Computer lab at Hanoi University
Photo: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank
Capacity strengthening
Published: Mon, 12 Jul 2010 10:58:48 GMT   Updated: Sat, 07 Feb 2015 09:52:21 GMT
Through long-term, predictable research cooperation, Sida works to strengthen institutions and structures of strategic importance to research and the fight against poverty. Partner countries and regional research actors are better able to plan, produce and use research in the fight against poverty. In line with this view, Sida supports research organisations on national, regional and global level through a system-oriented approach to higher education, research and innovation. The overall aim is to increase the opportunities for partner counties to conduct research on issues of relevance to their own situation.


Low income countries have weak national research communities and therefore lack opportunities to identify, adapt and make use of new knowledge. As a result, low-income countries need strategic investments in higher education, research and innovation to break the vicious circle of underdevelopment.

The interest amongst donors to support national and regional research institutions have increased during recent years. This may be linked to the recognised need to increase research about climate change in low income countries. The current climate models and analysis are built on global modelling and one of the flaws of the current perspective is the lack of national and regional analysis based on research. This raises the urgency to get regional scientists on board and also creates new possibilities to focus on the need to boost local research capacity in low income countries.

Ministries and Research Councils
In any country research funding organisations, usually Ministries and Research Councils, have an important task to play in integrating and focusing the national research and in ensuring that activities are appropriately aligned. They have a key role in creating a functional national system for producing new knowledge which can be used in the country's development process, generate a national research and innovation system and coordinating all research efforts in the country. Through its research cooperation with ministries and research councils Sida aims at boosting the capacity to distribute funds, increasing the number of research graduates and ensuring that research meets both prescribed quality standards and ethical requirements. Achievements of Sida's research cooperation with ministries and research councils can be, for example, increased capacity to formulate, implement and evaluate science, research and innovation policies. In Mozambique, for example, the government has established a national agency FNI as a distributer of research funds at national level.

Achievements: Ministries and Research Councils


Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT), Mozambique
From the onset of Sida cooperation MCT was committed to create a National Research Fund FNI as part of its endeavours to develop the National Research System. The main outcome of Sida contribution 2007-2009 is a functioning FNI capable of managing research and innovation funds.

The scientific and administrative process of management of research funds through FNI is well organized and of good quality. The FNI procedures for selection of projects to be supported from Sida funds are developed in accordance with normal standards in the field of research administration. Project applications are subjected to open calls, applicants are informed about the availability of resources for research and innovation, external reviewers from Mozambique are used to assess relevance and quality of the applications and a steering committee make recommendations for projects to be supported. The system is based on competiveness and transparency in the distribution and administration of funds. Efforts made by MCT and FNI since 2006 resulted in a system which allows managing research and innovation funds on competitive basis.

During the period 2007-2009 FNI has launched two calls for research proposals. A total of 72 of the submitted 457 proposals were funded, of which 77 % were in research and 23% in innovation. All projects were directed at applied research in areas of energy, environment, agriculture, biomedicine, health and veterinary.

Within popularizing of S&T, which is managed by MCT, Sida contribution was used for funding of four Science Fairs involving 325 exhibitors. Six Olympiads at regional centres in ICT, Mathematics and ethno botany areas were organised.  Courses on scientific journalism were organized to train 50 journalists in provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Sofala. Within the human resources development sub-program training in Result Based Management was provided for 300 persons from the regional centres and from the districts. The training courses in management of research and innovation were designed and conducted on RBM principles. Three innovations centres in agriculture were established aiming at promotion of innovation in agriculture.  National indicators to measure results within S&T were developed, three annual Science Fairs in Maputo organized and two Olympiads in natural science conducted.

Regional Research Councils
Sida supports regional research councils with the aim to strengthen research and research capacity throughout a certain region in various relevant research areas that are of importance to that particular group of countries. Result may be, for example, i) improved ability to manage research grants and to support research networks, ii) enhanced academic outreach and technical cooperation, and iii) organisation of workshops, scientific meetings and short visits to high quality labs. One partner organisation which Sida has been cooperating with is AERC which has achieved a whole range of results in the process of capacity strengthening.

Achievements: Regional Research Councils


African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
The main activities of the AERC are; support for research, training program, dissemination and policy outreach. Sida assists AERC in this mission through support to the administrative, financial and governance aspects of the Consortium. Below follows a summary of the main results achieved through research cooperation between Sida and AERC.

In its research cooperation with Sida, AERC continue to be well organised and efficient. It is an African success story, well supported by donors and respected by African governments. The Consortium has been highly successful in creating a huge cadre of economists with MA and PhD degrees. A majority of these graduates have become teachers and researchers at African universities, gained employment in administration or at NGOs thereby strengthening institutional capacity across the continent.

The consortium plan and executes large workshops and conferences with efficiency and competence. One example is that AERC arranged a regional conference on China and India´s impact on Africa which will help African countries to define their future relatioship with these countries. Present at the conference were representatives from 30 African countries, China, the African Union, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Also, AERC arranged Dissemination Conferences on the following research studies i)Reproductive Health, Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction, ii) African Imperatives in the New World Trade Order, and iii) Financial Management and Domestic Resources Mobilization in Africa. These studies will provide the input to most African countries' Povery Reduction Strategy Papers.

