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International Development Research @ Cambridge

 

Thanks to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) research funding from different sources, academics at the University of Cambridge have been able to partner with universities and research institutes in the Global South to deliver research that has had an impact on people’s lives.

We bring together a selection of case studies from across the University here:
 

Education

[1] Raising learning outcomes for the most vulnerable in Ethiopia
The Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre has been working for the past three years with Addis Ababa University and the Ethiopian Policy Studies Institute on a large scale DFID-funded research programme: ‘Research for Improving Systems of Education’ (RISE). The research focuses on improving access to good quality education for the most marginalised children – in line with the UK government’s commitment to providing a minimum of 12 years of education for every girl in the world. Through working together with the Ethiopian Government as well as other donors within the country, the research has highlighted benefits and challenges of ambitious quality education reforms, leading to adaptations to the programme. The involvement of members of the research team in Ethiopia in the Government’s 2018-2030 Education Roadmap has enabled findings of the research to feed directly into the country’s priorities in education. The close engagement with government and donors has become even more imperative in the context of COVID-19. For example, the team’s data analysis showing that only around 28% of the poorest households own a radio highlighted a challenge of the expectation that children would be able to continue their learning via this form of media during school closures, and so the need to be prepared for catch-up of these children in particular when schools re-open.

Violence

[2] Ending violence against women, girls and children in Jamaica, Ghana, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines
The Violence Research Centre at the Institute of Criminology leads a collaborative project with eight academic partners in LMIC countries, seven of which are ODA countries (Jamaica, Ghana, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines). The project is directly related to SDG goals 5 (target ending violence against women and girls) and 16 (target ending violence against children). Its focus is on medium-sized cities. At the current stage it entails, in each study site, a cohort study of 150 women recruited during pregnancy, and followed up when the child was 3 months. A proposal to interview the mothers about their experiences during COVID-19, when the child is 15 months old, is currently under review. Across the study sites substantial proportions of the participants live in highly precarious socio-economic circumstances. Additionally, a needs and resources assessment related to policies to address violence against children was conducted in each study, using the INSPIRE framework developed by, amongst others, WHO and UNICEF. The aim is to make each participating city a ‘pathfinder’ in addressing violence against women and children. In each partner site a team of local researchers with strong links to stakeholders leads the project. The research has substantial impact: The international ‘End Violence’ partnership has endorsed our approach to conducting needs and resources assessments in low resource contexts. The city of Valenzuela (Philippines) has launched a major city-wide initiative to address violence against children. In Vietnam, the research has contributed to an initiative to train health workers to better recognise signs of potential domestic abuse during pregnancy. In all study sites, national policy events strengthened awareness for violence against women and children. Also, the interdisciplinary collaboration among the co-PI partners across all WHO regions makes a substantial contribution to capacity building.

Food Security and Nutrition

[3] Crop protection, mitigation of novel crop-infecting viruses and education of early-career scientists in sub-Saharan Africa
The University of Cambridge Plant Virology Group has engaged for 10 years with African scientists and other stakeholders in development of new methods for crop protection, in discovery and mitigation of novel crop-infecting viruses, and in education of early-career scientists in sub-Saharan Africa. Our major Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)-funded effort investigated novel field designs and epidemiological models enabling low input, sustainable protection of common bean against insect-transmitted viruses in East and Central Africa (ECA). The common bean is grown by 4M smallholder farmers in Kenya and is the major dietary protein and micronutrient source for >150 million ECA citizens. Spin-offs from this project include discovery of new biocontrol agents to combat virus-transmitting insects, and inherited RNA symbionts that benefit plant productivity, which we are investigating as genetic markers for breeding improved germplasm. GCRF-Connected-Network, Impact Acceleration and QR funding enabled characterisation of novel viruses exacerbating the maize lethal necrosis epidemic in ECA, discovery of novel insect pests and viral pathogens affecting brassica production in Ghana, and the first modern survey of viruses infecting the Ugandan tomato crop. State-of-the-art sequencing techniques showed that East and West African agriculture is threatened by novel viruses of Asian origin, likely through increased trade with China. Our studies are relevant only for farmers and breeders, but also for policymakers. Recent outreach has included training for 133 (face-to-face) and 350 (via Zoom) early-career scientists of 25 African countries in modern virology techniques, and 90 farming community leaders and 20 extension workers on maize lethal necrosis in Kenya.

