Australian nonprofits win grants to fight poverty with technology

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Mon, 2017-02-20 08:43 -- Compassionate C...

Through its philanthropic arm, Google spends millions on worthy efforts around the world, but the one discussed below caught our attention because it is reportedly the first time a government --  in this case Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) – has partnered with Google.org to deliver a prize through the tech giant's Impact Challenge.  What's also notable is that several of these nonprofits are not only using technology to fight poverty in specific communities, but they are testing the viability of replicating the projects elsewhere. – Philip Bane


The DFAT Technology Against Poverty Prize is a $500,000 grant provided by InnovationXchange as part of the 2016 Google Impact Challenge. Announced last week by Julie Bishop, Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, the prize encourages nonprofits registered in Australia to explore new ways of delivering social impact internationally, using technology.

InnovationXchange was established by DFAT to catalyze and support innovation across the Australian aid program and is particularly focused on how technology can make lives better in the Asia Pacific region. The aim is to encourage new international development solutions that are cheaper, faster and more effective.

“Australia is the first government to partner with Google.org to deliver a prize as part of the Impact Challenge, which is conducted worldwide to support local non-profit innovators to use technology to solve key social and development problems,” Bishop said in ProBono Australia article.

Here's a look at how the four nonprofits will use their prize money as explained on the InnovativeXchange website:

Oxfam Australia: Piloting electronic banking in the Philippines
Oxfam's I AFFORD Project is partnering with the Philippines Central Bank and others to pilot a new electronic payment system. With seven in 10 Filipinos having no access to banks or other formal financial institutions, the program will enable them to bank savings, transfer cash safely and cheaply, and make cashless payments for goods and services. The goal is to increase people's resilience to financial shocks and help break the cycle of poverty.

Engineers Without Borders Australia: Improving access to clean water in Timor-Leste
A new water treatment technology coupled with a micro-business model aims to help the Southeast Asian nation meet its goal of ensuring access to clean water for all of its residents by 2030. The Lafaek Water project will support 20 young people to treat, sell and distribute drinking water for communities and businesses. The end goal is to provide a safe and reliable water supply for 25,000 residents – 15,000 of them children – and to determine if the model can viably expand to other countries.

40K: Enhancing education in India and Cambodia
Improving lives by improving access to education is the goal of the 40K PLUS project that will provide quality educational materials on tablets, delivered by "local facilitators who are passionate about helping children to learn." Noting that its potential is in its scalability, 40K hopes to reach thousands of children in Cambodia and India in the next two years and ultimately over a million children in the next 10 years. The nonprofit says its goal is to enhance children's education to improve their income-earning potential and lift communities out of poverty.

Univ. of Technology Sydney - Removing arsenic from polluted groundwater
Drinking water contaminated with arsenic is a serious public health threat and some 137 million people globally are exposed to it. The University of Technology Sydney has created a new filtration system that is low-cost, easy to operate, built using locally sourced materials and operates using renewable energy. To date, according to the university, it is the only sustainable system available that is able to provide arsenic-free water and manage the arsenic residues produced during the filtration process. It will be piloted in Vietnam's Red River Delta, allowing residents to filter groundwater for safe, clean drinking water. It's hoped the project will be a model for other locales with contaminated drinking water.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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