AERC has also met or exceeded many of its important strategic planning targets. The organization has offered research grants, published research papers and organized workshops and senior policy seminars. It was remarkably successful in marking its 20th anniversary with a book, a video and an international conference. Several African ministers have been supported by the AERC through research, training and workshops. AERC has contributed significantly to the body of economic research in Africa and has shifted its research priorities over time to reflect changing economic priorities in Africa.

AERC provides research assistance in the form of i) research grants, ii) professional support in terms of access to experts in specific research fields, access to literature and methodology workshops, and iii) peer review and monitoring of research output through the biannual research workshops. The biannual workshops have become the flagship of AERC. It draws together African researchers and expert resource persons from both Africa and overseas, to work together to build African research capacity and to strengthen the quality of economic research on Africa.

Besides being successful in training researchers and generating new research, AERC has maintained high levels of financial management. It consistently achieves clean audit reports and has an excellent grant tracking system. AERC has also been successful in diversifying its donor base. The number of Collaborative Research projects grew beyond what was planned, due mainly to increased donor interest and funding.

Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS)  The ACSS is a new organisation launched in December 2008 in Cairo, Egypt. The ACSS is a legal, autonomous, regional organization headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon, working across the Arab region as well as globally. ACSS functions as a network of networks to augment existing institutions by forging partnerships and collaborations. It is dedicated to strengthening social science research and knowledge production among individuals and academic/research institutions in the Arab region.

The forming of the ACSS and the start of institution building from scratch has been the main focus of the organization 2010-2011. The legal registration of the Council as a foreign non-profit organization based in Lebanon has been a difficult and drawn-out process. In March 2011 the ACSS became fully operational, legally and financially, and could access Sida funding. ACSS is currently hosted by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) in Beirut, awaiting its own offices and staff to be established hopefully in the late 2011. The so far most active element of the ACSS is its Board of Trustees, they have met regularly and directed the initial work. An important result of their work is a funding strategy. Currently the main funders are Sida and IDRC, but also regional donors are approached with applications.

Concurrently to the above results the ACSS started a recruitment process for the position of Director. After an elaborate selection process the chosen person turned down the offer. ACSS has restarted the process. In September 2011, this process is under way. Another institution building corner stone is the Council's website which is under construction.

The ACSS has established partnerships with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, at the American University of Beirut (AUB), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC/USA), and has on-going discussions with the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the UNESCO regional office in Beirut. A variety of joint activities and projects are under discussion.

At full capacity the ACSS will have six areas of programmatic activities:

i) Research and Knowledge Generation;
ii) Publications and Research Dissemination;
iii) Training, Capacity Building and Professionalization of the Social Sciences;
iv) Strengthening the Environment and Infrastructure for the Social Sciences;
v) Convening and networking; and
vi) Outreach, Advocacy and Policy Dialogues.

The main result of the ACSS in 2012, early 2013 is that - after officially having been registered and a general director having been recruited - it started to launch its first set of activities including:

  • New Paradigms Factory fellowships program. Young scholars/activists were invited to submit proposals for writing papers that would challenge prevailing paradigms and assumptions concerning Arab societies as related to the theme "Sovereignty".  The selected fellows got mentor support in developing their papers and were invited to a workshop in Beirut.
  • Research Grants Program on the theme "Inequality, Mobility and Development". Supported research addressing the transformation of Arab societies that have given rise to the recent political movements and uprisings.
  • The first research (working groups) program entitled "Producing the Public in Arab societies: Participation, Space, Media" supported by IDRC started in early 2013 with the creation of a core steering committee.
  • The implementation of the Carnegie funded project "State of the Arab Social Sciences Report" started in early 12013.
  • Inauguration conference "Arab Transformations: Interrogating the Social Sciences" attended by more than 100 scholars (both from the region and from outside) took place in Beirut, March 2013. There were parallel sessions and roundtable discussions on various themes looking at the recent uprisings, current political and social transformations, mechanisms and actors of change.

Research Universities, Research Institutes and Research Centres
Sida's research cooperation with universities and other research organisations aims at enhancing efficiency in the implementation of research strategies by improving research management and making better use of available research resources in partner countries. Increasing the production of knowledge through university research and international cooperation with other universities assists Sida in its poverty-reduction mission. Research universities and other research bodies play a significant role in improving scientific communication and ensuring better access for researchers to research findings and to opportunities for presenting findings of their own to the international research community. Through innovation programmes, which involve cooperation between universities, public authorities, the business sector and civil society, Sida strives to ensure that research has a greater impact on the fight against poverty. Achievements at universities and other research organisation include, for example, i) administration and finance reform, ii) improvement of ICT networks and library information systems, iii) improved programme coordination, and iv) establishment of innovation systems.

