The U.S. and Sweden Launch Grand Challenge for Development to Secure Water for Food

The program to fund and accelerate scientific and technological innovations to manage water in developing and emerging countries.

On September 3, 2013, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sweden’s development agency (Sida) announced a new program, Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development.

Through this $25 million program, USAID and Sida will fund and accelerate scientific and technological innovations that can be sustained with market-based approaches to more effectively use and manage the water required to produce food in developing and emerging countries.

Funding will be provided to science and technology innovators, entrepreneurs, businesses, and academics to accelerate the best solutions in three key areas that impact food production: water reuse and efficiency, water capture and storage, and salinity. Support will also be provided to facilitate the adoption of these solutions in new and emerging markets.

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing global challenges. Approximately 2.8 billion people—more than 40% of the world’s populations—are affected by water scarcity. As more than 70% of the world’s water is used in agriculture, global food security is particularly hampered by the lack of available water.

“By harnessing the expertise and creativity of the world's brightest innovators, we can tackle this critical challenge with new thinking and partnerships,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator. “Securing Water for Food represents exactly the kind of effort we hope to inspire through USAID's new and first-ever global water and development strategy that we launched this past May.”

“In a finite biosphere, solutions to pressing water challenges require new thinking and innovative financing”, said Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish Minister for Development Cooperation. “I am excited about the possibilities of this new initiative made possible through the close cooperation between Sweden and USAID.”

To date, USAID and Sida have pooled over $100 million with other partners to fund three Grand Challenges for Development, demonstrating our mutual commitment to science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Learn more about the Grand Challenges for Development program at