[4] Mitigating the impacts of climate change through strengthening food security and nutrition in Small Island Developing States
The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean and Pacific face a unique combination of vulnerabilities that include the impacts of climate change, increasing reliance on food imports of low nutritional quality and high double and triple burdens of malnutrition. The MRC Epidemiology Unit has been working for the past three years with the University of the West Indies and the University of the South Pacific on the GCRF funded Community Food and Health (CFaH) project and new policy relevant studies that have arisen from it. The ultimate goal of this programme of work is to help support improved food security and nutrition through the increased production and consumption of local nutritious foods. The evaluation methods developed, and initial data collected, in CFaH have provided a foundation for the development and testing of new interventions in Haiti, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Fiji in projects funded by UKRI and IDRC. These projects are designed and implemented in partnership with academic institutions, civil society organisations and governments in SIDS. The projects are of necessity interdisciplinary, bringing together expertise that includes human nutrition, agronomy, epidemiology, and social and environmental science. The impact of COVID-19 has further illustrated the vulnerability of food systems in SIDS to external shocks, and thus the value of this GCRF-funded research towards improving food system resilience and nutrition in these settings.

Health

[5] Assessing data and modelling the health impacts of changes in urban transport in India, Brazil and Peru
The TIGTHAT project (Towards an Integrated Transport and Health Assessment Tool) led by the University of Cambridge has worked for two years with partners in India, Brazil and Peru, in assessing data and developing methods for modelling the health impacts of changes in urban transport. Transport provides an opportunity for physical activity (from walking or cycling) and this is declining in many settings, transport also is a major source of urban pollution (with India having some of the most polluted cities in the world), and of traffic injuries (with the burden continuing to rise in many lower and middle income countries). By working across diverse settings we have understand much better the variation and patterns in activity levels, injury risks, and air pollution. This supports more targeted policies, not based on results from high income countries or generalising across developing economies. The project forged collaborations with the WHO and this led to a collaboration with the Mayor’s office in Accra, Ghana. In this project, we produced the first assessment of the health impacts of transport futures for an African city. These results highlighted the high risks from plausible increases in motorcycling, and the importance of walking for transport in population physical activity. Following from the project, a collaboration has been established with the World Bank and we are supporting modelling of scenarios for Bogota, Colombia (completed with the city government) and now for other cities in Latin America. With the pandemic and concerns about use of public transport, the results of the project are more pressing as we need to be able to estimate the health impacts of potential increases in other modes (walking, cycling, motorcycling, and private car).  

[6] Developing point of care low cost HIV and Hepatitis B diagnostics in South Africa 
The Low Cost Viral Diagnostics (LCVD) project at University of Cambridge, Imperial College and University of Pretoria in South Africa has spent over two years developing point of care HIV and HepB viral load tests funded by EPSRC GCRF programme “Diagnostics, prosthetics and orthotics to tackle health challenges in developing countries”. The project is on-going and diagnostics deployment is some time away, but the direction of the research has been driven by strong partnerships and user driven research with the South African health service, NGOs, government bodies and companies. This has been vital in ensuring that LCVD research is focused on real needs and resulted in several changes to the planned technology as our understanding of context evolved. This deep focus on partnership has also been instrumental in enabling members of the research team to be deployed during COVID-19. PDRA Michael Crone (Imperial College) built on his work throughout LCVD to develop high-throughput COVID-19 testing at the London Biofoundry, including automated RNA extraction which was deployed to support the NHS. He is now deploying four systems in South Africa in partnership with the local health system. LCVD Research Fellow Dr Jenny Molloy joined the UN Technology Access Partnership (TAP) in June 2020 as a working group member coordinating the diagnostics technical subgroup. Her fieldwork conducted on the South African diagnostics innovation ecosystem has been of critical importance in enabling her to contribute expert advice to TAP in its work promoting local production of essential health technologies.

