Strengthening collaboration between Canadian and developing-country universities

June 07, 2016
Capacity Building Participants

Canadian and Ethiopian researchers collaborate on a nutrition project as part of the Global Partners program.

Daouda Badio

For the first time ever, in 2010-2012 the University of Saskatchewan hosted a small grants program that linked eight of its schools, colleges, faculties, and institutes with institutions in 16 developing countries. The Global Partners initiative, supported by IDRC through its Canadian Partnerships program, aims to facilitate two-way exchanges between Canadian and developing-country institutions.

Over the period, the University of Saskatchewan awarded 30 grants: two-thirds of the two-way exchanges involved master’s or doctoral students working in partnership with universities in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Others involved faculty researchers only.

This was the first IDRC-supported small-grant research exchange program to be hosted by one university. The University of Saskatchewan contributed a significant portion of the budget, allowing it greater control over applicants and projects to support. Among the projects funded was the design and launch of a health clinic for women and children at risk in Tanzania, laying the groundwork for a national wildlife health centre in Sri Lanka, and the development of an agriculture and nutrition strategy in Ethiopia. These three projects and others were able to secure additional funds to pursue the work: in total, the Global Partners exchanges secured CA$5 million in additional funding.

The exchanges have also generated more than 22 scholarly outputs including published manuscripts, papers, and presentations at seminars and conferences. For example, see Jannie Yeung’s thesis on developing participatory indicators for gender equity in fair trade coffee cooperatives (PDF, 2.9MB).

After seeing how successful this new approach can be for managing research exchange programs, IDRC will assess whether an expanded version might enable several universities to collaborate more effectively one with another in particular regions of the world.