Canada-Africa grants spur novel ideas, networks

June 22, 2016
Eric Smith

Short-term collaborations between Canadian and African researchers has generated compelling results on such pressing issues as maternal and child health, climate change impacts, and alternative energy sources. The Canada Africa Research Exchange Grants (CAREG) program fostered collaborations between researchers in seven African countries and counterparts at universities in Ontario, Québec, and Manitoba. Managed by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) with financial support from IDRC, CAREG set out to strengthen international partnerships and emerging networks involving African and Canadian academic researchers.

Modelled on a similar peer research program between Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean, CAREG funded eight projects during a two-year pilot program that began in 2010. For example, researchers at the University of Western Ontario and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana studied biodiesel production from waste cooking oil and jatropha, a non-edible plant that thrives in arid environments unsuited to farming. The team achieved promising results using a novel extraction technique to produce biodiesel, and will share their findings with policymakers working on a national energy policy.between Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean, CAREG funded eight projects during a two-year pilot program that began in 2010. For example, researchers at the University of Western Ontario and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana studied biodiesel production from waste cooking oil and jatropha, a non-edible plant that thrives in arid environments unsuited to farming. The team achieved promising results using a novel extraction technique to produce biodiesel, and will share their findings with policymakers working on a national energy policy.

Another research team, from the University of Manitoba and the University of Nairobi, focused on maternal and child health in Kenya. Three new faculty members from the University of Nairobi spent three months in Manitoba taking courses to improve skills in epidemiology, research design, and statistics. Two Canadian researchers spent three months in Nairobi, where they helped develop a study to evaluate maternal and newborn outcomes at Kenyatta National Hospital. The research team has since received funding for a major maternal and child health initiative supported by the Canadian International Development Agency.

In June 2012, 21 CAREG participants gathered at a workshop in Ottawa to share research results and look ahead to a possible new phase.