News Release

Creating hope in conflict: A humanitarian grand challenge selects finalists

Grant and Award Announcement

Grand Challenges Canada

February 10, 2020, Toronto, Canada - Three finalists were announced today for the Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge Transition to Scale program. The Grand Challenge--supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands--calls on innovators around the world to submit ideas to save and improve the lives of the most-vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people affected by humanitarian crises caused by conflict.

The finalists, selected from 111 applicants, will receive a total of $3.7 million from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge. Each finalist identified solutions that will provide humanitarian assistance to help the most vulnerable and hardest to reach people affected by conflict.

The finalists are: Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Field Ready, and Hala Systems.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team: Missing Maps in Africa's Great Lakes region

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is an international team dedicated to humanitarian action and community development through open mapping. With millions of people living in unmapped areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Western Uganda, the HOT team will be mapping the region to provide accurate maps to help healthcare workers in their tracking, treatment, and prevention of Ebola.

With funding from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge, HOT, through a partnership with Maxar, will deploy machine-learning-based algorithms to create 160,000 km² of detailed maps of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Western Uganda, creating a single information data source that captures the homes of 4.1 million people - a valuable resource for all humanitarian agencies working in these two countries. HOT will also work with affected communities on the ground to map every village of the affected area in person, using local language names.

Since 2014, HOT's Missing Maps innovation has supported responses to 50 humanitarian crises, across over 20 countries, and have added an area home to 70 million people onto detailed maps.

Project Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda

Field Ready: Making essential items Field Ready

Conflict-affected populations and the aid workers that serve them do not have exactly what they need where and when they need it. Relief supplies and other essential items are too often unavailable or trapped in slow and expensive supply chains. As a result, lives are lost and suffering goes unaddressed. Field Ready is localizing the manufacturing and repair of essential relief and reconstruction items and equipment using various technologies and local resources. This networked and distributed way of working cuts across sectors and increases local resilience.

With funding from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge, Field Ready will increase and expand their catalogues of available parts and devices in Syria, service additional hospitals in Syria, and strengthen long-term sustainability through key partnerships and commercialization efforts.

Project Location: Syria

Hala Systems: Scaling Operations in Syria: An early warning system to save lives

Hala Systems (Hala) uses technology to save lives in conflict zones, counter disinformation, and support accountability efforts. Its focus to date has been largely civilian protection against the threat of airstrikes in Syria through Sentry Syria, an early warning system against airstrikes. The System provides an average of 7-10 minutes of warning to more than two million people. Additionally, data collected by Sentry constitutes the most complete record of the air war in Western Syria outside of a classified environment.

Sentry Syria uses trained civilian observers on the ground, strategically placed sensing devices, and artificial intelligence to identify and predict airstrikes. Once the data has been compiled, Sentry then alerts civilians of incoming airstrikes, using social media, radio stations, and physical air raid sirens. While it saves lives, it also documents evidence of attacks, and counters disinformation with credible ground truth in real time.

With funding from the Humanitarian Grand Challenge, Hala will refine and expand the reach and predictive capabilities of its life-saving technology.

Project Location: Syria


For more information on Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge, visit:

For more information, please contact:

Zeba Tasci
Associate Communications Officer, Humanitarian Grand Challenge

About the Humanitarian Grand Challenge

Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, with support from Grand Challenges Canada.


The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID's work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.

About DFID

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK's work to end extreme poverty. DFID are tackling the global challenges of our time including poverty and disease, mass migration, insecurity and conflict. Its work is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK too.

About the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands works to improve living conditions in poor, vulnerable countries and encouraging self-reliance. It tries to tackle global challenges, such as poverty and food scarcity, climate change and epidemics. In developing countries, the Ministry works on issues such as economic resilience, better healthcare, food security and clean drinking water.

About Grand Challenges Canada

One of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, Grand Challenges Canada has funded over 1,100 innovations championed by innovators in more than 95 countries since 2011. Grand Challenges Canada estimates that these innovations have the potential to save up to 1.6 million lives and improve up to 35 million lives by 2030.

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