[7] Designing materials for diagnostic kits to be manufactured locally in the Philippines and Ghana
Infectious diseases were a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines, even prior to COVID-19. Patients may present with fever which is difficult to attribute to a specific infection without specialist laboratory tests. Dengue and Leptospirosis are two such diseases that are endemic. Dengue is a major public health problem in the Philippines, with the fourth highest rate in Southeast Asia. A surveillance study from the Cebu area, for example, estimated 842,867 clinically diagnosed dengue cases annually, with direct medical costs (in 2012) of $345 million and a disease burden of 535 (95% CI: 380–994) DALYs per million population. However, for most Filipinos, tests are not done because they are unaffordable or unavailable; better treatment is thus confused by the similarity of symptoms from other febrile diseases. Tests are usually imported and the barrier to affordable diagnostics in low income countries arises from low Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) on imported goods. We have been taking an innovative synthetic biology approach to the design of materials that are essential for diagnostic kits so that they can be manufactured locally. We are in the process of translating this technology into the Philippines and at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we had received ethical permission to recruit patients for a clinical trial to examine the impact of readily available low cost testing. Our study is currently on pause because our technology is equally applicable to COVID-19 testing and the equipment obtained for this project and some of the personnel in the Philippines have been requisitioned for SARS-Cov-2 testing. We are however, still working on a model to examine the impact of local manufacturing and reduction in cost of a diagnostic on the ability to target treatment and lessen the impact of febrile illness on the patient, society and the economy. We are also trying to explore how to gather data on the impact on the local economy and poverty from developing a distributed manufacturing enterprise and resulting job creation and education. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for testing and the current model for local manufacture of diagnostic tests is expected to show a significant impact on disease outcomes, poverty, education and the economy, as well as the response time to testing in infectious disease outbreaks. Despite the lockdown and pause in laboratory and clinical work, the teams in Cambridge and the Philippines have been fully active in working together on the economic and poverty impact associated with local manufacturing of disease tests. The Partnership is well balanced between Cambridge and the Philippines with complementary skill sets that are of mutual benefit. It is an effective collaboration. We have also working with Ghana and have translated innovative materials for malaria tests for local manufacture. We have undertaken a clinical trial there and we are about to start a project working with the front line COVID-19 testing teams to develop a test with a focus on developing local manufacturing communities.

[8] Phone-based HIV support system repurposed for COVID-19 in Uganda
Phone-based HIV support system repurposed for COVID-19 in Uganda – We were able to work quickly to adapt a previously developed mHealth tool, Call for Life, which was supporting people living with HIV, to COVID-19 response to support the Kenyan Ministry of Health. The work was supported by an existing grant given to adapt the tool for use in Ebola outbreaks, which we were allowed to re-position to include COVID-19 response. The tool has been translated to nine local languages, and uses voice calls, therefore accessible to over 80% of the population who have access to simple phones. Having an existing grant gave us the confidence to move quickly to support the Ministry of Health, as well as our partners at Makerere University. The work was featured in the National newspaper (Daily Monitor), and we believe that rapidly supporting outbreak response will help with longer-term use of the tool in other conditions The research from use of the tool in COVID-19 will allow us to develop functionality for any infectious diseases outbreaks. As East Africa is a hot spot for emerging infectious diseases, we aim to use this tool for outbreak surveillance and support in a post-COVID response.