Achievements: Research Universities, Research Institutes and Research Centres


Makerere University (MU), Uganda
The Swedish research cooperation with Uganda was initiated in 2000. The focus has been institutional support aimed at building up sustainable institutional research capacity in Uganda. To enable Uganda to have its own knowledge base to address national problems, the support has been focused at Makerere University (MU) the largest public university.

Measurable gains in research capacity at MU from 2000 to 2008 include improved research infrastructure (ICT, library, laboratories, equipment). Sida was instrumental in supporting first the development of the MU ICT Policy and Master plan, and later together with various funders the implementation of it (end user training, network backbone and local area networks, e-mail/intranet/internet services, computers, the set up of the ICT support unit, library information system and e-resources available to all researchers in Uganda). This has enabled the transformation of MU into a university linked to the global research community.MU initiated an administrative reform in 2009 with the expected outputs being an Organisational Handbook, a Research Manual and a Management Information System.

Other results involve i) enhanced international collaboration, ii) increased attracting of international funds, iii) establishment of the innovation system and innovative cluster concept through collaboration between small scale firms/rural farms and local government and decision makers.The University  also works closely with government institutions in the area of innovations and incubation such as the incubation centre at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI). As of 2012 The University also has other incubation centers within it in areas such as Food science, Nutrition and Bioengineering and the Waste Management Incubation centre hosted by the College of Agricultural and Environment.

Sweden supports during the research cooperation agreement period 2010-2014, 105 Ugandan PhD students, 20 Post Doc researchers and 42 MA students. The students represent the following five public universities in Uganda: Makerere University; Gulu University; Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Busitema University, and Kyambogo University.

Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) & Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS), Bolivia

Sida supports research cooperation with Bolivia's two largest universities; Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) and Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSS) with the aim to i) strengthen national knowledge and innovation systems and research environments in areas relevant to development ii) increase the use of domestically generated analytical capacity and knowledge, and iii) increase cooperation between the research community and the public sector, business and industry, and civil society.

Examples of results from the research cooperation with UMSA;

  • A research policy/strategy has been adopted by the University Council.
  • The research findings from the project Aymara Encyclopedia have been adopted by the Ministry of Education and Culture as a policy for intercultural bilingualism.
  • Research findings that have demonstrated the impact of toxic emissions, from for example heavy metals from mining in Oruru, have contributed to the development of guidelines for the control and management of water resources in the affected municipalities.
  • Research findings within microbiology and the development of a vaccine against diarrheal diseases in children have been adopted by the Ministry of Health and Sports as a policy which has contributed to reduce child mortality in the country.

Examples of results from the research cooperation with UMSS;

  • Research within biotechnology has resulted in production of biopolyesters based on a bacteria specific to Bolivia. This in turn has been used to design a bioprocess aimed to transform surplus of a sugar refinery to bio-plastics used to produce biodegradable plastic bags among others.
  • Research within biotechnology has demonstrated that the bioplastic developed by the University also can be used to produce biodegradable  bonereplacements. This work is carried out in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine and has attracted considerable international interest.
  • The Innova project with a focus on cluster development has contributed to an unprecedented collaboration between scientists, clusters, ministries and the regional government of Cochabamba.

Research cooperation with Tanzania
Sida's research cooperation with Tanzania aims to enhance research capacity and to strengthen the institutional capacity for research management and promotion at the Tanzanian Council for Science and Technology (COSTECH). Support has also been aimed towards the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). Since 2007 support has also targeted the two new universities branched off from UDSM; ARDHI University (ARU) and Muhimbili University for Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).

Tanzanian Commission  for Science and Technology (COSTECH)
Bilateral research cooperation with COSTECH has resulted in policy briefs on Intellectual Property Rights issues and sustainable community management of forests have been developed and sent to respective ministries and stakeholders. Consequently, COSTECH was invited to train technical staff of the Tanzania Council of Universities on IPR matters, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism plans to convene a meeting of stakeholders to promote implementation of the recommendations on sustainable community management of forests. A draft National Research Agenda (NRA) has been developed, which will be discussed and adopted at a national workshop in September 2011.COSTECH has also made a competitive research grant call covering agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors with 53 granted proposals.

Univeristy of Dar es Salaam (UDSM)
Thirteen research programs are up and running, covering areas such as marine science, renewable energy, rural and urban infrastructure, access to electronic information, and business administration. The program is well in line with set targets: 80 PhD and 20 MSc finalised and 80 more PhDs and 25 MSc under training by July 2013.  Seven of the 10 completed PhDs and more than half of the MSc have so far been employed by Tanzanian universities thereby strengthening higher education. The others have joined government and the private sector. Given the situation of human resources at UDSM with 547 PhDs and 612 MSc, the project has the potential to increase this capacity by more than 30%. Frothy nine UDSM staff have attended national and international conferences on research management and presented their research results. Four book chapters and 43 publications in international journals have been produced.

ARDHI University (ARU)
The academic qualification of the staff has been improved (16 staff members have successfully accomplished the PhD studies) and 6 new students have been enrolled in the new phase. The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) is the collaborating partner. As capacity has been built to supervise PhD students at ARU, the currently enrolled students will do a licentiate at KTH and PhD at ARU. The program is running well and is on track.

