We are glad to present the 10 winner projects of the Inequality Challenge:

Assessing BRAC’s Innovative Health Loans in Protecting the Poor against Health and Asset Vulnerability in Bangladesh

BRAC University James P. Grant School of Public Health, Bangladesh

Challenge: It is not access to health care that is the main problem facing many in Bangladesh, but rather the lack of access to formal credit and health insurance. The poor – who work and live in less healthy conditions – are at most risk of becoming ill. Since 2013, BRAC offers Medical Treatment Loans (MTL) to its microcredit clients. The challenge now is to improve the programme, because despite its success, the general demand for MTL remains low due to access barriers and limitations in the product design.

Objective: The project aims to improve the existing MTL programme by designing an innovative product as well as developing a decentralised and digitised implementation protocol that allows improved access for vulnerable clients and better monitoring of impacts.

Target Group: Existing microcredit clients of BRAC – who are mostly poor by international standards – are the primary target group of MTL.

Ways of implementation: The project will develop a revised MTL approach incorporating both demand- and supply-side barriers. Primarily, the project enhances equitable inclusion in the programme and increases the speed of reimbursements. Moreover, it conducts a rigorous process evaluation to investigate successful implementation strategies for the programme. A mixed-method research design will be applied to identify and document any unexpected effects of the proposed innovations.

Malabika Sarker and Manuela De Allegri presenting their project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Michael Uwemedimo presenting his project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Narrative Geographies: Community Mapping and Media in Nigeria

Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform (CMAP), Nigeria

Challenge: Over 70% of Nigeria’s city dwellers live in slum conditions. By 2050, being a young, disenfranchised slum dweller will be Nigeria’s core urban condition. Cities will be both demographically and infrastructurally young. However, even though the young are shaping the face of cities, they are politically under-represented. Port Hartcourt’s informal waterfront settlements are a prime example of socially excluded areas: low-lying, flood-prone and with poor access. Residents experience extreme social inequality and lack a voice in municipal decision-making. If the struggle to overcome deepening social and spatial inequality is to succeed in Nigeria, it must succeed in Nigeria’s slums.

Objective: The project aims to develop a programme to connect a community media initiative and a participatory mapping project. It will thus allow residents of the city’s informal settlements to voice their experience and put themselves on the map.

Target Group: Young slum dwellers, particularly young women who live in Port Harcourt’s informal waterfront settlements

Ways of implementation: The final product will be a radio drama that explores residents’ everyday experiences of urban design and urban violence, particularly the tensions between state planners and ordinary people who built the communities in which they live, as well their everyday challenges. The project combines community media and participatory mapping approaches to establish a catalytic relationship between the creation of open public discourse and the co-production of public space. The mapping team will produce Google Street View maps of communities where the drama is set.

Fair Share project

Oxfam, Brazil

Challenge: Brazil is the 9th most unequal country on the planet. The richest 5% account for 50% of the national income, and six Brazilians have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the population. There are several reasons for Brazil’s inequalities, with the country’s tax system one of the most important. Without meaningful and progressive tax reform, there will be no structural change in inequalities.

Objective: The main objective of the ‘Fair Share’ project is to start shifting the terms of the debate around taxation. The challenge is to expose it in order to empower the poorest Brazilians and change the narrative of the Brazilian tax system, from ‘less taxation’ to ‘fair taxation’.

Target Group: The target group consists of the bottom 40% of the population, whose average incomes are no higher than R$ 577,00 (150 EUR) per month, less than the Brazilian minimum wage. Among this group, poor black women are the majority.

Ways of implementation: The ‘Fair Share’ project is a tax calculator, which will provide basic information on citizens’ current individual tax burden, and simulating new and fairer tax burdens under scenarios of progressive tax reforms in order to provoke public debate around ‘who pays the bill in Brazil’. It will do this through non-technical language that reaches the most vulnerable people.

Samantha Federici Florence Teixeira and Rafael Georges da Cruz presenting their project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Aleksandra Sremčev and Sanja Kovac presenting their project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Tackling gender inequality in Serbia through theatre based education among most vulnerable groups

Serbian Association for Reproductive Health and Rights (SRH), Serbia

Challenge: Young people in Serbia have grown up in turbulent times and in cultural and economic isolation. Gender divisions in Serbia are well-established due to the lack of will and opportunities to see the perspectives of others. This is especially true among men.

