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[NAIROBI] Up to 13 climate change start-ups in Kenya have received a cash prize of US$82,500 for innovations that could help vulnerable communities.
The Climate Information Prize (CIP) awarded the cash prizes this month (6 April) to boost new solutions that use climate information and data targeting vulnerable communities in Kenya’s eastern, north-eastern and Rift Valley regions.

“The winning innovations have the potential to become vibrant and profitable businesses for sustainability.”

Slater Jonty, CIP


According to Slater Jonty, the CIP director, of the 115 innovators who applied for funding, 13 emerged winners. “The 13 had the potential of reaching more people, were sustainable and benefited the vulnerable group,” Jonty says.
The first prize of US$15,000 was awarded to Sam Owilly of Pawa-Farm for a project on climate conditions that enable farmers make informed decisions and improve farm management practices.
“The CIP money will enable us reach more people in Makueni County from the 1,500 we are currently working with to at least 5,000. It will also help us scale up the project to the other counties,” Owilly says.
Denis Odera of WeFarm received the second prize of US$10,000. WeFarm enables farmers access information on agriculture and climate change through text messages and receive crowd-sourced information from farmers.
“With the CIP cash, WeFarm will trial providing climate information to all networks of farmers through text messages across the country in conjunction with the Kenya Meteorological office,” says Odera, adding that the aim is to increase food production in the country.
Kyamatu Climate Smart Village of Grace Mativo got the third prize of US$7,500 for localised climate information for improved food security, water management and access to reliable energy to people. The other 10 runner up innovators got US$5,000 each.
“The winning innovations have the potential to become vibrant and profitable businesses for sustainability,” Jonty says.
The second grand competition, Tekeleza Prize will be awarded in 2018 with more innovators joining the 13 to compete for the jackpot prize of US$200,000,” Jonty tells SciDev.Net. “The challenge targeted the vulnerable communities because they are the people adversely affected by the weather and climate changes and often lack the means to protect themselves against the effects.”
James Kongoti, director, Kenya Meteorological Department, says the CIP challenge used the climate information data from his outfit. Michele Leone, a climate change specialist from the Kenya office of the Canada-based International Development Research Centre, explains that the challenge with the available climate change innovations is how to access them, understand and apply them directly to livelihoods.
“CIP will encourage more innovators to come up with ways to bridge the gap and enhance their resilience to climate risks,” Leone adds.
Anjali Saini, an expert from the Kenya-headquartered Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, says that CIP has opened doors for an innovative way of facilitating sustainable development and making communities resilient to climate change.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.