Muhimbili University for Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS)
The project has a total of 35 (45.5% female) postgraduate students. In the reported period, 10 candidates completed their PhDs and are now teaching at MUHAS and working at the university hospital. Several have been promoted to higher academic ranks, contributing to a critical mass of well-motivated teaching staff. Ongoing PhD students are also in advanced stages of finalising their degrees. Research seminars have imparted research skills to junior staff and improved research proposal development. Dissemination of research information has also been achieved through publication. Studies on gender based violence, rape against women, child sexual abuse and domestic violence have for example provided key data on the extent of the problem in Tanzania and how the health and judicial systems cope with abused women and children.

Research cooperation with Vietnam
The Sweden-Vietnam research collaboration dates back to 1976, with support to research projects and training. The programme comprises the three sub-programs Health, Biotechnology and Rural Development. In total, twelve projects within these disciplines, have involved forty five PhD students, about as many Master students and a number of Post Docs from Vietnam undertaking research training through the sandwich model. During 2010 fifteen students have successfully defended their theses and twenty six students have received Master degrees. The overall aim of the bilateral research cooperation is to strengthen research capacity by creating conducive research environment, to provide research education and to assist with methods for planning, setting priorities and allocating funds for research. This includes training of individual researchers, supervisors and coordinators in a holistic fashion, as well as investing in research facilities. After many years of bilateral cooperation the research programme has entered into its final phase during this country strategy period. The programme has resulted in substantial improvement of research capacity at institutional as well as at management level at the Ministry of Science & Technology. The strengthened cooperation between Swedish and Vietnamese researchers has resulted in a wealth jointly written publications in national and international scientific journals together with recommendations for poverty reduction and societal development for equality and human rights.

Among the accomplishments made can be mentioned the development of new vaccines and methods in medical practice, development of new crops to meet changing ecologic and environmental conditions (some of which can be referred to climate change), and in the strategic planning for sustainable agricultural development. During the phasing out period of the research cooperation a number of cooperation projects have commenced under the Partner Driven Cooperation initiative.

Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO)
FLACSO is an intergovernmental social science research and training organisation with academic units in 13 Latin American countries. The objective of Sida's support to FLACSO's Central American Postgraduate Program in the Social Sciences (MSc and Ph.D. level) is to promote the construction of a Central American scientific community that can address the social and political problems in the region.

40 Master and Ph.D. students are registered in the FLACSO programme "Central American Postgraduate Programme in Social Sciences". During 2011 the programme started the sixth class of Master´s degree and continued with the second class of Doctor´s degree (2008-2011) as well as the fifth class of Master´s degree (2009-2011). Eleven master students have graduated during 2010 and 2011. Five of the theses presented were recommended for publication and received honourable mentions.The research topics of the Ph.D. students include domestic violence, dominant masculinity, political systems, public policies, labour overflow and youth, democratisation, governability and consensus, municipal urban management and appropriation of land revenue.  The objective of the studies is the Central American region or comparative studies of two or more countries in the sub-region.

International Research Organisations
Swedish support to international research organisations aim to enhance scientific capacity in developing countries through support  to researchers and research capacity building activities in areas of particular relevance to a developing country, region or continent. Achievements through this sort of research cooperation may include, for example, increased numbers of research grants and improved capacity enhancing activities such as feedback on research proposals, scientific counselling, hands-on training in thematic workshops, research skills courses, mentorship, training visits to advanced laboratories, training courses in service and maintenance of equipment as well as assistance in purchasing scientific equipment and supplies.

Achievements: International Research Organisations


International Association of Universities (IAU)
IAU is a global association of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and university associations. The overall objective of the association is: to provide higher education institutions, particularly in developing countries, with services that help improve their teaching, research and outreach as well as their governance and management, thus enabling them to address global, national and local problems.

IAU has a substantial publications program which Sida supports. In this context, one important objective for Sida is to ensure that research and analysis of higher education and research trends and policy developments produced and circulated by IAU, includes perspectives from developing countries.  In the Sida 2010 years funding the activities included the release of Guide to Higher Education in Africa, the World Higher Education Database CD-ROM, the International Handbook of Universities, the Guide to African Higher Education, the Higher Education Policy Quarterly Journaland and the 3rd Global Survey on Internationalisation of Higher Education. Information on/about IAU included publications like the IAU Horizon and the IAU e-Bulletin. The publications program has increased the availability, use and quality of basic information and intelligence for the academic community to improve the collaboration and networking between higher education institutions from developing and industrialised countries, with particular emphasis on Africa.