Objective: The project focuses on changing accepted gender-related attitudes, expectations, norms and behavioural patterns. It encourages youth from vulnerable population groups in Serbia to challenge and question traditional gender roles. The project has the potential to galvanise the young audience into questioning stable and deeply-rooted gender-based stereotypes.

Target Group: Mainly young Roma and returnees between the ages of 14 and 27 of both genders. In the first phase, SRH Serbia will work with the target group directly in four cities across Serbia (Vršac, Kruševac, Zaječar, Pirot) and in the capital Belgrade, thus covering most of Serbia’s administrative territory and reaching out to young Roma people through an existing network of civil society organisations and individuals.

Ways of implementation: The project will bring young people together in a guided discussion about gender roles through participatory theatre. The project will use an original stage play and a storyline that follows real-life situations and problems (such as parents’ reactions to a marriage between a Roma person and a person from the majority population). To boost the process of learning and empowerment, men will play female roles and women will play male roles.

Water Farming for Climate Resilient Agriculture and Disaster Preparedness in India & Bangladesh

South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE), India

Challenge: Many people in India and Bangladesh live in agrarian marginal communities close to the floodplains of the major rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra and Padma. Every year, more than one third of the land is completely submerged and about a quarter of it remains partially submerged by floodwaters for five to seven months. The inhabitants have no alternatives for survival, no opportunities to combat the impacts of climate change and succumb to societal disintegration. Affected people are in crucial need of alternative, flood-resilient farming practices for food and social security.

Objective: To train farmers in hydroponic farming and aquaculture, ensure sustainable livelihoods and food security, and promote inclusive growth through financial inclusion.

Target Group: The project is located in marginal communities in the east of Majuli River Island, in Assam (India), in Saharsa in Bihar (India) and in Shyamnagar (Bangladesh).

Ways of implementation: In order to provide a local sustainable solution, the project introduces flood-resilient hydroponic farming practices – specifically those related to the aquaculture of fish – through capacity building and technology transfer. The project team trains young and motivated rural farmers and fisher folk in raft making, cultivation techniques, weed and pest management, and post-harvest management of rafts. Moreover, local institutions are strengthened by forming community groups called ‘Joint Liability Groups’, that work collectively and have a common bank account for earned revenues.

Dipayan Dey and Joy Dasgupta presenting their project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Byoung Hwa Hwang presenting her project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Cl♀sing the Gap: Women Empowerment through Digital Financial Services in Jordan

Improving Access to Remittances and other Financial Services through Digital Solutions (Digi#ances), GIZ Jordan

Challenge: In Jordan, less than one in three women have access to a bank account. The gender gap in access to finance currently stands at 30% – three times higher than the global average. In general, digital technologies (especially mobile payments) have extended the access to financial services for those at the bottom of society. Mobile money agents function as ‘human touch points’ to enter the digital financial ecosystem. However, of the roughly 1,200 mobile money agents in Jordan, only a handful are women.

Objective: The project aims to tackle the gender gap in financial inclusion by developing a women’s mobile money agent network in Jordan. The project empowers women by giving them an active role in advancing their financial and economic inclusion.

Target Group: Research shows that women are more likely to interact with other women when it comes to personal money management. The project therefore aims to engage with female micro, small and medium entrepreneurs.

Ways of implementation: The project focuses on three main intervention areas: (1) identify and train mobile money agents, (2) build entrepreneurial skills and competencies and (3) facilitate access to markets. To-date, the number of women agents in Jordan is minimal, possibly hindering the uptake of digital financial services by more women. As such, increasing the number of skilled female mobile money agents will play a catalytic role in increasing financial inclusion among women in Jordan.

Disability Data App (DDA) in Cambodia

Social Health Protection Program (SHP), GIZ Cambodia

Challenge: 10% of the Cambodian population experience at least some degree of difficulties in performing basic functions, while those with disabilities continue to face major inequalities. An absence of data about people with disabilities makes it difficult to effectively advocate for their inclusion and actively target them by government and civil society.

Objective: The long-term goal of DDA is to enable people with disabilities to participate in, and benefit equally and equitably from, a more inclusive Cambodian society. The specific objective is to empower the disability movement in Cambodia by using self-collected data for awareness raising and advocacy to influence service providers as well as local and national decision makers.

Target Group: Disabled People’s Organisations, representing people with disabilities, are the primary target group.

Ways of implementation: The project will develop a mobile Disability Data App to allow Disabled People’s Organisations to collect data from the perspective of people with disabilities. By using self-collected data and profiles, Disabled People’s Organisations will be able to conduct well-planned, targeted and evidence-based awareness raising campaigns and advocate for change towards inclusion at local and national levels.

