Ascend launch Learning and Innovation Fund

30 Apr 2020

The Ascend West and Central Africa programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), is excited to announce a new learning and innovation fund to accelerate the control and elimination efforts for up to five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) – lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma.

The fund sits within the three year Ascend West and Central Africa programme, which is an integrated programme aiming to make major progress towards eliminating these painful and poverty trapping NTDs. The programme will deliver over 400 million treatments, helping several countries to make significant progress, in line with the WHO 2030 NTDs Roadmap.

The Ascend Learning and Innovation Fund can provide grants between £20,000 – £500,000 to support a flexible range of NTD-focused activities, from research to large-scale implementation, across 13 countries in West and Central Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone).

The fund seeks to enhance the quality of effective NTD programming by validating innovative ideas and assisting the transition of programme learning into scalable and sustainable outcomes.

The fund offers the opportunity to be creative and do things differently – to explore innovations, respond to emerging gaps, solve identified needs, and transition operational findings into scalable programming.

The Fund consists of 5 application windows. Applications for Cycle 1 open on 28th April 2020 and will close 29th May 2020. Cycles 1-4 will be open to all applicants; Cycle 5 will be restricted to existing projects or partners funded through the previous cycles. All project activities and reports must be completed and submitted by 31st March 2022 at the latest.

The Ascend Learning and Innovation Fund are seeking project proposals that address one of the five following challenge statements:

  • Challenge 1: COVID-19 response – How can NTD programming provide entry points for COVID-19 response and readiness? (Please note that applications responding to COVID-19 will be prioritised in Cycle 1)
  • Challenge 2: Collaboration and multisectoral action – How can NTD interventions leverage synergies arising from collaborations across diseases, sectors and borders?
  • Challenge 3: Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – How can we enhance access to, and quality of, NTD treatment and prevention services in the context of UHC?
  • Challenge 4. Health systems strengthening – How can we ensure long-term, in-country sustainability for NTD programmes?
  • Challenge 5. Data systems – How can we increase the quality and availability of NTD data at all levels to better inform NTD programming?

Please refer to the fund guidelines for further details on the above challenge statements.  If you have identified a particular challenge that falls outside of the above that is relevant to the control and elimination of NTDs, we still want to know. Please send an email to fundteam [at] ascendwest-innovationfund [dot] org to discuss further.

Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Research Behaviour change