[9] Open-source ventilators designed for use in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia
Open-source ventilator designed for use in low- and middle-income countries – This project is developing a low cost, high quality ventilator and oxygen concentrator that can be joined together in a system or be used separately. We hope that this will assist with the clinical response to the present coronavirus pandemic. The system has been designed from the outset specifically for the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people, specifically those who live in Sub-Saharan Africa who currently do not have access to such ventilation technology, and who suffer extreme shortages in medical oxygen supply. Our aim is to establish a design that ultimately can be manufactured in country, and for the technology to be maintained and regulated locally without compromising on quality standards. The system is intended to help beyond the immediate crisis to tackle long-term persistent health problems such as childhood pneumonia and tuberculosis. In this project we collaborate and co-create with clinical and engineering partners in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, both in the private industrial sector as well as in universities. The network established previously by the Centre for Global Equality has been absolutely critical in accessing the expertise, trust and goodwill of the ideal partners for this project, and to steer our work to improve the livelihoods and welfare of the most vulnerable. Through our engineering partner Beko on the OVSI project we were able to team up with our manufacturing partner Defy in South Africa.

[10] Interdisciplinary research platform on non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh
The Cambridge Programme to Assist Bangladesh in Lifestyle and Environmental Risk Reduction (CAPABLE) is a partnership between University of Cambridge and six other organisations in the UK and Bangladesh, which is supported by MRC UKRI through the Global Challenges Research Fund. CAPABLE aims to create a research platform across multiple settings (urban, urban-poor and rural) in Bangladesh for interdisciplinary research on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) involving at least 100,000 participants. Equitable partnerships between organisations and capacity building at individual and institutional levels are key components of CAPABLE, and will ensure that CAPABLE leaves a lasting legacy in Bangladesh. Data collected through this research platform are being used to identify key risk factors for NCDs (e.g. heart attacks, stroke, diabetes) in Bangladesh and to develop and evaluate context-specific interventions to combat them. 75,000 participants have been recruited so far and several targeted studies have already utilised this platform, for example a qualitative study on the barriers and facilitators to tobacco cessation was done to prepare for a trial of tobacco cessation interventions in Bangladesh. The CAPABLE platform is currently being used to collect serial data on COVID-19 symptoms in a subset of participants, and a seroprevalence study will begin soon. This data will be translated into policy and public health action through CAPABLE’s partnership with the IEDCR, a governmental organisation playing a key role in Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response.

[11] Implementation of mental health interventions in Colombia and supporting university students during COVID-19
The Psychiatry Department, in collaboration with the Centre of Latin American Studies and Cambridge Global Challenges, has created a multidisciplinary team focused in the study and implementation of mental health interventions in Colombia. Our main objective is to address how inequality, racism and segregation affect the mental and physical health of the population. We are working in partnership with the Faculty of Medicine of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. In order to support the COVID-19 response in Colombia, we created an online network of physicians to share information and training about COVID-19, at a very early stage. It had a massive response, and now has more than 15,000 members. Also, we created a multidisciplinary research team to support the development and qualitative distribution of "InnspiraMED" low-cost ventilators. The study aimed to increase the capacity of rural hospitals to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients. For this purpose, a partnership with the Faculty of Medicine from the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín and the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana was created. Also, as a part of the COVID-19 response, we created a partnership with Universidad del Valle in Cali and we created the campaign: #OneMoreStudentOnline. The aim was to support the education of low-income university students in Colombia by donating internet access and electronic devices during the COVID-19 outbreak. This was directed to vulnerable students who did not have Internet at home, which would affect the completion of their semester or would put them at risk for having to leave home to connect to online courses. To date, 204 students have internet connection and devices thanks to the campaign. Currently, our main research is focusing on understanding the mental health challenges facing post-conflict populations in Colombia. We are working with the Department of Psychiatry of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana developing a study of some of the populations most affected by the war in Colombia where the ex-soldiers from FARC have been allocated. We have been working closely with local NGOs and political leaders in order to understand their needs and challenges.