IAU is proactive with mobilizing research efforts on new or emerging issues affecting higher education and research. Sida funds such an effort: 'Changing Nature of Doctoral Programs in sub-Saharan Africa'. A unique institutional self-assessment instrument has been developed for easy use by institutions to examine the way in which doctoral programs are managed. A comparative research report produced has been widely disseminated, and three seminars (Nigeria, Cameroon) has taken place focusing on research, data collection and management of/on the change of PhD programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

International Foundation of Science (IFS)
Sida supports IFS in its mission to strengthen scientific capacity in developing countries through support (grants and capacity building activities) to promising young researchers in biological and water resource management, so that they can contribute to development in their own countries. Support includes research grants and capacity enhancing activities such as feedback on research proposals, scientific counselling, hands-on training in thematic workshops, research skills courses, mentorship, training visits to advanced laboratories, training courses in service and maintenance of equipment as well as assistance in purchasing scientific equipment and supplies. In 2010 IFS provided support to 1,700 young scientists in developing countries in the form of research grants, feedback on research proposals including the failed applications, assistance in the purchasing of equipment and supplies, arrangement of workshops and training courses, and network support. One hundred and seventeen new research grants were awarded and 12 grantees have obtained their PhD, 17 grantees were promoted and 18 received national or international awards and have succeeded in getting funding from other resources. 435 young scientists were trained in 13 skill-building workshops that were conducted in 2010. During 2010, IFS arranged one thematic conference and two workshops in collaboration with partners. The new IFS "hub" for eastern Africa has provided 225 scientists information about IFS granting schemes through seminars and has trained 22 young women scientist in scientific data management.

International Science Programme (ISP)
ISP was founded by Uppsala University in 1961 and is a unit within the faculty of technology and natural sciences. The objective of ISP is to contribute to the development of active and sustainable environments for higher education and scientific research in developing countries, within the basic sciences chemistry, mathematics and physics. Assistance is given to development of research groups, regional cooperation and research networks.

The current support through ISP is directed towards research groups, networks and resource centres and is used for degree training (MSc and PhD), equipment, consumables, literature, travels and seminars etc involving co-operation with Sciences faculties in Sweden.  In 2010, 28 research groups were supported in 10 African and 4 Asian countries and in addition 15 regional scientific networks were supported, 12 in Africa, 2 in Asia, and 1 in Latin America. The supported activities in Africa accounted for 78% of the expenditures, in Asia 21%, and in Latin America less than 2%. The total expenditures by ISP-supported research groups and scientific networks in 2010 were 14 MSEK.

A total of 117 PhD students (12% of which were female) were active in ISP-supported research groups and scientific networks in 2010. During the year, 25 students graduated on the PhD level. The number master students were 232, of which 26% were female, and 83 students graduated during the year.

Regarding dissemination of scientific findings in 2010 it can be noted that two thirds of the 83 publications in international scientific journals were in high ranking journals listed with ISI impact factors. International publications clearly dominated over publication in regional (15) and national (2) journals. In addition, 18 contributions were made in the form of books, chapters, popular publications and technical reports. In addition, 230 contributions were made to scientific conferences, 46% at the international, 33% at the regional, and 21% at the national level, and 28 scientific events were arranged.

Examples of research results:

  • The potential of using certain clay materials to remove heavy metals in water was studied by an ISP-supported research group in Burkina Faso and the conditions and mechanisms for chelation, absorption and precipitation of chromium, copper, and lead were determined.
  • A study by a group in Malawi of the quality of water in the plant species Cissus integrifolia and Ademia gummifera, used for drinking purposes under draught conditions, showed that it complied with WHO drinking water standards with regard to most essential parameters.
  • Coir in the form of a rope was evaluated by an ISP-supported research group in Sri Lanka for reducing damage to tomatoes by vibrations during road transport and found to work well compared with styrofoam for this purpose. Coir was found to be an excellent vibration absorber which is easily manageable, environmentally friendly and reusable without getting structurally deformed.

Examples of influence on policy:

  • Ambient and indoor air quality assessment by ISP supported research group members reached policy makers through Kenya National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
  • One member of ISP research network node at UNZA, Zambia, participated in a number of government committees on climate modeling

Academy of Science for the developing World (TWAS)
Sida is supporting scientists and research groups in developing countries in the basic sciences mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology through TWAS. TWAS is an autonomous international organization based in Trieste, Italy. Its principal aim is to promote scientific capacity and excellence for sustainable development in the South.

The goals of the TWAS Research Grants Programme are: to identify and provide financial support for research units and talented young scientists in developing countries, to promote their creativity, to reinforce and promote research in basic sciences, to improve networking among scientists, to counteract the brain drain and reduce the exodus of scientific talents from the South as well as monitoring the trends of science and technology, building and strengthening the research capacity of universities and institutions over a longer period to help them achieve a critical mass of highly qualified and innovative scientists capable of addressing real-life problems facing their countries.

The aim of the Regional Conferences for Young Scientists (RCYS) is to provide a platform for the most talented young researchers in each region of the developing world to share knowledge and interact with each other and with senior colleagues, especially TWAS members, and to help counteract the isolation caused by a combination of lack of access to international conferences, up-to-date scientific literature and fast and reliable internet access.

