The Botnar Healthy Cities for Adolescents Challenge

Challenge Update - Challenge finalists have been selected!

After a thorough review of the multiple high-quality applications received, we are happy to announce that The Botnar Healthy Cities for Adolescents Challenge has selected the following projects as finalists:

  • “Fort pour le Futur”: Improving adolescent nutrition, health and wellbeing in Thiès, Senegal; Nutrition International, Senegal


Adolescents make up a third of the Thiès population, but they face many difficulties accessing nutrition, health and well-being services, making them vulnerable to high rates of malnutrition, poverty, HIV-AIDS, early pregnancy, drug abuse, and gender-based violence. Fort pour le Futur is a model for integrated nutrition and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services delivered via a multisectoral approach to reach and engage adolescents. Fort pour the Futur is a multi-stakeholder partnership with the Ministries of Health, Youth, and Education, city leaders, schools and private sector partners, through which new avenues to deliver nutrition and SRH services will be created.

  • Innovative Adolescent Health Interventions in the Socio-demographically Diverse City of Tamale for Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals in Ghana; The Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, Ghana

Ghana’s urbanization has been rapid and characterized by challenges related to health, well-being and urban poverty. Adolescent health in cities have not received adequate policy attention. The project aims at building a multi-stakeholder consortium with capacity to use evidence-based information for strategic programming that promotes adolescent health and general well-being towards realizing Sustainable Development Goal 3 and related goals in Tamale and across Ghana. This will be achieved through research, advocacy, policy dialogues and mainstreaming, service provision using emerging ICT such as social media platforms. Key partners are the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, University for Development Studies and the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana.

  • Football & Entrepreneurship for Life; Impact Hub Candidate Medellín, Colombia

This consortium brings together a new alliance of public, international and local health champion partners to innovate a model to address the urban geographical health and wellbeing inequalities affecting adolescents in Medellin. By combining the distinct strengths of each partner, Football & Entrepreneurship for Life will build a participatory and holistic social sport and entrepreneurship programme, to educate and empower 564 adolescents aged 10-15 over three years. The primary goals of the project are to 1) increase fitness and nutrition 2) improve wellbeing, strengthening personal capacities and family environment 3) empower through entrepreneurship training. An additional goal is the establishment of a platform for securing future sustainability and national scaling - the Global Goals World Cup, which the consortium will host in Medellin in 2021 to engage key urban actors, sports networks and funding partners. The SDGs are woven throughout as a powerful framework for engagement, empowerment and youth-led changemaking.

  • My Community is My School - a public-private project to improve the health and well-being of adolescents aged 10-15 in Cali, Colombia, through the creation and long-term implementation of a social entrepreneurship methodology uniting communities and schools; implemented by Coschool (in partnership with Secretary of Education Cali, Fundacion Women's World Bank in Cali), Colombia

My Community is My School is an initiative established in collaboration with public and private partners to tackle three health issues: violence, self-harm, sexual abuse affecting youth in Cali, Colombia. Urban contexts in Colombia are rife with inequality. The proposal involves the creation, execution, and long-term implementation of a participatory methodology that generates social innovation projects addressing health and well-being. Young people are at the centre of our project and the future sustainability of the methodology. My Community is My School will work with 45 out of 135 public schools in Cali and then onboard other schools with the methodology. In the long term, our online platform will ensure capacity is built and costs diminish over time.

  • Safe Active Routes for Adolescents in Cali; Despacio, Colombia

In Cali, Colombia’s third largest city, 60% of residents and 5% of children 0-4 are overweight. However, for children aged 5-12 this number is seven times greater (35%), which is mainly due to bad nutrition and inactivity. The project aims to tackle this issue by involving adolescents, the community, the city government and local business in the development of safe routes for active modes of transport. Walking and cycling are proven to have significant health benefits, which indicates the importance of working with children and adolescents today in order to influence the way they will choose to move around the city tomorrow.

The projects will now enter the project implementation phase with planning for in-country launches commencing soon.

We would like to thank all applicants for their participation and highly interesting and stimulating projects submitted, which made award decisions so hard for the judges and Fondation Botnar!

Do not hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions.




Health equity is high on the international agenda. The World Health Organization promotes health protection as critical for sustainable development, and places children and adolescents in the centre of global health and development discussions. The pace of urbanisation is dramatic in all regions, and the Sustainable Development Goals, for the first time ever, address conditions in cities (Goal#11). This Goal identifies the broad determinants: built, natural and social environment as well as education and economic development that create the conditions for health for people living in cities and may affect their health over the life course.   Article 24 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) establishes young people’s right to health care services, adequate nutrition, clean drinking water, hygiene and sanitation as critical to their growth and development. 

While UNICEF explains that young adolescents (aged 10-14) are often invisible in discourse and data, adolescents are often the most effective agents of change in their own lives, their families and communities. UNICEF calls this group as social actors in their own right who need to be engaged and empowered to be active citizens in order to advance transformation proposed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Botnar Challenge aims to advance conditions in cities that promote and support the health and wellbeing of urban adolescents. 