Water and Sanitation

[12] Clean drinking water testing in refugee camps in Tanzania and Bangladesh
To date, WaterScope’s research focuses on Sustainable Development Goal 6: Water and Sanitation, in which currently 1 in 10 people do not have access to a clean drinking water source. WaterScope has been successful in raising over £500,000 of funding from the outcomes of this project to pursue its goal. We have been working with NGOs including Oxfam, as well as local initiatives and understand the challenges and benefits to local their programmes and rural communities. In particular we conducted a trial in Tanzania at one of the largest refugee camps in Sub-Saharan Africa, identifying that NGOs, with current technologies, are unable to perform bacteriological tests on-site in the refugee camp. With the system developed through the project we were able to test on-site and quickly ascertain water quality, and now through these partners are looking to expand the testing capacity in the largest refugee camp in the world in Bangladesh. Further, working with Local initiative, such as STIClab in Tanzania, we have been able to test local manufacturing and sustainable business models using low-cost open-source microscopes for education. Crucially, by working with local partners, such as Oxfam Tanzania and STIClab, we are able to understand better the environment and challenges posed in ODA countries, and have a framework to obtain good feedback in real-time to incorporate into development and further research. We have expanded the capacity of the partners on the ground allowing further research which has led to follow-on funding to explore additional avenues of impact-led research including malaria diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance testing. Importantly, the establishment of these relationships has allowed us to continue the project, even during COVID-19, allowing us to conduct field trials remotely over video conferences during the which would have been challenging without prior engagement and building of trust through the project.

Environment/ Climate Change

[13] Accountability of large-scale industrial production of charcoal in Uganda
Charcoal is the primary energy source for 80% of Africa’s urban population; in Uganda, as elsewhere, its production is causing widespread deforestation and a series of social, environmental, and economic harms. Dominant narratives, both among government and donors, blame small, poor, rural households for the environmentally destructive production practices. However, research led by Dr Adam Branch has revealed that destructive deforestation is being driven not by small-scale rural producers – the victims of deforestation – but rather by large-scale, unregulated, semi-industrialised production driven by politically connected dealers. Thus, the current regulatory approach is misdirected, targeting small producers when it is industrial production that requires attention. Our research has provided the impetus for innovative efforts by local communities, civil society, and local government in Uganda to bring large-scale industrial production to public attention and to refocus policy towards ending these destructive practices while leaving space for small-scale livelihood production. The research team, working with a range of local partners, created a three-pronged strategy to bring charcoal production in line with environmental justice: a legislative process at the district level to develop a sustainable charcoal production act; an activism campaign at the civil society level to bring environmental justice and charcoal into the public sphere; and a grassroots monitoring and accountability process in rural communities to develop local awareness of environmental rights and justice. This has sparked a flourishing civil society campaign around environmental justice, generating both media attention and activity within district-level government. These developments in civil society, media and local government have laid the foundations for a sustained change in charcoal production and in the broader areas of energy, environment, rural livelihoods, and climate change in East Africa.

[14] Building a policy engagement framework to improve the resilience of the Brazilian Food-Water-Energy (FWE) Nexus to global environmental and economic change
The Building Resilience In a Dynamic Global Economy (BRIDGE) project developed a framework of analysis and policy engagement to improve the resilience of the Brazilian Food-Water-Energy (FWE) Nexus to global environmental and economic change, in close cooperation with Brazilian academic and policy communities. With support from an EPSRC-CONFAP grant for research network-building on the FWE Nexus (EP/N002504/1), BRIDGE applied state-of-the-art modelling to build a robust environmental policy assessment methodology for the Brazilian FWE Nexus. The modelling capacity, skills and knowledge were transferred to relevant actors in Brazil to enable local academics to continue informing and engaging policymakers through a continued sustainability transition during and beyond the end of BRIDGE. An extended team of 19 researchers from the University of Cambridge, UNISUL, Radboud University, the Open University, Cambridge Econometrics, University of East Anglia and Federal University of Santa Catarina have worked together in the analysis of four Nexus case studies of particular relevance for Brazil. Engagement activities were deployed at the federal level (Ministry of Mines and Energy, National Agency of Water, Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Climate Change at the Ministry of the Environment), at the state level (Legislative Assembly of the State of Santa Catarina), and at the municipal level (Florianopolis City Council, and Tubarão City Mayor and City Council), as well as seminars and interactions with students and researchers of UNISUL and UNB – University of Brasília. Of particular note, BRIDGE Working Group 4, ‘Pilot Actions – Resilient Community’, specifically focussed on developing and implementing sustainable pilot projects to mitigate the impacts of the FWE nexus at the local level of the State of Santa Catarina. The first pilot built an hydroponic greenhouse powered by solar panels, which provides fresh food without cost for the UNISUL and neighbourhood community. Another pilot focussed on education for sustainable development at primary and secondary schools in a rural area of Santa Catarina. This includes the promotion of awareness about the FWE nexus’ challenges, through lectures and practical activities on the areas of gardening, recycling and reusing, composting, and the use of solar panels and solar water heating systems. Yet another pilot consisted in the implementation of solar panels at the University Library to encourage the development of the ‘Solar University’, which aims at using solar generation for the whole UNISUL campus