Sida has since 2011 had a position as observer in the annual TWAS Steering Committee meeting. / On 10th to 12th November 2011, some of the most renowned climate change scientists met at The Climate Change and Food Security: The Road for Africa conference. The conference addressed the scientific and policy options as well as the role of governmental, public, private and non-governmental sectors and community members in mitigating the impact of climate change and help to ensure food security in Africa. The conference was convened by the AAS (African Academy of Sciences), ICIPE (the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology) and The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World - Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa (TWAS-ROSSA). Funding strategy developed and contacts made with ministers in leading developing countries such as Brazil, China, India, with proposals to give core funding. Additional contacts, including the African Development Bank, US National Science Foundation, South Korea, IDRC taken./ 22 grants to young scientists were awarded (12 in biology, 7 in chemistry, 2 in mathematics and 1 in physics). 18 grants to research units were awarded (9 in biology, 4 in chemistry, 1 in mathematics and 4 in physics).

Financial support for four regional meetings (workshops) for young scientists in Africa, in Latin America, in Arab Countries and in Asia was approved in 2010. The main aim of the workshops is to discuss the needs, the scientific trends and the outcome of research in basic sciences in those regions. Participants are always selected on the basis of merit and competition.

In 2010 88 individual scientists (out of which 14 young women scientists) applied for research grants in 2010. The research grants committees awarded 22 grants (12 in biology, 7 in chemistry, 2 in mathematics and 1 in physics) for a total of US$209,484.98. Out of these 22 grants, 6 have been awarded to women (27%) who received a total of US$65,117.99. 41 % of the grants went to Africa, 36 % to Asia and the Pacific and 23% to Latin America and the Caribbean.

TWAS received 70 application forms (out of which 16 from women unit leaders) for consideration in 2010. Out of these, 16 research units (8 in biology, 3 in chemistry, 1 in mathematics and 4 in physics) were awarded for a total of US$335,075.49. Out of these 16 awards, 5 were led by women scientists. 31% of the awards went to Africa, 44% to Asia and the Pacific and 13% to Latin America.

As of the spring of 2012 a new five year agreement between Sida and TWAS is being prepared.

Organization fo Women in Sience fo the Developing World (OWSD)
Sida is supporting PhD-training for young female scientists in developing countries in the basic sciences mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology through OWSD based in Trieste, Italy. The support is used for degree training, equipment, consumables and literature for research at home institution as well as at cooperation institutions in other developing countries. Regarding OWSD, the support is focused.

In its research cooperation with OWSD Sida aims at building research capacity in developing countries through increasing the number of female participants in the programmes. OWSD provides fellowships to young female students from sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDC) to carry out PhD-studies in basic sciences as well as interdisciplinary fields such as biochemistry, medicine etc at centres of excellence in the South. A database of collaborating centres of excellence has been developed, consisting of research institutes and universities in 24 countries in the South that has agreed to accept female students from Sub-Saharan Africa and LDC's through OWSD. A number of these centres of excellence have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with OWSD, waiving tuition and research fees.

Having supported OWSD since 2007, a new five year agreement was reached between the organisation and Sida in June 2012. Looking back on what has been achieved during that time, 55 awardees have successfully defended their theses, bringing the total number of graduates to 119 since the inception of the programme in 1999.

During this period (2007-2011) there were a total of 794 applications received from 39 countries. Biological sciences (including agriculture and medicine) amassed for 83,9% of all application and 79,2% of the awards, while mathematics, engineering, physics, and astronomy, space and earth sciences combined for only 15,5% of the applications (0,6% of the applications were in other scientific fields) and 20,8% of the awards.

Looking at the geographic allocation there were a slight preference for candidates from LDCs (63 awards out of 399 applications) over candidates from Sub-Saharan Africa (43 awards out of 395 applications).

The awardees include Nwe Nwe Htwe from Myanmar, who became the 100th graduate from the programme in 2011. Her PhD thesis, called 'Genetic transformation of rice cultivars for salinity tolerance by particle bombardment', was mostly written during her time at her host institute, the Universiti Putra Malaysia. She now works as a deputy supervisor at the Myanmar Agriculture Service.

Another awardee is Hannah Ajoge, who graduated from the KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in 2011 with her thesis on the molecular epidemiology of human immunodeficiency virus among pregnant women sampled in 2007 from North-central Nigeria. Currently a teacher at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, she was selected to take part in both the 61st Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany, and the 2011STS Forum in Kyoto, where she spoke on behalf of young scientists.

It can also be reported that in an effort to make the work of OWSD and TWAS fellowship graduates reach a wider audience, a repository of theses produced by African scientists was created in 2010 . Here the theses are available for free download for teaching and research purposes.

Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences (SSEESS)
SSEESS is a partnership originally formed between the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA) and four major Swedish science funders (FAS, FORMAS, VR and Vinnova ) with the purpose of improving the impact of Swedish science in the international research arena of Global Environmental Change research. The expected result of SSEESS activities (2010-2013) is an increased impact of Swedish science in global policy, conventions and decisions.