The Challenge

Fondation Botnar, a philanthropic organisation committed to health and wellbeing of young people, is seeking proposals for an innovative global initiative called The Botnar Healthy Cities for Adolescents Challenge focused on young people in Ecuador, Colombia, Senegal, Ghana, and two states in India, Rajasthan and Odisha. Fondation Botnar’s goal is to develop and strengthen sustainable and equitable community systems in secondary cities* in the above identified countries targeting the health and wellbeing of adolescents aged approximately 10 to 15 years.  The Challenge has a special emphasis on nutrition, overall health, partnerships, advocacy, technological readiness and innovation such as e-health and artificial intelligence (AI) to break the cycle of poverty and contribute to the wellbeing of young people.  The Challenge defines health broadly and seeks to create the conditions in communities that provide opportunities for adolescents to achieve the highest levels of health and wellbeing.

*Secondary cities as defined by Cities Alliance, a joint collaboration of the World Bank and UN Habitat: “A secondary city will likely have a population or economy ranging in size between 10 per cent and 50 per cent of a nation’s largest city.”

Through The Botnar Healthy Cities for Adolescents Challenge, Fondation Botnar will support multi-stakeholder consortiums representing diverse groups including partners from government, civil society, and the private sector to address the health and wellbeing of adolescents aged approximately 10 to 15 years. Such organisations must have, as their focus, the engagement of young people through the creation of opportunities for better futures. Young people must have an active voice in the program design, planning and be actively part of the solution. Specifically, the engagement strategy with this target group of adolescents should involve an emphasis on one or more of the following priorities:

  • Healthy living, including nutrition and fitness

  • Social entrepreneurship

  • Opportunities for meaningful engagement in community and society to improve health

  • Other activities to enhance overall development and life-course of young people

  • Technological and systems innovation for engaging young people

One of the key focus areas of Fondation Botnar’s strategy is the emphasis regarding the creation, building and strengthening of multi-stakeholder partnerships. These need to include the private sector, public sector and civil society working together across sectors to contribute to healthy, equitable and sustainable cities that lead through impact and change to improve the health and wellbeing of adolescents.

Two types of applicants will be eligible to submit projects for awards:

  1. Those composed of a fully functioning consortium with a platform already driving an urban adolescent health and wellbeing agenda.  Botnar funding will support in scaling up promising practices and enhancing the existing work of the consortium. 

  2. Those composed of emerging consortiums lead by independent local champions who want to build a platform to promote an urban adolescent health and wellbeing platform. 

Successful applications will be competing for funding of a maximum amount of 800,000 Swiss francs (CHF) for three-year projects. Funding requests should be consistent with the scope of the project, articulating succinctly the area of focus to address adolescent health and wellbeing, and number of implementing partners. 

Applicants can find all the necessary information in the downloadable documents below. The deadline for applications is August 19, 2018 at 23:59 GMT.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to email us at




 The Challenge document can be downloaded in pdf format here.

About Us

Fondation Botnar is a philanthropic foundation established with the core purpose to support children’s basic needs throughout the world. It was founded in Basel, Switzerland in 2003 to continue the philanthropic work of the Botnar family. Fondation Botnar’s mission is to improve the survival, development, and well- being of children and adolescents in growing secondary cities with high potential. The organisation’s primary sectoral focus areas include health, nutrition, and education which will be the overarching themes of the Challenge.  The Theory of Action includes advancing, innovation, and transformation through leveraging artificial intelligence and digital solutions and sustainable entrepreneurship.

Fondation Botnar has identified a “social ecological approach” as fundamental to its strategy: considering the individual in the context of her/his family, living in a specific geographic community, which is shaped by local, regional and global policies and programs in the multiple sectors affecting the social, economic, political, built and physical environments that can support or prevent sustainable improvements in the health and wellbeing of people living in secondary cities. This approach is well aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for advancing equitable economic and social development which will be particularly influential in shaping the national programs and policies of LMICs in the next years. Further, the approach supports and promotes the United Nation’s urban global framework, the New Urban Agenda’s principle of social inclusion and the Agenda 2030 philosophy of “Leaving No One Behind.”

The Healthy Cities for Adolescents Challenge is managed by the International Society for Urban Health.  The International Society for Urban Health (ISUH) is committed to facilitating critical thinking and innovative action on urban health. The ISUH was founded by The New York Academy of Medicine in 2002 and has become the only global organisation solely focused on advancing urban health by addressing its broader determinants. Through its annual conferences and collaborative activities, the ISUH serves as a platform for interdisciplinary academic experts—researchers and educators--, program leaders and policy makers from multiple sectors in government and the private sector—NGOs and business – to learn from each other and advance evidence and action that improves urban health.