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Supporting the Swedish Resource Base
Published: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:00:52 GMT   Updated: Sat, 07 Feb 2015 09:52:49 GMT
Sida supports a whole range of Swedish research activities that focus on themes and regions, relevant to development cooperation. For example, Sida works closely with Swedish Research Councils in organising joint calls, and collaborates with Swedish Universities as a part of the capacity strengthening activities in the bilateral programs.

Support to the Swedish resource base aims at supporting research of high quality which contribute to the Swedish knowledge production in the implementation of development cooperation. Swedish universities have several key roles in the global development politics; they function as cooperation partners in the development of research training and research administration at universities in Sida's partner countries, and work to generate new knowledge in order to influence international negotiations and decision making processes.

The LINKS and U-forsk programmes


The Swedish Research Links Programme offers international collaborative research grants, aiming to foster research ties between researchers in Sweden and selected countries. The long-term aim of the programme is to contribute to mutual scientific and socioeconomic development of the countries involved through funding for support to collaborative research projects of high scientific quality and mutual relevance. The programme is open to researchers in basic and applied research within all academic disciplines.

From 2013 and onwards, the Links programme is in entirety by Vetenskapsrådet (the Swedish Research Council).

Formerly managed by Sida, the responsibility of the U-Forsk programme has now been transferred to Vetenskapsrådet. The programme supports Swedish research of particular relevance to developing countries. Between 2014-2017, 136 214 000 SEK is to be distributed to 40 different institutions, research centres and organisations.

Report: U-forsk - A statistical analysis of Swedish research support during the period 1997-2010 (in Swedish)

Network support

Since 2004 Sida has supported a number of national research networks to promote increased contacts between Swedish researchers, as well as between Swedish researchers and practitioners within areas of particular relevance for development. Network support is also used as a tool to improve contacts between Swedish researchers and researchers in the South. Achievements in network support programmes include, for example, dissemination of research, organising of seminars, workshops and conferences and development of links between researchers.


The Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences (SSEESS) was established in 2010, as a result of a partnership between the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte), the Swedish Research Council Formas, the Swedish Research Council (VR) and Sida. SSEESS is based at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

Its aim is to increase Sweden's involvement in international research programmes and panels dealing with Global Environmental change (GEC) issues, thereby improving Swedish and international GEC research. This requires from SSEESS to widely inform about international GEC programmes, improve opportunities for GEC researchers in Sweden to participate in such programmes, and to increase collaboration between international GEC research programmes and Swedish key-players such as funders, politicians, and the Swedish National Committee for Global Environmental Change.

Sida supports SSEESS in form of secondment and conference support during the agreed funded period of time (10 October 2010 - 31 December 2016). The current agreement period 20140101-20161231 comprises a financial support of 7 900 000 SEK in total.

Joint calls
Another aspect of results within the Swedish resource base involve the joint call that Sida organises with  Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas). The joint calls contribute to Sida's objective since they create a collaborative platform upon which actors can combine their strengths and the knowledge base can be enhanced. Collaborative efforts produce more reliable and powerful results than does a stand alone approach. The joint calls aim to increase cooperation between scientists from Sweden and in developing countries. This provides both researchers and the funding bodies (Sida, MSB and Formas) with advantages as programme results are best achieved through synergy efforts. The idea is that through abandoning the "silo ap proach" valuable research results will be delivered. Such an approach also assists in coordinating and harmonizing program activities.

MSB and Formas

Sida and MSB announce a joint call on the research theme of the global fight against communicable diseases.  MSB and Sida together fund a three-year program and the applications must be relevant for both or one of MSB's or Sida's areas of interest. The project should comprise a 1-6 months stay/year for the main applicant in Sweden at a recognized research institute/university in a developing country. The project should include a co-applicant from a developing country.

The programme, which is co-funded by Sida and Formas, promotes high-quality research in support of sustainable societal development. Such a development requires that the health and welfare of man and animals together with biodiversity, environment, nature's production capacity, economy as well as ethical, social and cultural aspects, should all be considered.  In 2010 a total of 20 research projects were funded through the call and together these will strengthen the research capacity of developing countries and promote development-oriented research. Additionally, the funded projects will promote scientific cooperation between researchers in Sweden and in developing countries. For 2013-2017 a total of 8 million SEK  per year is available for mobility grants to young researchers.