Sida's support to SSEESS is in form of secondment and conference support (SEK 2 837 000 the period October 2010-September 2012). This support was provided with the purpose of implementing Sida's Research Strategy: to strengthen research in relevant areas for development and to strengthen Swedish research of relevance for developing countries and achieve goals of sustainable development. Sida-SSEESS collaboration is also in line with the Action Plan for Sida's Research in Environment and Climate which emphasized on: (i) building synergy between Swedish researchers and research programmes and researchers in developing countries, and (ii) stimulate joint research funding and capacity building initiatives together with other donors.

The specific objectives of the contribution were identified as:

  • Increasing links with organizations and initiatives working with global environmental research in developing countries
  • Strengthening collaboration with the international Council for Sciences (ICSU) regional offices with focus on the Regional Office for Africa (ICSU-ROA), including exploring new models of collaboration between Sida and ICSU
  • Strengthening capacity by enabling participation of developing countries in workshops, conferences and seminars organized or supported by SSEESS

During the first phase of the agreement several results have been achieved, namely: participation of African scientists in several workshops, co-funding of an workshop on Planetary stewardship  organized by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), identification (by way of a questionnaire-survey) of Swedish research strengths and weaknesses in international development cooperation, and a new model of cooperation with  ICSU - particularly fomenting regional activities - been explored.

SciDevNet contributes to enhancing the use of science and technology in policies, programmes and projects that reduce poverty and build sustainable economic growth in the developing world. The overall objective for SciDevNet is to increase the availability of reliable and accessible information about science, technology and innovation to all stakeholders engaged in decision-making and science related issues in the developing world. Though the website the organisation produces and distributes authoritative news, opinion and analysis. In addition SciDevNet provides information about how science and technology can meet the needs of development cooperation.

SciDevNet also work to enhance developing countries researchers' and science communicators' capacity to present accurate and accessible information about science and technology with the view to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice.

Examples of SciDev.Net achievements in 2011:

  • Published 670 news articles (90% of authors came from the developing world).
  • In 2011 SciDev.Net had 1,3 million visits to the website, over 2,4 million page views. More than 50% of all visits came from developing countries.
  • The number of registered SciDev.Net users increased with 10%
  • SciDevNet published 130 original opinion articles and opinion summaries to provide a platform for debate.
  • Blogged from major events, such as World Federation of Science Journalists conference in Qatar.
  • Increased the number of freelance journalists from the developing countries to over 250 people.

Click here to access SciDevs annual reviews.

International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)
INASP is an international development charity working with a global network of partners to improve access, production and uptake of research information and knowledge, so that countries are equipped to solve their development challenges.

Below are some of key achievements from 2012:

Availability of and access to research

  • Enabled access to over 32,000 full text journals, 11,000 full text books and reports, 23,072 abstracted journals and 82 databases from 50 international publishers and aggregators to researchers in low income countries.
  • Over 3,281,000 full text papers downloaded from the international literature.
  • The Journals Online project, which aims to improve the accessibility and visibility of development country research, saw almost 230 titles from Asia and Latin America available in 2012 (88% of which are Open Access). In addition, nearly 5,000 full text research papers were added in 2012.
  • Through African Journals Online (AJOL), based in South Africa, 446 journals have been made available, of which 142 titles (32%) are Open Access.
  • In total, 675 journals from developing and emerging countries are available via the Journals Online - a 50% increase in JOL index size since 2009.
  • Over 4,500,000 full text papers downloaded from the INASP managed Journals Online, plus 9,269,000 full text papers downloaded from AJOL.
  • 1,900 people (46% female) from 660 institutions in 21 countries participated in training, knowledge or skills awareness activities that INASP directly supported.