Innovation, Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building

[15] ​Partnership strengthening research capacity in African universities and research institutes
Established in 2008, Cambridge-Africa (C-A) is a University programme that supports African researchers and promotes mutually beneficial collaborations and equitable partnerships between Africa and Cambridge.​
C-A works in collaboration with African universities and institutions to achieve research excellence, currently supporting projects that address 14 of the 17 SDGs and at least 8 GCRF areas. The programme’s educational and academic impact is primarily achieved through the provision of training and mentorship for African researchers in Africa, and African PhD and postdoctoral fellowship visits to Cambridge, with the priority areas for research undertaken being determined by African partner institutions.
During 2018-2019, for example, C-A supported partners in 16 African Institutions in 16 DAC countries, 29 African PhD fellows in Africa and Cambridge and 22 Africa-based early career researchers (ECRs). A small sample of recently achieved impacts and benefits are:

  • Support to 15 research projects responding to COVID-19 in 9 African countries. These cover a range of topics including diagnostic testing, antibody responses, PPE production and educational impacts.
  • Sabastine Eugene Arthur investigates the uses of two recently developed experimental systems against the human norovirus (HuNoV), which has emerged as the leading cause of acute viral gastroenteritis worldwide. It affects almost everyone, and although self-limiting, it may be fatal in children under five years, elderly and immunocompromised persons. Sebastine’s project aim is to identify cellular pathways that may be targets for therapeutic intervention and the data from this study will provide key information for vaccine development and advance the frontiers of molecular virology research in Ghana and other LMIC neighbouring countries.
  • Margaret Ontita is assessing the impact of education on care and feeding practices of pre-term and low birth weight infants in an urban setting in Kenya through a randomised controlled trials. The findings will provide a guideline for developing education modules that will be made part of the Essential Education Package on Care and Feeding Practices received by all mothers during antenatal and postnatal Clinic visits in Kenya.

 

