and shortlisted candidates will present their solutions in front of a panel for the prize to then be awarded at an event in Nairobi, Kenya.
CIP is expected to encourage solutions that have a lasting impact for vulnerable communities. It will also provide useful lessons on how prizes as a mechanism can be a new tool to spur innovation in climate change and development.
Lars Otto Naess
Lars Otto Naess is the technical lead on adaptation within the Ideas to Impact programme and is based at the Institute of Development Studies.
Nicki Spence leads the implementation of the Climate Information Prize with implementing partner Cardno in Kenya.
Lorenza Geronimo is the Communications Manager on the UK Aid-funded Ideas to Impact programme. She is based at IMC Worldwide, the international development consultancy that implements Ideas to Impact.