• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Rockefeller Foundation commits $35m to Covid-19 response efforts in Africa

Covid-19 testing

The Rockefeller Foundation has announced an initial $34.95 million to ensure more equitable access to Covid-19 testing and vaccines; leverage innovation, data, machine-learning; combat the escalating food crisis; and scale up access to renewable energy in Africa.

Collaborating with 24 organisations, businesses, and government agencies, this pan-African effort will also focus on nine countries – Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

The announcement comes 100 days after the Foundation’s landmark commitment of $1 billion over three years to help end the Covid-19 pandemic and drive a more inclusive and sustainable global recovery.

“Since The Rockefeller Foundation first opened its Africa Regional Office in Nairobi in 1966, the region has remained a top priority for us,” said Rajiv J. Shah, president, The Rockefeller Foundation.

“With this initial round of funding, we are beginning to deliver on our billion-dollar pledge to help end the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa and for us all, while investing in wealth-building opportunities for those who have been shut out of economic progress and are bearing the brunt of this pandemic,” Shah said.

William Asiko, managing director and head of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional Office, said they are pleased that The Rockefeller Foundation is committing over $30 million to ensure a sustainable, equitable Covid-19 response in Africa.

“A significant portion of this funding will benefit the Africa CDC’s effort to accelerate testing and tracing in several countries across the continent. These efforts will allow Governments at national and subnational levels to make informed policy decisions about lifting restrictions on movement and thereby re-opening economic activity,” Asiko said.

Closing the health inequity gap – Covid-19 testing, innovation, and investment

The largest portion of the pan-African commitment goes to the Africa Public Health Foundation to support the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC). Announced last week in the lead-up to the agency’s fourth anniversary, the Foundation provided a $12 million grant to expand the geographic availability of testing centres to both urban and rural areas as well as strengthen community level tracing efforts, and enhance data infrastructure through the Africa CDC’s Partnership to Accelerate Covid-19 Testing (PACT).

In addition to PACT, the Foundation is supporting a range of organisations working all across the continent, including:

· Ending Pandemics to scale the crowdsourced epidemic intelligence platform, EpiCore, and support EAIDSNet in Tanzania to improve their abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks through a One Health approach;

· Lacuna Fund, a project of Meridian, awarded funding to six teams across the continent to build locally representative datasets to reduce bias in machine learning tools for agriculture analytics, fuelling an equitable recovery for farmers;

· Malaria No More to establish a guarantee facility through The Health Finance Coalition to unlock working capital for private small and medium size healthcare providers in Africa;

· Praekelt.org to launch an initiative to integrate Ada’s AI-powered health assessments into the South African National Department of Health’s MomConnect platform with potential to provide over 1 million mothers and young children across South Africa with access to intelligent healthcare technology;

· Shining Hope for Communities to expand Covid-19 testing and tracing efforts in Kenyan Informal Settlements because Covid-19 poses even greater risks to those living in densely populated communities with less access to healthcare and sanitation services;

· Speak Up Africa to encourage and promote positive social behavior change to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Collaborating to combat the Covid-19 crisis and unlock access to opportunity

Covid-19 has deepened food insecurity and hunger across the world and in Africa. The World Food Programme estimates that hunger has doubled as a result of the pandemic, leaving more than 270 million people without enough to eat. The Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts focus on responding to the urgency of the Covid-19-triggered food crises while advancing more sustainable, nourishing, and equitable food systems across Africa.

Through The Rockefeller Foundation Catalytic Capital (RFCC), the Foundation’s new public charity, $5 million will support implementation of the Powering Agriculture and Protective Foods SME Innovation Accelerator. As the second RFCC venture overall, and first one in Africa, the Accelerator will provide technical and financial support to small- and medium-sized enterprises addressing the issues of availability, equitable access, and affordability for protective, healthy foods among poor and underserved communities on the continent.

To build food systems across Africa that are equipped to nourish people and sustain the planet’s resources, The Foundation is supporting organisations like:

· African Population and Health Research Center for developing an action plan to transition Nairobi’s food system to be more nourishing and sustainable by the year 2050 as part of the Food System Vision Prize;

· Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to strengthen food systems data and information generation while developing a platform to help governments better coordinate strategic responses to African food security;

· Darkpore Media Africa for outlining a multi-faceted plan to build a more regenerative and nourishing food system in southwest Nigeria as part of the Food System Vision Prize;

· Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to provide small- and medium-sized enterprises with the resources to sustain access to nutritious foods during the Covid-19 pandemic;

· International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to support researchers and stakeholders in East Africa to build more equitable and sustainable food systems while promoting healthy diets;

· Seed Systems Group to extend the benefits of improved seed and other technologies in order to create resilient, smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa;

· Vanguard Economics to increase the consumption of nutritious whole grains in vulnerable communities through safety net programs reaching more than three million students at schools in Rwanda.

For much of the world’s poor, a key impediment to their entry into a modern economy is a lack of access to reliable electricity. More than 75 percent of people without access to electricity today live in sub-Saharan Africa, and the pandemic has caused energy access rates to decrease here for the first time since 2013. In addition, barely a quarter of healthcare facilities have access to reliable power. Unlike traditional approaches to electrification, which has done little to expand access for the hundreds of millions of people in rural and peri-urban areas without power, the Foundation is investing in distributed renewable energy (DRE), which is local and inclusive.

DRE creates local jobs and drives economic inclusion and new opportunities in education, healthcare, agriculture, and small business. In support of these efforts, the Foundation is working with:

· Power for All to build national coalitions that can advance healthcare electrification with DRE in Zambia to start, with plans to expand to other priority countries;

· Odyssey Energy Solutions, and FactorE, alongside The Shell Foundation, to cut the cost of DRE and electrify health centers across the continent;

· CrossBoundary for a mini-grid learning lab that is focused on gathering and analyzing data to expedite the expansion of DRE projects in Africa;

· Konexa, to launch its integrated electricity distribution platform in Nigeria, which will also serve as a model for utilities across Africa to accelerate access to affordable and reliable power;

· Sustainable Energy for All to catalyse electricity connections by mini-grids in Africa through a new results-based financing facility, the Universal Energy Facility.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s commitment to reimagining the future

This is a time of tremendous economic, technological, and social change. An estimated 435 million people have been pushed deeper into poverty during the pandemic, and climate change is threatening decades of global progress. The Rockefeller Foundation’s catalytic $1 billion investment to reduce energy poverty and fight the Covid-19 pandemic reaffirms its commitment to building a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable future to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish.

As part of the Foundation’s goal to align its internal investment strategy and external values and mission, in December 2020 it announced a commitment to divest its own $5 billion endowment from existing fossil fuel interests while refraining from future fossil fuel investments.