[16] Technology innovation, intellectual property and Academia-Industry knowledge-exchange in Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia
Although six of the ten fastest growing economies in 2018 were African, and despite overseas investors rating Africa as the second most attractive continent for investment in 2014, there is little by way of significant local research and development (R&D) and technological capacity to support future growth. Building that capacity is essential for Africa’s inclusive economic development and to address its challenges of low productivity, unemployment, detrimental trade terms and poverty. The Advancing the impact of University-generated knowledge in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) through academia-industry partnerships Programme addressed these priorities.
Knowledge-exchange professionals from Cambridge (UK), Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI Botswana), Universidade Lúrio (Mozambique) and University of Namibia (Namibia) co-developed and delivered a bespoke programme to advance SADC academia-industry innovation ecosystems for the benefit of local communities. Such ecosystems are also important for UK higher education institutions (HEIs) seeking to deliver impact in these regions: as reviews of Newton Fund and GCRF grants note, failure to address innovation diffusion and to grow the local economic environment of Official Development Assistance (ODA)-target countries is a major obstacle to achieving the funding goals.
The initiative convened over fifty contributors and was based on seventeen actual knowledge-exchange cases provided by eight SADC research institutions – involving innovation on aquaculture, agriculture, water treatment, conservation, climate change and tech and indigenous knowledge-based approaches to health.
The programme was initiated by a workshop in Botswana that defined infrastructure and policy priorities for the efficient identification, protection and application of SADC innovations and for the creation of local human, social and cultural capital. The mapping of nascent knowledge-exchange and IP systems in Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia highlighted the key role of research institutions for a transition to an economy advanced by SADC-generated knowledge – and identified relevant expertise on political economy of technical innovation, open research tools for emerging bioeconomies, industrial policy for development and IP models for and societal challenges convened by this initiative for this transformative development. This in turn drove a second workshop in Cambridge focussed on commercialization and knowledge-exchange practices and established a basis for the implementation of SADC-Cambridge collaboration.
This initiative equipped all research institutions for the resulting SADC-Cambridge collaborative research (e.g. around microbial and electrochemical energy production systems with UniLúrio and on medical sterilisation and water remediation with BITRI), knowledge-exchange (e.g. SADC government agencies and companies have committed to adopt technology to assist deaf society and sustainable harvesting of indigenous plants for food security and medicinal applications by rural communities) and capacity-building (e.g. the first edition of IndabaX, a pan-Africa machine-learning training academy organized by Google Deep Mind will soon take place in a first lusophone country, Mozambique). Indeed, the programme provided lessons for Cambridge’s work in ODA-qualified countries and the SADC research institutions have strengthened their knowledge-exchange offices, supported their inventors around commercialisation and implemented IP practices tailored to societal impact subsequently to the programme. Examples of this are:

  • the establishment of entrepreneurship training and of a knowledge-exchange Agribusiness Unit by UniLúrio through its “Support to Skills Development Project” – planned with the Government of Mozambique and granted by the African Development Bank to reduce poverty in the north of Mozambique through relevant training in Agriculture, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and
  • further training on commercialising research at Cambridge for hand-picked government and HEI representatives from Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.

The programme's knowledge-exchange work was recognised by the UKRI Praxis Auril Team of the Year Award and its innovative design was motivated consultation from Innovate UK around the delivery of Africa KTN and has already been deployed elsewhere – namely by UniLúrio, for the definition of its strategy for engagement with local business in relation to Natural Resources, Economy, Agriculture and Food Security.  The knowledge-exchange team continues to act as a network for the implementation of SADC-Cambrige collaborative research projects that respond to development needs of Southern Africa and for the championing of knowledge-exchange models that can adequately respond to the development priorities of the region.​

 

 

[17] Capacity building in identifying solutions and enabling policy dialogue for communities affected by climate change, health and energy issues in the Eurasian region
Global challenges require a complex approach both in terms of understanding and looking for solutions to climate change, health and energy affecting communities. The GCRF Comprehensive Capacity-Building in Eastern Neighbourhood and Central Asia: research integration, impact governance and sustainable communities (COMPASS) project focuses on filling gaps and building capacities in the UK and in the wider Eurasian region. The interdisciplinary nature of the concerns led COMPASS teams to initiate necessary dialogue for creating frames of practice. In order to achieve these goals, policy dialogues with stakeholders – civil society organisations, parliamentarians, the diplomatic corps, representatives of commercial enterprises (BP), international organisations, young researchers and academics, especially from the region, have helped bring awareness to local communities. COMPASS activities have described existing capacity and built and created efficiency and good practice in regional governments through policy workshops. We have conducted surveys in each country to highlight local understandings to convey frames of reference for external actors. For this, equitable partnerships are the cornerstone for any such project. Ranging from training schools to research workshops in Central Asia and in the UK with local partner institutions (Coordination and Methodological Centre on contemporary history under the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences; and Brain Gain Academy, India), the COMPASS teams have enlivened information transfer. Participation in international and regional forums (Silk Road Forums Tbilisi and China), Innovation Forums (Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan), and regional programmes (CAREC and SENECA), have all helped COMPASS influence development policy.
 

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Cambridge Global Challenges is the Strategic Research Initiative (SRI) of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, with a particular focus on the poorest half of the world’s population.

 

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