SWFF Delegation in Amsterdam, November 2015 | Photo by Adrienne Norman
SWFF Delegation in Amsterdam, November 2015 | Photo by Adrienne Norman

A Grand Challenge For Development

Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development helps farmers around the world grow more food using less water, enhance water storage, and improve the use of saline water and soil to produce food by ensuring that the entrepreneurs and scientists behind groundbreaking new approaches are getting the support they need to apply and expand their solutions around the world.

Promoting Science and Technology Solutions

Since 2013, USAID, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Government of South Africa, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands have invested $34 million and provided critical acceleration support to promote science and technology solutions that enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.

280000
Hectares of land under improved practices
75
Support engagements delivered to date
10.7
Million+ leveraged by SWFF awardees in 60+ additional partnerships

Founding Partners

USAID, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands launched the Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge for Development the first week of September 2013 during World Water Week in Stockholm.

Securing Water for Food and its new partner – the Department of Science and Technology, South Africa – has worked to identify and accelerate science and technology innovations and market-driven approaches that improve water sustainability to boost food security and ultimately alleviate poverty. The goal of the Challenge is to enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.

Dr. Ku McMahan

Dr. Ku McMahan

US Agency for International Development, United States

Dr. Ku McMahan received his Ph.D. in environmental sciences and an M.P.H. in environmental health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under NSF and EPA STAR Fellowships. He received a B.A. in environmental sciences and policy. In addition, he developed a simple, low-cost water quality test for developing countries and emergency situations. Ku was recently a program executive officer for the USAID WA-WASH program in GLOWS and assistant professor of research at Florida International University.

Currently, he serves as Team Lead for Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development in the US Global Development Lab at USAID. SWFF is a $32M partnership between USAID, South Africa, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Marion van Schaik

Marion van Schaik

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands

Marion van Schaik only three years ago dove into the water (sector), after having worked in agriculture, forestry, reproductive health and politics before. She is a forestry engineer by training, Wageningen University, and worked in private, non-governmental, academic and government institutions in Africa, US and the Netherlands.

Now, she is passionate about integrated water resources management and focuses on water policy development, river basin programs, landscape projects, and water efficiency innovations. She works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

Pia Lindström

Pia Lindström

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sweden

Pia Lindström is a program manager at the Unit for Global Economy and Environment at Sida, primarily working with challenge funds within the fields of environment and climate change including resilience.

She holds a M.Sc. degree in International Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics and a B.Sc. in Political Science from Stockholm University. She has previously worked with the EU Commission/EuropeAid on corporate social responsibility issues and has for six years been based in the field in Bhutan and India working for the UNDP as well as managing local NGOs focusing on climate smart agriculture, sustainable waste management, appropriate technologies including sustainable energy and water projects, and youth social entrepreneurship programs.

Dr. Isayvani Naicker

Dr. Isayvani Naicker

Department of Science and Technology, South Africa

Dr. Isayvani Naicker is the Chief Director of International Resources in the National Department of Science and Technology in South Africa. Her career has developed from scientist/researcher across technical areas to senior international scientific resources manager and partner, scientific advisor and reviewer. Project experiences focused on looking at bridging the gaps between science, research and policy working with senior government officials and Ministers, scientific partners, policy-makers/donors in the African region and internationally.

She has a Ph.D. in Science Policy from the University of Cambridge and Masters Degrees in Geology and Computer Science and Philosophy of Social Science from the University of Cape Town and London School of Economics respectively.

Technical Assistance Facility

Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (SWFF) through its Technical Assistance Facility, a project of The Kaizen Company, provides financial and acceleration support to the game-changing innovators who work at the nexus of water and agriculture. This hybrid incubator-accelerator helps innovators improve their market-driven business development, commercial growth, and scaling.

The SWFF TA Facility consults and works hand-in-hand with each Grand Challenge innovator to identify their specific barriers to hitting targets and scaling their technologies, and then connects them high-impact service providers that bring the capabilities, global presence, and specific country knowledge to help them overcome those barriers.

The TA Facility also works with partners along the food value chain to test and market innovations, and to provide needs-based and tailored services to help the innovators address one of the world’s most pressing development challenges.

