Students & Campus
26 September 2022

Geneva Challenge 2022 Finalists – The Challenges of Poverty Reduction

Each year, the Advancing Development Goals International Contest for Graduate Students invites teams of graduate students from all academic programmes to devise innovative and pragmatic solutions to key international issues. The ninth edition of the Geneva Challenge focused on “The Challenges of Poverty Reduction”, inviting innovative, crosscutting proposals for reducing poverty worldwide. 

279 teams composed of 1,065 graduate students from 64 different nationalities and 100 different universities registered to take part in the competition. In the end, teams with 344 participants from all over the world submitted 86 projects, out of which 18 semi-finalists were selected. The high-level jury of experts has now chosen five finalist teams, one per continent, who will be invited to Geneva on November 22nd for the Award Ceremony. 

Team from Africa: Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences- Including Climate Change (PAUWES)

  • JACCA Agro-Warehouse Integrated Solutions: Sustainable Agriculture has been identified by the World Bank and the United Nations as a veritable tool for alleviating rural poverty, as agriculture is the major source of livelihood for the majority in rural settlements. Poor agro-food value chains, magnified by the exploitative activities of middlemen is the major limitation to the profitability of rural farmers. JACCA Agro-Warehouse Integrated Solutions seeks to address this challenge by providing warehousing and storage facilities to reduce post-harvest losses and mitigate marketing challenges, serving as a node linking rural farmers with urban markets and subsequently, international markets. Through digitalisation, their warehouse receipt solution is designed to engage stakeholders in a transparent system of direct trade. It will also aid access to financial support for the farmers, while they provide them with capacity-building and mentorship to ensure all-year-round productivity for sustainable agricultural development and economic growth in rural Africa. This has direct impacts on the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2: “No Poverty” and “Zero Hunger”. JACCA Agro-Warehouse Integrated Solutions is to be piloted in the North-West of Cameroon; it is designed to be scalable to the entire sub-Saharan Africa and it can also be assimilated by other regions comparable to Africa like rural Asia and rural Australia.

Team from Asia: University of the Philippines Diliman, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

  • ePASADA: The public utility vehicle (PUV) transportation sector is among the most heavily stricken groups during the coronavirus crisis. In the Philippines, an estimated half a million Jeepney drivers have either temporarily or permanently lost their jobs due to drastic changes in mobility options and activity systems. This in turn resulted in a disrupted source of income – with some of these drivers resorting to begging on the curb to afford basic commodities. The ePasada is a multipoint platform that aims to retrofit and futureproof this sector by integrating smart transportation components, resiliency training programmes, and alternative income generation schemes. All of these shall be delivered through a multipoint open access platform (mobile application) that offers both logistical solutions and incubation programmes. ePASADA is a smart technology project to support humanism and empowerment in a vulnerable sector of Philippine society: the Jeepney drivers and their families. The University of the Philippines Campus in the Diliman, Quezon City serves as the pilot site for the project as it fits the degree of land use and mobility complexity needed to establish a proof of concept. Moving forward, the team is looking into the possibility of implementing the programme on a city-level scale or to explore its multiplicity through other transportation modes.

Team from Europe: London School of Economics, London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

  • Project Connect: The first step out of poverty and mitigation of social inequality could be the improved penetration of the welfare schemes already in place which would not increase the fiscal pressure on the government. To achieve this, the team proposes a simple solution whereby the government high school students of the local community in India will identify eligible but unenrolled individuals and provide them information about welfare schemes during household visits. This will be done over two months voluntarily as a summer internship. To carry out this activity the students will be provided training at the school by teachers based on the training modules created by them. This activity will be carried out with permission and in agreement with the district administration and senior bureaucrats, and it will be supplemented with advanced mediation by partner NGOs. The aim is to implement this project in two districts in the state of Jharkhand, India because it has the second-highest poverty headcount ratio and has hundreds of welfare schemes with low enrolment rates. With this as a proof of concept, which will highlight its easy scalability and sustainability, they aim to broaden the implementation of their model in other districts and more partner NGOs.

Team from North America and Oceania: Columbia University

  • Sahaja Project: On average, waste pickers in Indonesia earn USD 91 monthly. However, these generalised findings are unable to depict the poorer circles within the waste picker community itself who work on a daily basis with severe inefficiency and unorganised flow of work. These poorer circles suffer severely from having a monthly income between USD 22-30 to support three to five family members. This extremely low income is due to; 1) uncertain availability of sellable waste and 2) waste pickers’ inability to strategise routes or/and posts for waste picking. Sahaja sees the normally inefficient and unorganised process of waste picking by Indonesian waste pickers as a space for policy intervention. The team at Sahaja decided that a modest intervention of preventing random picking and organising their day-to-day flow of work and is the very key solution to increase and stabilise their income, hence eventually improving their overall wellbeing. In addition, they also explore the idea of plastic credit to increase the income of waste pickers.

Team from Latin America: Paulista State University "Júlio de Mesquita Filho" (UNESP)

  • What a Waste (Water)!: Poverty is a multidimensional concept, which includes lack of access to sanitation services, and is more pronounced in developing countries. In Brazil, especially in São Paulo, the process of urbanisation was characterised by accelerated growth with no proper planning and informal settlements, with low access to basic public services such as sanitation. Therefore, as a way of reducing poverty, this project proposes the adoption of a decentralised wastewater treatment system composed of constructed wetlands, considered a nature-based solution, in combination with septic tanks for favelas in Brazil. Besides providing people adequate sanitation services, the project involves environmental education, technical training and community participation in all its stages, prioritising women and/or non-Caucasian people, reducing gender and racial disparities and creating jobs.

The 2022 Geneva Challenge Award Ceremony will be held at the Maison de la paix on Tuesday 22 November at 18:30 in the presence of Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board and Former Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Earlier that day, from 13:15-16:15, the finalists will give their public oral presentations. 

This year’s winning project will be awarded CHF 10,000; the two teams in second place will receive CHF 5,000 each and the two teams in third place, CHF 2,500 each.

More details about all five projects and further information on this year’s Challenge can be found on our website.