Amref among top 100 proposals for $100 million MacArthur Grant

Boy entering bathroom

(Photo: Amref Health Africa/Jeroen Van Loon)

March 3, 2020 — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation unveiled today that Amref Health Africa submitted one of the highest-scoring proposals, designated as the Top 100, in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world’s most critical social challenges.

Amref Health Africa’s proposed project will carry out a proven, sustainable sanitation model called the Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation & Health (FINISH) which addresses the achievement of SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation for all). It is aimed at mobilizing communities, governments, and businesses to construct improved toilets across Africa and Asia, with a mission to achieve sanitation for all.

70% of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to a safe toilet, and as a result, poor sanitation and hygiene contributes to at least 289,000 deaths caused by diarrhea among children under five years old. The World Health Organization predicts that there will be thousands of additional deaths every year due to the changing climate, largely linked to preventable diseases associated with poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

The partnership aims to reduce diarrheal diseases by at least 5%; reduce medical costs related to diarrhea; promote the privacy and dignity of women and girls; generate agricultural compost and create jobs. The proposed model is explained in this video below:

The Top 100 represent the top 21 percent of competition submissions. The proposals were rigorously vetted, undergoing MacArthur’s initial administrative review, a Peer-to-Peer review, an evaluation by an external panel of judges, and a technical review by specialists whose expertise was matched to the project.

Each proposal was evaluated using four criteria: impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and durable. MacArthur’s Board of Directors will select up to 10 finalists from these high-scoring proposals this spring.

“Our vision is to facilitate the building of over five million improved toilets serving over 25 million beneficiaries and bringing down diarrhea cases. Through this, 2.2 million tons of compost for Agriculture will be generated and create over 273,000 job opportunities for unemployed youth within sub-Saharan Africa. Each dollar invested in the FINISH model is going to unlock four dollars in co-investment in sanitation,” said Dr. Githiji Gitahi, Amref Health Africa Global Chief Executive Officer.

MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the Top 100,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur Managing Director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”

Since the inaugural competition, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $419 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants. Building on the success of 100&Change, MacArthur created Lever for Change to unlock significant philanthropic capital by helping donors find and fund vetted, high-impact opportunities through the design and management of customized competitions. In addition to 100&Change, Lever for Change is managing the Chicago Prize, the Economic Opportunity Challenge, and the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award.