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Understanding digital access and use in the Global South

As it increasingly becomes the “infrastructure underlying all infrastructures” and drives economic and social development, access to the Internet has become a priority for developing countries. According to a 2009 World Bank study, a 10% increase in broadband penetration generates a 1.4% increase in gross domestic product in low-income countries. Recent studies also revealed the household income of Internet users in several developing countries was 19% higher, on average, than non-users. The Internet is an increasingly essential tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, notably by creating an environment that spurs business growth, nurtures science and innovation, and empowers people.

Africa exemplifies the potential benefits as well the challenges of improving digital inclusion. While access to mobile telephony has risen tremendously, a new gap is emerging between those who have access to broadband Internet and those who do not. Recent studies found women accessed and used the Internet less than men, reflecting their uneven access to education and therefore income. In a context where public services and economic opportunities are increasingly moving online, access to high-speed broadband networks will be an enabler of sustainable livelihoods. Those without access to them, often women and the poor, risk further exclusion from these benefits.

Public policies, informed by timely and accurate data, can contribute to an affordable and inclusive Internet infrastructure. To ensure that the benefits of broadband are more evenly distributed, such policies must take into account the needs and usage patterns of marginalized populations, particularly women and girls. Unfortunately, such timely and accurate data is not currently available in most developing countries.

This project is implemented by Research ICT Africa, a South Africa-based network that conducts research on information and communication technology, policy, and regulation. Its aim is to facilitate evidence-based and informed policymaking for improved access, use, and application of ICTs for social development and economic growth. Working in collaboration with LirneAsia and Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Research ICT Africa will collect nationally-representative data from household and individual surveys in fourteen countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This data will generate evidence on Internet access and usage issues facing users and non-users, particularly among marginalized communities, including women; promote evidence-informed policy change through strategic research communications; and build the capacity of Global South research leaders, enabling them to undertake rigorous policy research.

Project ID
108336
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
30 months
IDRC Officer
Ruhiya Seward
Total Funding
CA$ 2,870,700.00
Location
Argentina
Bangladesh
Cambodia
Colombia
Ghana
Guatemala
India
Mozambique
Nigeria
Pakistan
Paraguay
Peru
Rwanda
Tanzania
Programs
Networked Economies
Networked Economies
Institution Country
South Africa
Project Leader
Institution
Research ICT Africa
Institution Country
Sri Lanka
Project Leader
Institution
LirneAsia
Institution Country
Peru
Project Leader
Institution
Instituto de Estudios Peruanos

Technical support for universal health coverage pilots in Karnataka and Kerala

This project will provide evidence-based support to implement universal health coverage (UHC) pilot activities in two Indian states: Kerala and Karnataka. The project team will provide technical assistance to these early adopter states to assist with UHC intervention activities.

The project aims to consolidate the Public Health Foundation of India's earlier achievements. The foundation responded to calls from Indian states to support the implementation of UHC, and spent three years engaging and collaborating with state and district officials. They provided technical assistance to help officials design and develop their universal health coverage action plans based on an extensive baseline assessment and top health priorities.

This project will help strengthen knowledge and skills at the state and district levels to implement universal health coverage program action plans in Kerala and Karnataka. The project is expected to:
-support officials to take action on recommended interventions
-translate research and analysis into actionable knowledge
-document intervention activities, timelines, responsibilities, and outcomes
-deliver a universal health-coverage monitoring framework at the district level
-create a toolkit and a model to adapt and scale up the project's methodology to other development contexts

Project ID
108285
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
12 months
IDRC Officer
Marie-Gloriose Ingabire
Total Funding
CA$ 149,670.00
Location
India
Programs
Global Health
Global Health
Maternal and Child Health
Institution Country
India
Project Leader
Institution
(name of President) for and on behalf of Public Health Foundation of India

Integrated Rural-Urban Water Management for Climate Based Adaptation in Indian Cities (iAdapt)

