KIGALI wins Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayors Challenge

Yearlong Competition Launched in 2021 Elevates the Most Promising Urban Innovations to Emerge from the Pandemic. Adopting proven rainwater-harvesting technologies in informal communities is one of 15 cities awarded $1 million dollars to provide an alternative water source and smart waste solution for green and resilient recovery in Kigali informal areas, to improve resident livelihoods.

KIGALI, RWANDA January 18, 2022 -- Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the 15 winning cities of the 2021-2022 Global Mayors Challenge, a worldwide innovation competition that supports and spreads cities’ most promising ideas. These 15 winners are being recognized for designing the boldest and most ambitious urban innovations to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic. The winning ideas address one or more of four current issue areas in cities including economic recovery and inclusive growth; health and wellbeing; climate and environment; and gender and equality.

KIGALI, RWANDA’s adopting proven rainwater-harvesting technologies in informal communities here awarded one million dollars in addition to technical support and coaching over three years. The goal of adopting proven rainwater-harvesting technologies in informal communities is to provide an alternative water source and smart waste solution for green and resilient recovery in Kigali informal areas, to improve resident livelihoods.

“I am deeply honored to receive this $ 1 Million Grand Prize from the Global Mayors Challenge 2021, on behalf of the City of Kigali. I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Awards Committee for believing in the potential of our sustainable and innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for Kigali’s informal dwellers while enabling them to adapt to the impacts of Covid-19.

Our project will actively engage residents in ongoing informal settlements upgrading projects, helping them to leverage green technology to harvest rainwater as an alternative source to meet their daily water needs in addition to providing them with smart waste management facilities." Rubingisa Pudence - Mayor of City of Kigali

Adopting proven rainwater-harvesting technologies in informal communities will have long-lasting impact on the well-being of the city residents.

77.8% of households attested that harvested rainwater would help to reduce water bills that will help residents have more money to feed their children.

“We have a big challenge to get water to flush the toilets because we only have indoor toilets. Therefore, if rainwater is used it will give us more water and reduce monthly water bills” said one resident.

Regarding waste, another resident said “we keep bags out, uncovered and when it rains everything becomes a mess and water is mixed with waste and this leads to rotting…. new modern/smart waste management will increase the hygiene and sanitation in our apartment.”

The system would introduce timely collection to address complaints on collection delays.

The resident survey we conducted recommended the “need to educate the residents about better usage of water. For example, they don't know how use less water for flushing toilets (pressing the right button)”

“As the world works to address the profound public health and economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, cities can implement innovative ideas at a pace that national governments simply can’t match,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and 108th Mayor of New York City. “Our fifteen winners offer bold, achievable plans to improve health, reduce unemployment, empower women, and more. Collectively, they have the potential to improve millions of their residents' lives – and the most successful solutions will inspire cities around the world to embrace them.”

Global Mayors Challenge

The 15 winning cities named today hail from 13 nations on six continents and collectively represent more than 30 million residents. They were selected from among 50 Champion Cities that spent the past four months rigorously testing and refining their projects. When the competition launched in January 2021, mayors from 631 cities in 99 countries submitted their boldest ideas to the competition.

The Mayors Challenge selection committee helped Bloomberg Philanthropies select the 15 winners.  The committee is co-chaired by Bloomberg Philanthropies board member Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President, Ariel Investments, and David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee, and includes a wide range of global experts: Sir David Adjaye, OBE Founder, Adjaye Associates; Dr. Yogan Pillay, Country Director for South Africa and Senior Global Director for Universal Health Coverage, Clinton Health Access Initiative; Jagan Shah, Senior Infrastructure Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, British High Commission, New Delhi; Linda Gibbs, Principal, Bloomberg Associates; Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia; Olafur Eliasson, Artist; Gael Garcia Bernal, actor and producer; Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics and Director, Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; Federica Mogherini, Rector, College of Europe and Former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Director, Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Former Executive Director, Code for America; and Mariana Costa Checa, Co-Founder And CEO, Laboratoria.

Moving Forward

The 15 winning cities will now enter a three-year implementation period with a $1 million grant and robust technical assistance. During this time, the cities will work diligently to evolve and scale their idea into a real-life program to improve residents’ lives. Cities will also work to share their ideas with additional cities around the world to enable these tested innovations to spread. 

“The Mayors Challenge always pushes mayors to take big ideas and bring them to life and was vitally important as we emerged from the worst year of the pandemic” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. "Now these cities will pivot to the hard work ahead to implement these projects and collect lessons learned to help other cities adopt and spread their ideas.”

Click here for more details on the 15 winning Global Mayors Challenge ideas. 

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge builds on the success of four previous Bloomberg Philanthropies Challenges in the U.S. (2013 and 2018), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). Previous Mayors Challenge winners include Los Angeles, California’s tackling of the city’s homelessness crisis by making it easier and cheaper to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs); Stockholm, Sweden’s project to convert plant waste into biochar to encourage plant growth; and Barcelona, Spain helping senior citizens build community through technology. For more information, visit and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.