South African SME, Lumkani wins multimillion-rand award for humanitarian aid tech-based solution
Cape Town - South African SME, Lumkani - a low-cost solution providing community-wide alerts for fires in informal settlements – has received an award worth almost R20 million after taking top honours at the European Research and Innovation Days event for the EIC Horizon Prize on Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid.
Lumkani is a social enterprise with the mission to lessen the loss of life and property caused by shack fires in South Africa and across the world. The award-winning organisation's approach to shack fires is the first of its kind.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, announced the five winners at the European Research and Innovation Days, this year taking place entirely online.
The prize is funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, as part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. It rewards the best, proven, cost-effective, technology-based solutions for humanitarian aid in five categories: shelter and related assistance; water, hygiene and sanitation; energy; health and medical care; and an open category. The winners, one per category, each received € 1,000,000; or just under R20 million.
The winning innovations in each category are:
* Shelter and related assistance: LHP, developed by the South African SME Lumkani, is a low-cost solution providing community-wide alerts for fires in settlements such as slums or refugee camps
Francois Petousis (Head of Product at Lumkani): “We do this in two ways: by providing risk-reducing innovative hardware solutions, designed specifically for these communities, and by developing and distributing affordable financial products to allow people to rebuild after disaster strikes, breaking the cycles of poverty common in these environments”
Lumkani’s affordable insurance may be the saving grace for individuals who do not qualify for traditional household insurance.
Petousis continues: “We provide access to self-protect, without needing to rely on external actors to fund activities to build resilience of people’s shelters and communities”
Lumkani has plans to use the grant to deploy its technology across South Africa, 30 000 devices will be installed in homes of underserved individuals. The aim is to continue to have a positive impact and mitigate the c associated with the challenges of fires in informal settlements across the world.
Water, hygiene and sanitation: LORAWAN monitoring by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offers real-time solutions for remote monitoring of water tankers and reservoirs to improve the effectiveness of water trucking programming globally;
Energy: BRIGHT Move by the Norwegian SME Bright Products AS provides refugees with light and energy thanks to an affordable, recyclable and rapidly deployable phone charging device combined with a solar lantern;
Health and medical care: TeReFa, developed by the French non-profit organisation Handicap International, provides affordable, high quality prosthetic and orthotic devices produced through digital and 3D scanning and printing technologies;
Open Category: Odyssey2025, developed by the French non-profit organisation Handicap International, deploys drones to improve the efficiency and safety of land release in mine clearance (allowing the land to be used again), while reducing costs and ensuring sustainability
Commissioner Gabriel said, “These innovations clearly show how physical technologies such as sensors, solar panels or additive manufacturing can be combined with digital technologies to help those desperately in need, empower them, and improve resilience. I am very pleased to award this Prize both to well-established humanitarian organisations and to young, innovative companies that are dedicated to improving people’s lives”.
“Innovation can help us deliver better and more effective aid to people most in need. The technologies recognised today are a great testament to that. It is encouraging to see the great diversity of actors and new partnerships for innovation, from start-up companies to existing humanitarian organisations. I hope this award serves to support the scaling and broad adoption of these innovations in humanitarian work around the world,” concluded Commissioner Lenarčič.