This research project will enable two mid-sized Indian cities and their catchments to transition toward an integrated climate-proof approach to water management, providing greater water security to residents. Lack of water security in India Cities across South Asia face extreme water insecurity due to a changing climate and rapid urbanization. The cumulative impacts of urbanization and climate include flooding and water shortages within city boundaries and surrounding catchments. There are serious short- and long-term consequences on human health, physical assets, economic development, and social systems. Cities are not closed systems. In most cases, city-centric responses alone are inadequate. To work, adaptive climate-proof integrated urban water management must extend throughout the whole catchment, an approach known as integrated water resource management. This approach promotes coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, maximizing equitable economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. In the urban context, this also means increasing the climate resilience of homes and industries. Adaptation through innovation The project work will take place in two mid-sized Indian cities and their surrounding catchments: Solapur District, Maharashtra State and Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh State. Both face increasingly frequent drought and flood-related impacts, as well as water-use conflicts. The research team will identify and pilot specific interventions, which in turn will help build the cities' adaptive capacities. The interventions will be targeted to address the gaps and barriers that prevent city stakeholders from engaging with surrounding catchments to adopt integrated urban water management and integrated water resource management approaches. By the end of the iAdapt project, the two cities will have the tools they need to implement climate adaptation strategies through participatory planning, integrated urban water management, integrated water resource management, and access to climate finance options.

Project ID
108224
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
46 months
IDRC Officer
Melanie Robertson
Total Funding
CA$ 1,013,000.00
Location
India
Programs
Climate-Resilient Food Systems
Climate-Resilient Food Systems
Climate Change
Institution Country
India
Project Leader
Institution
ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia

Climate Adaptive Water Management Plans for Cities in South Asia

This project will address the threat of extreme water insecurity, or reduced access to water, in South Asia's cities. The changing climate and rapid urbanization have increased the risks, and local governments have been unable to find solutions. Water realities and risks South Asia has experienced changes in rainfall patterns, with fewer rainy days and longer dry spells. The problem is threatening the watersheds that supply essential water to cities and peri-urban areas on the outskirts of cities. Rapid urbanization - marked by more informal settlements, pollution, inadequate infrastructure, and urban poverty - is further compounding the issue. These fast-growing cities are therefore more vulnerable to extreme weather events. They face a range of short-term and long-term consequences to human health, physical infrastructure, and local economic development. Local governments need plans Many local governments have not been able to address these challenges. They lack climate-specific city action plans and adaptation strategies. This project will address the gap and provide the support they need. The project aims to: -investigate urban water insecurity under changing climates in four small- to medium-sized cities in north India and Nepal -identify a variety of city-specific adaptation strategies -propose governance and planning strategies for cities to adapt their management of urban water systems -identify specific entry points for piloting and up-scaling recommended adaptation solutions The project team will develop and pilot test climate adaptive water management strategies specific to each of the four cities. They will also: -produce scientific, peer-reviewed publications on the governance of urban water systems -conduct an economic analysis of climate adaptive water management options -propose strategies for gender sensitive approaches to urban water management They will share the results with local communities, development practitioners, and decision-makers.

Project ID
108212
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
36 months
IDRC Officer
Bhim Adhikari
Total Funding
CA$ 923,900.00
Location
India
Nepal
Programs
Climate Change
Climate Change
Institution Country
Nepal
Institution
Southasia Institute of Advanced Studies

kNOw Fear: Making Rural Public Spaces Safe for Women and Girls

Despite constitutional guarantees, violence both within and outside the home is an ever-present threat and an everyday reality for a large majority of women and girls across India. In recent years, greater attention to incidents of violence against women in urban areas has produced new evidence about different forms of violence there. However, similar understanding of and evidence on the scale and different forms of violence against women in public spaces in rural areas does not exist. Acute violence against women and girls in rural areas has remained unaddressed, receiving scant policy attention.

This project proposes to fill this gap by developing and validating an innovative evidence-informed model, kNOw Fear, to foster freedom from violence and safety for women and girls in rural public spaces in India. It will identify specific pathways of gender-based violence prevention and deliver an intervention model where both young women and men will come together to change attitudes, transform gender-regressive norms and practices, and contribute to making local governance institutions accountable to women's safety in rural public spaces.

The project will concurrently build capacities of the elected members of local governance bodies, the Panchayati Raj Institutions, who are constitutionally mandated to ensure social justice and equitable development. The intention is to encourage them to respond to violence against women and girls, thereby positioning public safety for women and girls as a critical component of rural local governance. kNOw Fear will be led by the International Centre for Research on Women in collaboration with the Society for Women's Action and Training Initiatives (SWATI) and SETU Abhiyan, a group of development organizations in Kutch, India.