Fried Lammerink presenting his project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Franziska Gehrmann and Nils Fürköther presenting their project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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From trash to cash – through crowdsourcing and local economic development to social inclusion of marginalised groups in Mauritania

Programme de Renforcement de la Décentralisation et des Finances Publiques, GIZ Mauritania

Challenge: Slavery was criminalised in Mauritania in 2007. The population of the Haratin, former slaves or descendants of slaves, constitutes 40% of the overall population in the Tagant region. The region belongs to Mauritania’s poorest areas, and the quality and quantity of local service delivery is weak due to a low revenue base in the municipalities and weak capacities of local authorities to mobilise sources of revenue.

Objective: The main objective is to improve the quality of local waste management by combining crowdsourcing and local economic development, while at the same time making women-led Haratin households less vulnerable to extreme poverty.

Target Group: Haratin women, and in particular women-led Haratin households, are the target group of this project as they are disproportionally affected by discrimination, low quality local services, and extreme poverty.

Ways of implementation: The project will use a combined approach to improve local waste management: crowdsourcing meets local economic development. It creates a win-set between local government and its citizens by enhancing the quality of service delivery, creating employment, boosting the local economy and improving social inclusion. A competition, which will be judged by an official committee, will be held to choose the best ideas on how to generate income from waste recycling. In a second step, the winning ideas will be implemented in coordination with local authorities, women’s cooperatives and the target group so that they contribute to the quality of local waste management.

Improving the Accessibility of TVET Schools in Mongolia

Cooperative Vocational Training in the Mineral Resource Sector Project, GIZ Mongolia

Challenge: Of Mongolia’s three million inhabitants, over 100,000 live with some type of disability. One-third of them live in the capital Ulaanbaatar, which also hosts the only Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) school that provides courses to people with disabilities. The remaining 85 vocational schools in the country do not cater to those with disabilities, nor are their premises accessible for people with disabilities. Thus, the majority of people with disabilities do not currently have satisfactory access to formal quality vocational education.

Objective: The project aims to improve the accessibility of vocational schools in Mongolia. People with disabilities will have a better chance of receiving a formal quality vocational training, and will thus improve their employment options and living standards. Additionally, planned activities will help to increase public awareness and strengthen the social inclusion of people with disabilities.

Target Group: The project targets (young) people with disabilities. Additional beneficiaries are: university and vocational students from the construction sector, as well as unemployed Mongolians who will boost their employability by acquiring practical construction skills in the process of making the selected vocational schools accessible for all.

Ways of implementation: The project will develop a mobile app and a website to enable TVET schools to perform self-assessments. A joint renovation competition (a ‘Buildathon’) will be launched among university students and vocational schools to improve accessibility at selected schools. Upon successful external assessment of the improvements, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, in partnership with Disabled People’s Organisations, will award the selected school(s) with Accessibility Certification.

Mungunsor Chimeddorj and Navchaa Tumurbaatar presenting their project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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Alejandro Manriquez and Cristian Franco Canseco presenting their project at the kick-off workshop in Berlin, 15 June 2018, © GIZ.

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LNOB Benchmarking

El Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social (CONEVAL) and Iniciativa Agenda 2030 (GIZ Mexico)

Challenge: Although Mexico is making progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, it still faces multiple challenges. One key issue relates to the implementation of the ‘leave no one behind’ (LNOB) principle, including addressing extreme poverty and income inequalities. From this perspective, there are several local level opportunities for improved government action and enhanced public sector accountability, particularly with respect to poverty and discrimination.

Objective: The project aims to make the LNOB performance of each municipality transparent, thereby enabling citizens to compare outcomes and demand improved public services

Target Group: The platform will address local decision makers and citizens concerned with the performance of local government in LNOB-related issues. At the same time, it will work as a decision-making tool for municipalities and civil society organisations that represent or work with vulnerable groups (e.g. indigenous communities).

Ways of implementation: The project will design and implement a comprehensive strategy leading to a local government ‘benchmark competition’ for the best LNOB-performance. This will involve developing and disseminating a digital platform, which will enable citizens to access local government information and compare municipalities’ performances. In summary, the LNOB benchmarking will be implemented through three components: (1) an interactive digital platform, (2) a communication campaign and (3) peer-learning mechanisms to foster the use of the platform and the exchange of best practices between the relevant actors.