CARE Cornell Impact Through Innovation Funds

CARE Cornell Impact Through Innovation Funds

Publication info


Cornell University and CARE have established a strategic collaboration (CARE-Cornell) to advance sustainable food systems that strengthen the resilience of chronically food-insecure women and their families to fight hunger and adapt to climate change. At the heart of the collaboration is a grant program -- The Impact through Innovation Fund -- that leverages the strength of CARE's staff in country with the research capacity at Cornell so that both can more effectively advance solutions to some of the more intractable challenges in developing countries.

The Impact through Innovation Fund (IIF) builds capacity within each organization to respond to emerging and critical development challenges. Successful IIF projects demonstrate new concepts, pilot applications of scientific discoveries, test CARE interventions so real-world practice can shape development policy or programming, develop tools to improve sustainable and equitable development programming, or build research and development capacity at both CARE and Cornell. Small IIF projects build teams and methods across the two organizations to achieve these outcomes. Take a look at some of the projects we've funded so far.

Ethiopia: Alternative Fertilizers Using Indigenous Value Chains in Ethiopia (2012-2014)

John Meyer, Chief of Party, Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development Program, CARE Ethiopia, and Johannes Lehmann, School of Integrative Plant Science, Crop and Soil Sciences Section, Cornell University

In sub-Saharan Africa, crop growth is often limited by a lack of effective and affordable fertilizers.  Imported commercial fertilizers are too expensive to be used in amounts that maximize crop growth.  In addition, the government tightly controls importation, distribution and sales of commercial fertilizers, leading to access challenges for the poorest households. The Ethiopia IIF project team developed local biofertilizers from local waste products—charred livestock bone—and tested their effectiveness and acceptability among farmers.  These local fertilizers are as effective as and less expensive than imported fertilizers and enable more sustainable farming. Smallscale farmers have expressed interest in the alternative fertilizers, and the team is continuing to explore the viability of the fertilizer in the market place.

Mozambique: Comencando Saudavel (Starting off healthy): A pilot study on the effects of performance-based incentives on the provision of PMTCT services in Inhambane Province, Mozambique (2012-2014)

Delphine Pinault, Assistant Country Director, CARE Mozambique, and Sera Young, College of Human Ecology, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

This pilot study tested how providing performance-based financial incentives to health care workers on the frontline could improve delivery of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.  The research results showed increased cooperation among staff within and between health centers to coordinate maternal and child health care, specifically for referring pregnant women for health care and transporting them to a delivery ward.  The project also increased health worker ownership of facility processes, and health workers by and large opted to reinvest a portion of the financial incentive into the health center to address ongoing challenges that hinder better service delivery.

Zambia: One Health for Babies and Livestock: Defining and Testing Solutions to Prevent Fecal Exposure and Environmental Enteropathy (2014-2015)

Jenny Orgle, Nutrition at the Center, CARE USA, and Rebecca Stoltzfus, College of Human Ecology, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

Malnutrition in childhood leaves permanent negative cognitive and physical development impacts, resulting in poor future school performance and reduced lifetime earnings. Almost one-third of babies in sub-Saharan Africa is stunted or anemic as a result of malnutrition. Livestock and animal husbandry are important to families’ livelihoods and well-being but contaminate soils with fecal bacteria, to which children are exposed in play spaces. These bacteria cause intestinal disease in children, leading to malnutrition. The Zambia IIF project team is engaging families to identify and test strategies to reduce infants’ and children’s contact with livestock manure in home and play environments using methods that are feasible, low-cost, locally acceptable, and sustainable. Strategies being tested include a play space designed by Cornell faculty and play spaces available in the public market.

Peru: The Role of Andean Indigenous Crops in Climate Adaptation and Food Security in the Mantaro Valley of Central Peru (2015-2017)

Walter Vilchez, CARE Peru, and David R. Lee, Cornell University

Climate change poses a significant threat to agriculture, economic livelihoods and food security in the Mantaro Valley and in the Shullcas River sub-basin, where households depend on rainfall and glacial meltwater as a source of irrigation and drinking water. The aim of this research is to examine the role of Andean indigenous crops in improving food security and adaptation to climate change among poor rural households in the Mantaro River Valley of central Peru. Through an integrated household production, consumption and nutrition survey, research will evaluate linked indicators and outcomes of climate vulnerability, food consumption, dietary diversity, food security, nutritional status, and gender roles. Research will improve understanding of the multidimensional role of unique local agro-biodiversity and inform programming in climate adaptation and poverty alleviation.


Ethiopia: Achieving ‘Nexus Development’: Addressing Challenges to Small-Scale Farming in the Argoba Woreda, Ethiopia (2015-2017)

Helen Pankhurst, Senior Water Resources Advisor for CARE, Senior Adviser to CARE Ethiopia and Tammo Steenhuis and Fouad Makki, Cornell University

Current critical thinking on natural resource management and climate change is influenced by so-called 'nexus’ thinking, where specific attention is paid to the synergies and trade-offs between the supply and demand of water, food and energy resources (Waughray 2011). Yet little attention has been given to operationalizing nexus thinking into what might be termed “nexus development.” The aim of this research is to facilitate a “nexus development” approach in the Argoba Woreda by developing workable strategies and testable models capable of realistically simulating the physical, social, and institutional characteristics of the region, and predicting the cascading effects of particular development and conservation measures.