Project ID
108202
Project Status
Active
Duration
36 months
IDRC Officer
Navsharan Singh
Total Funding
CA$ 799,800.00
Location
India
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Institution
International Center for Research on Women

Family Law Reform to Challenge Gender-Based Violence: A Research and Knowledge-Based Advocacy Project

Although gender-based violence (GBV) is endemic globally, some of the highest rates in the world are found in Muslim-majority countries where conservative interpretations of Islamic Family Law persist. Such interpretations often lead to and justify practices such as early child and forced marriage, loss of guardianship by the mother of her children, prohibition of women from initiating divorce, the practice of honour killing, and the right of parents and family members to control the bodies of their spouses, daughters, and female relatives, including the practice of female genital mutilation. As a result, any solution to GBV must address both legislation and cultural understanding if legal reform is to succeed. Such a solution must involve the promotion of moderate interpretations of Islamic Law, by women, women's groups, and other civil society organizations, to challenge the authority of fundamentalist religious authorities and others. This project aims to empower women by informing them about Islamic Family Law, and to provide more moderate interpretations of these laws to protect their human rights as well as to prevent and overcome GBV. This proposed research and advocacy project on GBV will be led by the Lebanon-based Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), building on its 15-year history of research and advocacy training on combating gender-based violence in more than 50 countries. The project seeks to (1) challenge GBV through research and the development of locally-led new knowledge on how to reform Family Law in Muslim-majority countries; (2) use the research as a basis for effective national advocacy against GBV; and (3) build a global advocacy network, the first of its kind, for those who experience GBV justified in the name of religion. The countries of focus will be Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, West Bank and Gaza, Morocco, Mauritania, Pakistan, Senegal, and India (where Muslims are a minority). WLP's wide-scale partnership with well-established organizations located in countries with Muslim majorities in the Global South and India will enable it to reach the widest number of beneficiaries and provide culturally specific, effective solutions for countering GBV. The organization's long history of work with international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Bank, will also allow it to effectively mobilize the international community in support of a global advocacy campaign against GBV.

Project ID
108201
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
36 months
IDRC Officer
Roula El-Rifai
Total Funding
CA$ 808,400.00
Location
North of Sahara
South of Sahara
Central Asia
South Asia
Far East Asia
Brazil
India
Iran
Middle East
Nigeria
Senegal
Turkey
Programs
Employment and Growth
Governance and Justice
Employment and Growth
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Institution
Women's Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace, Ltd.

Regulation of Food and Beverage Advertising and Marketing in India

Foods and beverages rich in salt, sugar, calories, and saturated fats, but deficient in micronutrients, have flooded Indian food markets. Indian consumers are showing an increased preference for them. This project will help strengthen Indian policies for regulating advertising and marketing of food and beverage products in the country. Increase in non-communicable diseases When coupled with low physical activity and unhealthy lifestyle practices, these unhealthy foods and beverages are increasing the non-communicable disease burden and risk factors such as overweight and obesity. At the same time, there has been a surge in innovative, misleading advertising and marketing that targets minors to promote unhealthy foods and beverages. One recommended strategy to curb the growing obesity epidemic is to restrict advertising and promotion of unhealthy food products targeting youth. While India has food advertising and promotion regulations, implementation is based on self-regulation. This has proven to be an ineffective strategy. Toward healthier lifestyle choices This two-year project will: -analyze and identify policy gaps related to the advertising and promotion of unhealthy foods and beverages to Indian children and adolescents -assess the extent to which Indian adolescents are receptive to food marketing, both in their perceptions and behaviours -provide evidence-based recommendations to make existing regulations more effective The project team will engage stakeholders to ensure that the research recommendations will influence the Government of India's food policy agenda.

Project ID
108182
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
24 months
IDRC Officer
Arlyne Beeche
Total Funding
CA$ 295,000.00
Location
India
Indonesia
Programs
Food, Environment, and Health
Food, Environment, and Health

Status of Social Science Research in India (TTI Phase 2)

Despite rising demand in India for research and knowledge, social science research funding by government is low and has been declining over the last two decades. The majority of Indian think tanks producing evidence are struggling to survive, owing to a lack of adequate core funding to continually renew their institutions. Project funding often only covers the costs of projects, and private philanthropy is inadequate to meet the need.

The lack of a national social science research policy is a constraint to the long-term sustainability of research institutions. A major roadblock in the design of such a national policy is the limited evidence on the supply and demand trends in the policy research sector itself. This project, funded through the Think Tank Initiative (TTI), will address these crucial gaps by undertaking a set of research studies to provide detailed evidence on the institutional landscape, funding, research infrastructure, extent and types of collaborations, and quality dimensions in the social science research sector.

Among the project's outputs will be a national report on the state of social science research and a set of recommendations for the design of a national social science research policy. The renewal of the social science research infrastructure is expected to result in a substantial, positive impact on public policy research in India and it will promote and encourage high quality national research management standards.

