Innovation prizes: incentivizing innovative solutions to water and sanitation challenges through prizes
This article presents the emerging learning from the action research Ideas to Impact programme, which is testing innovation prizes as a mechanism for incentivizing solutions and addressing long-standing challenges in the development sector. Innovation prizes have long been used to reward and incentivize innovation in the private sector, but are relatively new in their application to long-standing developmental problems. We explore the wider context of innovation prizes and their applicability within a development context. It is too early in the programme implementation to state conclusively that innovation prizes are an effective tool to solve development challenges, but here we offer our early lessons and practical experience from designing and implementing one of our water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) innovation prizes. This article highlights the early learnings from the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana, which incentivizes local government to rapidly improve and deliver urban sanitation in Ghana.