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the muhammad yunus innovation challenge

Each year the Muhammad Yunus Innovation Challenge to Alleviate Poverty highlights a pressing need of the world’s poor and enables MIT students to develop solutions through a variety of mechanisms, including Public Service Fellowships, the IDEAS Global Challenge and D-Lab. The Challenge, named in honor of 2006 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, was initiated and is supported by MIT alumnus Mr. Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, benefactor of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT (J-PAL).

2013 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
Education Innovations

Education is a vital tool for low-income countries to improve quality of life for its citizens. Good education systems have been shown to foster economic growth, improve health, increase agricultural productivity and yield many other important benefits. The challenge is not simply to put students in the classroom, but to make sure that students learn the skills that they need to succeed after they finish school. The 2013 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for innovative and scalable education initiatives that produce a specific learning outcome focused on the youth in low-income countries. The solutions should complement the constraints of the local education system and involve both students and teachers in those communities.

2012 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
WASTE: Put it to Use

Waste is annually produced in scales of tons on earth. In 2009, the US alone produced 161 million tons of waste (the weight of approximately 71,500 space shuttles). Reducing and reusing this waste would save resources that are otherwise lost. In developing countries, waste and waste systems most profoundly affect the poorest populations. The 2012 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for innovative solutions to gaining value from waste, including both systems and technologies for improvements in (but not limited to): solid waste management, biowaste, electronic waste, medical equipment waste, wastewater, and industrial scrap, as well as the well-being of wastepickers and their livelihoods. Solutions should be designed for implementation in communities living at or below the poverty level.

2011 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
improved agricultural processes for better livelihoods

Around the world, 550 million smallholder farmers lack access to mechanized agricultural technology. Many important food staples like maize (corn) and grains (e.g., rice or wheat) are harvested and processed by hand, which is both labor intensive and time consuming. The 2011 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for locally and environmentally sustainable innovations to promote adoption of agricultural technologies so smallholder farmers can retain more value from their crops.

2010 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
promoting clean hands for health and prosperity

Millions of children die every year of diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections, which remain leading causes of preventable death, especially among the young in developing countries. Hands are a common vector for disease transmission, and the number of deaths could be cut dramatically if a simple method of cleaning hands were widely promoted and practiced. In addition to the obvious health benefits, associated economic benefits, such as reducing the amount of school and work days missed, would accrue as well. The 2010 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for innovative hygiene solutions to encourage clean hands among those living in poverty. Solutions should be designed for implementation in communities living at or below the poverty level.

2009 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
Affordable Small-scale Energy Storage Solutions

One in four people in the world lack access to electricity. Low-cost renewable energy systems are increasingly accessible to the world's poor, but batteries remain a costly, unsustainable way to store this energy. The 2009 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for small-scale energy storage solutions to help alleviate poverty. Solutions must address the needs of people living on less than $2 per day. Solutions are not limited to electrical storage; applicants are encouraged to consider other types of storage, such as storing thermal or mechanical energy. However, solutions should focus on storage and not on insulation or other energy-related issues.

2008 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
Improving Indoor Air Quality to Break the Cycle of Poverty

Indoor air quality is a concern around the world and affects predominantly the poor in their homes and workplaces. Exposure is strongly tied with burning solid fuels, a practice common to three billion people worldwide, half of whom are in India and China. In many African countries, more than 90% of the population uses solid fuel. Worldwide deaths attributed to air pollution are on a level with those caused by malaria and tuberculosis. Indoor air pollution kills 1.6 million people per year, yet efforts to prevent, monitor, improve the situation remain seriously understudied relative to other global health issues on a comparable level. There is ample opportunity for innovation in public awareness, technical interventions, monitoring programs, and more, to reach the estimated three billion poor worldwide who are affected by pollutant levels often 100 times greater than the recommended thresholds.The 2008 Yunus Innovation Challenge focuses on improving indoor air quality to break the cycle of poverty.

2007 muhammad yunus innovation challenge:
Increasing Adherence to Tuberculosis Drugs in Rural Developing Country Contexts

Adherence to medication regimens, or the extent to which patients take the drugs they are prescribed, is estimated at only 50% worldwide. This surprisingly common problem is the cause of both individual treatment failure and public health problems across a wide range of diseases and countries. TB kills an estimated 1.7 million people every year, yet the vast majority of cases are curable. Adherence to TB drugs is low and is a major driver of the epidemic. The most successful program geared to increase TB drug adherence, Directly Observed Therapy, Short-Course (DOTS) is relatively expensive and, in 2002, was available only to approximately 37% of people with TB.The 2007 Yunus Innovation Challenge calls for solutions that create a system that solves as many of the problems as possible that cause non-adherence to TB drugs in rural, developing country contexts, for the smallest cost possible.