About the Think Tank Initiative

TTI is a multi-funder program dedicated to strengthening independent policy research institutions, or think tanks, in developing countries. The program aims to enhance their ability to provide sound research that informs and influences policy.

This second TTI phase (2014-2019) will fund 43 institutions, helping them consolidate their role as credible development actors in their countries, and in some cases, regionally and internationally.

Project ID
108132
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
12 months
IDRC Officer
Samar Verma
Total Funding
CA$ 75,397.00
Location
India
Programs
Think Tank Initiative
Think Tank Initiative
Institution Country
India
Project Leader
Institution
[Member-Secretary] for and on behalf of Indian Council of Social Science Research

Scaling Up Small Millet Post-Harvest and Nutritious Food Products (CIFSRF Phase 2)

Small millets have superior nutritional qualities and climate resilience, but small millet production and consumption in many South Asian countries, such as India, remains low. This project will address the challenge with research that will scale up small millet processing and value-added technologies. Technology solutions to improve processing Processing millets for modern food preparation is difficult, but new and practical innovations can make the grain easier to process, sell, and consume. This project will scale up use of two small millet production innovations developed through IDRC-funded research: improved post-harvest processing equipment and new millet-based food products. Engineers from Canada and India have developed two low-cost machines that farming communities, entrepreneurs, and food producers can easily use to separate the outer husk from the millet seed. This is a laborious and time-consuming job typically done by women. The innovation will increase local production and opportunities to use these micronutrient-rich grains in healthy food products. Advancing knowledge and healthy options Building on previous research that developed 40 new millet-based snack foods, baked goods, and other products, the research team will work with local communities, especially women's self-help groups, to implement this project. The project will take a supply chain approach to test interventions at different levels in the production-to-consumption system. This includes testing new ways to provide customized business development support to small- and medium-sized enterprises, training micro enterprises and farmer organizations, and linking key supply chain players. The research team will also provide support to equipment manufacturers to ensure they have the capacity and capabilities to provide dehullers and other equipment that meet the processing needs of villages, micro-enterprises, and other companies. Small scale, large impact By the end of the project, two new business models will be tested to help governments and companies expand millet production and distribution across India and beyond. The project will increase capacity within at least five companies to manufacture different dehulling and processing equipment. These companies will serve villages, micro-enterprises, and large food producers. The project will also increase skills and knowledge at 10 small enterprises (e.g., hotels), 150 micro-enterprises (e.g., street vendors), and three farmer organizations to market appealing, ready-to-eat small millet products to more than 120,000 consumers. This project is funded under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a program of IDRC undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

Project ID
108128
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
27 months
IDRC Officer
Annie Wesley
Total Funding
CA$ 1,463,389.00
Location
India
Programs
Agriculture and Food Security
Canadian International Food Security Research Fund
Institution Country
India
Project Leader
Institution
[Executive Director] for and on behalf of DHAN (Development of Humane Action) Foundation
Institution Country
Canada
Project Leader
Institution
The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University

Scaling up the production and distribution of double-fortified salt in India

After a decade of laboratory and pilot plant work in Canada and India, a cost-effective, double-fortified salt formulation has been successfully tested for efficacy and use in the field. Building on the success of universal salt iodization, which reaches 5 billion people globally, this salt enables regular, sustained intake of iron in addition to iodine. It recently received regulatory approval in India. This project will adapt and transfer the technology from Canada to India. It will take to scale the manufacture and distribution of a shelf-stable salt, double-fortified with iron and iodine. It will generate new knowledge and innovation to improve the diets of up to 15 million rural poor (predominantly those engaged in agriculture) in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The technology will be specifically tailored to existing manufacturing capabilities, ensuring sustainability and adherence to quality standards beyond the project period. By the end of 28 months, the new salt product will be supplied in 10 districts in Uttar Pradesh through fair price shops under the public distribution system. Lower-income populations will be targeted. The team will work to reduce the cost of production and transfer it to private sector food processors in India. Public and private sector models, based on consumer response and policy dialogue, will be developed for continued and expanded availability of the salt throughout India, where 800 million people consume salt on a daily basis. This project is funded under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a program of IDRC undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada (formerly Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada).

Project ID
108123
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
28 months
IDRC Officer
Annie Wesley
Total Funding
CA$ 1,421,980.00
Location
India
Programs
Agriculture and Food Security
Canadian International Food Security Research Fund
Institution Country
Canada
Project Leader
Institution
The Governing Council of the University of Toronto
Institution Country
India
Project Leader
Institution
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India for Medical Education
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