Creation and uptake of research

  • The AuthorAID knowledge community, mentoring and outreach training workshops reached over 4,500 researchers, supporting their research to be written up, published and communicated via journals, conferences, symposia and posters.
  • INASPs work in supporting evidence-informed policy making saw a total of 160 representatives (42% female) from parliaments, government bodies, CSOs and academia participate in training events, including 40 master trainers from 19 countries in Asia and Latin America.
Research network focusing on agri-chemicals
A new research network in South East Asia and Bangladesh has been formed and will focus on agri-chemicals. Here are representatives taking part in a Results Based Management workshop.
RBM Handbook available
A handbook in Results Based Management is available for download through the link below. The purpose of the handbook is to guide organisations in using RBM for planning, monitoring, reporting and evaluation.
New strategy for research cooperation
The Swedish government has decided on a new strategy for research cooperation valid 2015-2021. The strategy has three results areas: capacity building, research of relevance for development and innovation.
Insect science on CNN
Sida supported insect science institute icipe was recently featured on cnn, in the programme African Voices.
Director for Future Earth Secretariat
As the Future Earth Globally Distributed Secretariat begins to take shape, KVA has initiated the search for the Director for the Swedish Global Hub of the Future Earth Secretariat. The recruitment announcement has already been posted – see links below. More about Future Earth can be found by exploring the web site
Watch the Makerere University video showcasing results from research cooperation with Sweden
– Swedish funds have strengthened research management and coordination, improved the research and publication at Makerere, and improved the funding levels for research and innovation, says professor Mukadasi Buyinza, Sida coordinator at Makerere University. Swedish research cooperation with Uganda was initiated in 2000. On October 6, our successful cooperation was celebrated at Sida Science Day 2014.
The SSEESS Research Links 2015
The “SSEESS Research Links 2015" call for proposals is now open! The grant is aimed at individual researchers within natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities that do research on Global Environmental Change (GEC) issues, are affiliated with a Swedish research institute and already collaborate with at least one regional scientist on the regional priorities.
Research Training Partnership Programme - Uganda
Update: The decision regarding full proposals going forward in the process and those rejected will be sent out to proposal coordinators during the second week of December 2014.
Research Training Partnership Programme - Tanzania
The deadline for submission of joint programme proposals to the Tanzanian Universities/Costech has now passed (November 14th, 2014). Information about the call is still available online through the link below.
Swebol Biotech - From Swedish support to international venture
Bolivia has products of great potential to both domestic and international markets. Research by Mauricio Peñarrieta has shown that its plants are rich on antioxidants and other nutritional values. His research led to the launch of a Swedish-Bolivian venture project called SweBol Biotech, with the purpose of facilitating trade between the countries.
Grants awarded to 38 new research initiatives
ISSC has with support from Sida awarded 38 seed grants to new research initiatives in the field of social transformations. The aim is to build knowledge partnerships needed for longer-term research on the fundamental innovative processes of social transformations towards sustainable and equitable futures. The supported research networks have unique focus on social transformation needs and opportunities in specific social-ecological settings across the world.
Seed funding from ISSC
The call for proposals from ISSC with support from Sida’s research cooperation is now closed. A total of 500 applications were received. The call was for seed funding for 30 grants of €30,000 each with the aim to prepare researchers from all parts of the world to respond meaningfully to the call for Transformative Knowledge Network proposals that will be launched in October 2014.
Sustainable development research
In this short video research fellow Yonas Alem talks about the Sida supported research capacity building programme "Environment for Development initiative" which is based at Gothenburg university, as well as research related to sustainable development.
Sida supports WHO call for action
Sida supports the WHO statement on the prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth. This is a call for action, dialogue, research and advocacy to ensure the rights of women to dignified, respectful healthcare through pregnancy and childbirth. It is a matter of human rights. Sida's research cooperation supports WHO's research programmes HRP, TDR and the Alliance.
"Bolivian universities serve the people"
"Inequality is decreasing and people are speaking about our economic growth across Latin America. This in part has our public universities to thank, and we are very proud of them." Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera at a recent conference in La Paz where twelve years of research cooperation between Sweden and Bolivia was celebrated.
Call open: Research Partnership Programme - Tanzania
Sida is announcing a call for proposals for partnerships between Tanzanian and Swedish universities and institutions called “Research Partnership Programme". The programme aims at supporting the strengthening of institutional research capacities at four key research universities and institutions in Tanzania. Deadline November 14th 2014.
Future Earth secretariat
Stockholm is one of five Global Hubs to comprise the new Future Earth secretariat. The other locations are in Canada, France, Japan and USA. Spread over three continents the secretariat will operate as one entity. Sida supports Future Earth and its research for sustainable development.
PhD student Stella Kioko
Sida supported International Science Programme (ISP) at Uppsala University has made a short film about PhD Student Stella Kioko from Kenya where she tells about her life and her physics research. Sida supports ISP 2014-2018 with 160 Million SEK.
Summary of ReCom findings
Research and Communication on Foreign Aid (ReCom) has now published a summary of their research findings. ReCom was implemented over 2011-2013 in a partnership between UNU-WIDER, Sida and Danida. The aim of the programme was to research and communicate what works and what can be achieved through development assistance.
Sweden and WHO sign new framework agreement for health
Swedish Ambassador Jan Knutsson and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan have signed a contract that marks the first phase of a new six-year framework agreement. WHO’s reform initiative aims to ensure that the organization is well-equipped to address the increasingly complex health challenges of the 21st century. The reform’s objectives are three-fold: to improve health outcomes, to achieve greater coherence in global health and to foster organizational excellence.
Bill Gates’ cooperation with Sida
On the 31st of March Bill Gates held a speech on the theme “The world is getting better – how we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime”. Hannah Akuffo, the acting head of the unit for research cooperation, sat in the panel which raised important questions about how, where and why research and knowledge is needed for a sustainable development. Click the link to watch the lecture!
Innovation for growth
Sida has supported innovation within the research cooperation for many years and the support was recently evaluated. We have now produced a short overview over the evaluation, including two case studies and the conclusions drawn.
Collaboration with Uganda
Received Letters of Intent for partnerships between Makerere University in Uganda and Swedish universities aimed at research capacity strengthening have now been evaluated. Invitations to submit full proposals have been sent out to successful applicants during week 22, 2014. Guidelines for full proposal are available through the link below.
U-forsk and Swedish Research Links
These programs are from 2013 administrated by Vetenskapsrådet (the Swedish Research Council). Read more on their website:
Meet our partners!
Sida works with a number of partner organisations within the research cooperation. We have asked some of them to describe their mission and share their current news.