Photograph — Humanosphere

Nigeria is set to benefit from the 100&Change competition sponsored by the MacArthur foundation. The winner of the competition will be granted $100 million for six years to proffer solutions to outlined problem. In the projects submitted and outlined by the eight finalists, Nigeria is a target country in at least two of them.

The McArthur Foundation is one of the largest independent foundations in the United States of America, providing support to creative people, effective institutions and influential networks companies and groups with ideas towards making a better world. The foundation’s aim is to provide a lasting solution to some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including diseases, epidemics, climate change, and nuclear risk.

The foundation announced the semi-finalists from over one hundred nominations for this year. The shortlisted proposals, according to a statement by the foundation, cover the range and scope of other received nominations. The proposals will be subjected to further review to produce five finalists from which a winner will emerge. If any of the companies having Nigeria as a target country wins, Nigeria stands to have one of the major health issues in rural communities resolved.

The only project in the shortlisted proposals targeted at Nigeria alone is the “Eliminating River Blindness in Nigeria” project by the Carter Centre, a US health organisation that focuses or fighting and eradicating diseases in rural areas around the world. An overview of the proposal shows that Nigeria is home to about 40 percent of the total sufferers of river blindness in the world, with at least 50 percent of Nigerians at the risk of the sickness. River blindness, caused by a particular black flea which lays in flowing waters, also leaves the sufferer with a blistered and badly peeled skin.

The project as proposed by the Carter Centre is aimed at providing awareness and free medications to identified villages in Nigeria. The medication and other measures will not only prevent the transmission of the disease when people make contact with infected waters, it will also prevent the black flea from transmitting the disease.

An overview of the proposals shows that Africa is a target location for at least three of the proposals. A proposal submitted by the Catholic Relief Services is targeted at changing the way our societies care for children in orphanages around the world, while another one submitted by HarvestPlus is aimed at eliminating hidden hunger in Africa by fortifying staple crops.

Another project targeted at Africa is the proposal submitted by the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health (Rice University) aimed at “Improving the rate of life expectancy of newborns in Africa.” The Hilmanat Cataract Project is another health-oriented project aimed at creating and developing eye care centres in Nepal, Ethiopia, and Ghana which will help in eliminating needless blindness in the countries.

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