Research Results
The assistance Sida provides the Swedish resource base with is partially aimed at producing new knowledge. The mission is to promote research that is of direct relevance to partner countries, that assists Sida and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in their work with development issues or that can be utilised in international negotiations dialogues and policy making processes.

Examples of Research Results


Abalone and seaweed farming in South Africa
Through the Links programme and the U-forsk programme the Unit for Research Cooperation supported a research project on abalone and seaweed farming in land-based systems in South Africa. The research has included cultivation aspects of seaweeds in the integrated system as well as analysis of abalone farming from a larger perspective, including both ecological and socio-economic impacts of the industry on local and national scales. Thus, this research project investigates products and business of the private sector in South Africa that can benefit the people at the base of the pyramid and contribute to fight against poverty and climate change.

Scientific output from the project clearly indicates that seaweeds can successfully be integrated with abalones. The South African partners have gathered more than a year's continuous data on growth of Gracilaria and Ulva in experimental integrated tank cultures. The results have shown that Ulva is the better and more consistent seaweed to use in integration with abalone. This is because it has a high growth rate and is less prone to epiphytes and general fouling of the tanks. Ulva also has the potential for highest protein content. The highest figures of nitrogen measured in Ulva correspond to almost 45% protein in the plant, a value comparable with growth of Ulva in aquaculture systems elsewhere.

The accumulated information within the project may help the South African abalone industry to continue playing an important role as an income generating activity for many disadvantageous coastal people. The main collaborating abalone farm has today designed and implemented a 50 % re-circulating abalone seaweed platform capable of supporting 120 tons of abalone and producing 105 tons of seaweed a year. Two additional farms have also invested in two large seaweed paddle ponds each for research and development for feed production and recirculation. These large-scale initiatives would never been possible without the research findings resulting from the project.

Scientific findings together with capacity building have been main results from the project. Overall there have been 39 African students who obtained financial support through this research and 16 students (7 South Africa, 1 Mozambican, 8 Swedish) received travel and living expenses for visits between South Africa and Sweden. In addition 7 supervisor trips were made to facilitate students experiment setup. A total of 7 honours, 19 masters and 5 PhD's were generated through this project. Five technical documents were produced, 24 presentations were given at various workshops, and 18 peer-reviewed papers were published with several more papers still in manuscript form. Results have been presented at 58 conferences, including both oral and poster presentations. The project also generated public interest through popular articles (16) and public lectures (37).


Hydrological and Hydrodynamic Processes in Ethiopia
Assistance to the Swedish resource base is also directed towards training of PhD students. In 2010 a Sida funded PhD thesis on "Modeling Hydrological and Hydrodynamic Processes in Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia" was finalised. The objective of the study was to assess the influence of topography, soil, land use and climatic variability on the hydrological and hydrodynamic processes of the Lake Tana Basin. One of the most effective ways of combating poverty and saving resources is functioning support for water. Hence, this study contributes to Sidas's development efforts since clean and plentiful water is a necessity for a reasonable life.

Results from the study indicate that 12 to 30.5% of the watershed is high erosion potential and that there may be significant changes in streamflow and other hydrological parameters in the period 2045-2100. The study investigated the flow structures, stratification, the flushing time, lake water balance and finally the Lake's water levels in Lake Tana as response to the planned water removal. Findings illustrate how the Lake Tana Basin may experience a negative change in the forthcoming decades due to climate change as well as over abstraction of water resources. The planned water withdrawal may lead to an alarming and dramatic fall of the water levels. The combination of the two models used in this study can be can be used as a decision support tool to better understand and manage land and water resources in watersheds and waterbodies. The study concluded that the lake is vulnerable to changes in the external conditions. A sustainable use of water resource of the lake will require awareness of its vulnerability. To achieve this task the combined watershed hydrodynamic models are effective tools.

Bilateral Research Cooperation
Bilateral research programmes give Swedish institutions the opportunity to cooperate with universities in partner countries. The aim is to strengthen research activities between Sweden and developing countries and to promote the exchange of ideas and information in the search of solutions to pressing development issues. In Ethiopia, for example, Sida support for collaborative research projects between Swedish institutions and research universities and research centres in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa University and Armauer Hansen Research Institute)

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