UAE-funded sustainable projects exported to developing countries

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Launched on 18th December 2019, 20by2020 is a UAE-led humanitarian initiative between the Zayed Sustainability Prize and various partners which include Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Mubadala Petroleum, Year of Tolerance and Masdar.

The initiative oversees the donation of technologies and sustainable solutions, developed by previous winners and finalists of the Prize, to vulnerable communities around the world. The immediate impact of deploying these transformative solutions to beneficiaries located in last-mile communities is centred around improving access to clean energy; clean water and sanitation; access to health services; and addressing challenges in hunger, malnutrition, and agricultural productivity – all of which are goals outlined in the global Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030.

Building on the UAE’s stewardship as a global leader in philanthropy and international development, the 20by2020 initiative echoes Shaikh Zayed’s humanitarian vision, which sought to foster constructive collaboration between people and organisations, for the benefit of all.

The initiative amplifies the positive impact of the Zayed Sustainability Prize by widening the reach and accessibility of sustainable solutions to transform thousands of lives for the better.

Global Impact: The initiative will oversee the donation of innovative sustainability solutions and technologies to disadvantaged communities
Image Credit: Supplied

Designed to engage and create lasting impact, the donated solutions are intended to tackle challenges related to health, food, energy and water, and empower nations and people through technology and solutions needed for sustainable growth.

Currently in its first phase, the 20by2020 initiative has already deployed sustainable solutions in the health and food sectors in Nepal, Uganda and Tanzania, impacting over 20,000 mothers and new-borns and providing access to nutritious food to 50,000 people every day. These will soon be followed by energy-related solutions in Jordan and Egypt. Deployments in Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Costa Rica will be rolled out subsequently, and the remaining 10 countries will be announced as part of the initiative’s second phase.


Many villages in Nepal either lack total access to electricity or suffer from extreme power outages several times a day — putting pregnant mothers and babies at risk. Midwives at birthing centres depend on light from candles, flashlights, mobile phones and oil lamps while conducting the childbirths — which is largely ineffective and unhygienic.

Solar Suitcases developed by We Care Solar, a US-based non-profit organisation and winner of the Prize’s 2019 Health category, were donated to health centres, impacting more than 6,000 mothers and new-borns in Nepal.

Staff at Walankha health centre learning to operate the solar suitcase
Image Credit: Supplied

The Solar Suitcases are powerful enough to light typical birthing centres, comprising mostly four-room single-storied buildings. Installation of this solution at health centres ensures availability of effective and efficient delivery services.

Amrit Wanim, an auxiliary nurse midwife, has been working at the Walankha health centre for 13 years shares, “The Solar Suitcase has been an absolute game-changer for us! We are in a much better position to provide better delivery services to the community and are able to help more women.”


20by2020 is impacting more than 12,000 mothers and new-borns in Buikwe, Uganda.

Eve Nabuwanuka, a 31-year-old registered midwife, who works in Buikwe, says, “I love working with new mothers and babies and my passion for post-natal care inspired me to study midwifery at a nearby school in Jinja.”

Eve’s struggles started when she was appointed as a midwife at Buikwe Health Center in 2016. Poor infrastructure, limited supply of medications, insufficient delivery instruments and no grid electricity made her work difficult.

Relying on paraffin candles made night-time deliveries particularly challenging for her. “You cannot meet your own expectations,” she says. “You are forced to refer a patient to another facility just because of the lack of light and end up feeling that you are not able to deliver the care that people need.”

Eve recalls a night where the candle ran out in the middle of a delivery. Although she was able to successfully deliver the baby, it caused a severe injury that could not be attended to in the darkness. “We had to wait until the morning to attend to the patient.”

The installation of a Solar Suitcase has ensured availability of delivery services and treatment through the night. The health workers no longer refer routine cases to other facilities and the volume of deliveries have increased from 10 to 30 per month.


Sanku, a non-profit organisation based in Tanzania and winner of the Prize’s 2019 Food category, has enabled 10 millers across Dar Es Salaam to fortify their flour with lifesaving nutrients. These millers collectively provide around 50,000 adults and children with access to nutritious food, daily.

Khalima Juma, a 33-year-old mother, was raised by her grandmother, along with her six siblings, having access to only one meal a day.

Khalima at her Ugali stall in Dar es Salaam
Image Credit: Supplied

“While growing up, I lost my friends to malnutrition,” she says. “It was very common to hear of children being born with stunting and retardation because of the lack of nutritious food.” Having witnessed such hardships early on in life led to an apprehensive first pregnancy for her.


The Zayed Sustainability Prize is now open for submissions for the 2021 awards.

The Prize’ US$3 million annual fund rewards organizations and high schools with US$600,000 in each of its five categories which are Health, Food, Energy, Water and Global High Schools. The Global High Schools category is split into six world region winners, with each winner able to claim up to US$100,000 to start or augment a project in their school or local community.

For more information about the submissions process and evaluation criteria, visit

Make your mark and apply today.

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