Dr. Donna Vincent Roa

Dr. Donna Vincent Roa

Chief of Party

An internationally accredited business communicator (ABC) and certified development project manager (CDPM®), Dr. Donna Vincent Roa is the author of numerous articles and three books including The Value of Water: A Compendium of Essays by Smart CEOs. Donna has worked previously as a management and branding consultant for international organizations, EPA’s Public Affairs Director and Director of Science Communication, and a social scientist with USIA. Globally recognized as a champion for water, sustainability, agriculture and the environment, she was one of 10 social scientists to conduct research in world capitals for the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s first redesign of the $100 bill.

As Chief of Party for the SWFF TA Facility, she is catalyzing social impact entrepreneurship in the water-ag nexus. She holds a Ph.D. in international communication, has worked and travelled in nearly 40 countries, and appreciates being called a multipotentialite.

Kevan Hayes

Kevan Hayes

Acceleration Facilitator

Kevan Hayes received his M.B.A. in Information Systems and his B.B.A. in Finance from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Kevan has extensive experience providing strategic advisory to senior leaders of Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies in the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

His career focus has been helping clients identify, prioritize, and implement process improvement and knowledge management solutions to increase productivity and improve decision making. As Acceleration Facilitator for the SWFF TA Facility, he recruits and manages a global network of consultancies and subject matter experts to provide technical assistance and diagnoses innovators' challenges to scale, connecting them to support resources they need.

Rami Khyami

Rami Khyami

Grants & Contracts Specialist

Rami Khyami holds a B.Sc. in Banking and Finance from the Amman Al Ahlia University in Jordan and speaks Arabic fluently. Rami has extensive working experience with FAR, OMB circulars, AIDAR, GAAP, and CAS . He also managed financial operations for both profit and 501(c)3 tax non-profit organizations, supported annual DCAA audits, corporate private audits, and USAID financial reviews.

Rami served on long and short-term field assignments in various countries around the world to establish operations in field offices, conducted annual reviews and internal audits. He established creative and innovative tools to streamline processes, ensure quality and timeliness of reporting, and reduce financial risks. Currently, Rami serves as the Grants & Contracts Specialist for SWFF TA Facility.

Steve Simon

Steve Simon

M&E Specialist

Stephen Simon holds two degrees in Economics and Political Science (B.A.) from the University of Maryland, College Park. He has performed fieldwork as a refugee educator in Thailand and M&E consultant in Haiti, and most recently worked as a DC-based project manager for conflict mitigation and institutional capacity building projects in the West Bank and Iraq, as well as a coordinator for a community of practice for educators in Haiti.

He is currently the M&E Specialist for the SWFF program, providing technical assistance to all SWFF awardees and ensuring that robust data are captured to inform decision-making at all levels of the program.

Cassy Rodriguez

Cassy Rodriguez

Jr. Program Coordinator

Cassy Rodriguez is an international development professional with experience in community-based forest management and the water and agriculture sector. As the Program Coordinator for SWFF, Cassy provides support to the SWFF Team Lead and the TA Facility and serves as liaison with internal and external partners.

Prior to joining SWFF, she worked as a Program Coordinator at the NYU School of Law. As a graduate student, she conducted fieldwork in South Africa, Zambia and Peru. She holds an M.S. in International Development from New York University and is a Magna Cum Laude B.A graduate in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from Stony Brook University.

Julia Hedlund

Julia Hedlund

The Kaizen Company Home Office SWFF Project Manager

Julia Hedlund is Kaizen's home office project manager for the Securing Water for Food: Technical Assistance Facility. In her capacity, she ensures timely delivery of project deliverables, monitors subcontractors’ performance, recruits short and long-term personnel, drafts consultant agreements, subcontracts, and purchase order contracts, and responds to and ensures good relations with USAID Contract Officer’s Representative (COR).

Nicolle deBaroncelli

Nicolle deBaroncelli

The Kaizen Company Home Office SWFF Program Management Coordinator

Liz Heller

Liz Heller

The Kaizen Company Home Office SWFF Program Management Coordinator

Liz Heller is a Program Management Coordinator at Kaizen's home office in Washington, DC. At Kaizen Liz provides backstopping assistance on a number of USAID-funded projects, contributes to the company’s strategic initiatives and supports proposal development and coordination.

Prior to joining Kaizen, Liz worked in Beijing, China as a Program Manager with the JUMP Foundation, a small non-profit social enterprise. At JUMP she managed youth programs focused on leadership, team-building and personal development including a six-week summer program for underserved American high school students who received full scholarships through the US State Department to study in China. As a graduate student Liz worked with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) on governance and political transition programming in Asia and the Middle East.

Liz holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University.