Global Research for Local Action

Event date:
December 01, 2016
IDRC, 8th floor, Hopper Rooms A&B
150 Kent Street
9:00am - 4:00pm

The International Development Research Centre is pleased to present a one-day conference showcasing the research activities of the 2016 Research Award Recipients.

This year’s 10 Research Award Recipients undertook a one-year paid program of research that focused on one or more developing country, was aligned with IDRC’s mission, and was relevant to IDRC’s mandate.

All are welcome. Please RSVP by November 28, 2016 to

Agenda at a glance

Session 1 – 9:10 to 10:15

Nana Anima Akrofi (@anaminaj16)
An analysis of the role and performance of youth in the cassava value chain in Ghana

Gloria Song (@gloooooria)
Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act in Guyana

Session 2 – 10:30 to 12:00

Parnali Dhar Chowdhury (@ParnaliC)
Understating school children’s knowledge and perception of beverage consumption patterns in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Catherine Gucciardi Garcez (@CGucciGarcez)
Distributed electricity generation and resilient cities: Governance for the energy-climate-social inclusion nexus in Brazil

Juan Carlos Rivillas (@RivillasJuanito)
Health financing-related inequalities in maternal and infant mortality in Colombia

Session 3 – 13:00­ to 14:35

Erika Malich (@erikathinks)
Research accessibility for policy influence in Peru

Heather McIntosh (@hmcin041)
Tracing networks of influence: Digital innovations in the crisis response to the 2015 Nepal earthquakes

Rachel Kalbfleisch (@Rkalbfle)
Growth aspirations of youth micro-entrepreneurs in Nairobi: A case study of the Jua Kali manufacturing sector

Session 4 – 14:50 to 15:55

Gussai Sheikheldin (@GussaiHS)
Re-inviting innovation: Public technology intermediaries in Tanzania

Andréanne Martel (@AndreanneMartel)
How might we integrate a complex issue and a scaling strategy? The case of including gender along the pathway to scale (India)

Nana Anima Akrofi

Program: Agriculture and Food Security, IDRC regional office for sub-Saharan Africa
Twitter handle: @anaminaj16
Project title: An analysis of the role and performance of youth in the cassava value chain in Ghana
Country of focus: Ghana

Presentation description:

Cassava is the largest contributor to Ghana’s agricultural GDP. The cassava value chain represents a strategic and growing sector for economic development in several countries, including Ghana, where youth can enhance their job creation. Current analysis of youth engaged in agriculture has been at an aggregate level; with such analysis, it is difficult to understand whether the youth engaged in activities related to agriculture are at a disadvantage relative to their adult counterparts. This analysis uses the cassava value chain as a case study to address the lack of evidence of where youth are concentrated along the cassava value chain, why this is the case, their performance, and the constraints they face.


Prior to joining the Agriculture and Food Security program as a 2016 Research Award Recipient at IDRC, Anima was an agribusiness postgraduate at the University of Ghana. Her research focus is on youth in the cassava value chain, their role, and their performance, with a focus on gender. Her other research interests include food systems and nutrition, climate change, post-harvest loss intervention, and providing direct services to improve health and food security status in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa. Anima has worked as a research assistant at the University of Ghana on nutrition and other projects sponsored by CARE International (Ghana), AJINOMOTO Company (Japan), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Alliance for Global Research in Agriculture (AGRA), World Food Program (WFP), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS-UK) in Ghana. She is currently a research assistant on the Indicators of affordability of nutritious diets in Africa (IANDA) project between Tufts University, the University of Ghana, and Sokoine University.

Gloria Song

Program: Governance and JusticeTwitter handle: @gloooooria
Project title: Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act in Guyana
Country of focus: Guyana

Presentation description:

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Domestic Violence Act passing into effect in Guyana, a Caribbean country that struggles with high rates of gender-based violence. The Domestic Violence Act enables victims of domestic violence to apply to the courts for protection orders. But how effective is the law at providing protection against domestic violence? This study examines the experiences and perspectives of justice service providers — including lawyers, magistrates, NGOs, and government — to identify issues within the protection order application process and the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The study aims to develop recommendations on the next steps to take to protect and empower survivors of domestic violence.


Prior to joining IDRC, Gloria practiced as a poverty lawyer in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, for the Legal Services Board of Nunavut. She currently serves as the co-chair of the Law Society of Nunavut’s Access to Justice Committee. She has also worked at the Legal Assistance Centre’s Gender Research and Advocacy Project in Windhoek, Namibia, where she conducted human rights law research as part of the Canadian Bar Association’s Young Lawyers International Program; as a criminal defense intern for a war crimes trial in the Hague at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; and as a research assistant at an Aboriginal land claims research firm. Gloria completed a master of laws at the University of Ottawa, with a research focus on access to justice in Nunavut. She also holds a juris doctor law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, and a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in political science from the University of Ottawa.

Parnali Dhar Chowdhury

Program: Food, Environment and Health
Twitter handle: @ParnaliC
Project title: Understating school children’s knowledge and perception of beverage consumption patterns in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Country of focus: Bangladesh

Presentation description:

Over the second half of the last century, soft drinks and other sugary beverages have assumed an increasingly significant proportion of total energy intake in children, and they are a major contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic. With the relationship between sugary drink consumption and childhood obesity as a backdrop, this study explores the key risk factors leading schoolchildren to buy sugary drinks, and how television commercials and the food environments at home and school influence the purchase and consumption of sugary drinks.


Parnali completed her PhD on understanding dengue transmission in Bangladesh in 2015. She received numerous funding and awards for her doctoral research, including the Manitoba Health Research Council Doctoral Fellowship, the IDRC Doctoral Research Award, and the Sanofi Pasteur Award for Communicable Disease Epidemiology. She holds two master’s degrees and has project management and coordination experience with multiple partnering institutions in the United States, Canada, and Bangladesh. Prior to joining the Food, Environment, and Health team as the Research Award Recipient in January 2016, Parnali worked as a visiting scientist at the National Microbiology Laboratory at the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg. Her current research explores the association of child obesity and consumption of sugary drinks. Upon completion of her IDRC Research Award Recipient position, Parnali will join the US Food and Drug Administration as Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE) Research Fellow to pursue future research on infectious diseases (i.e. arboviruses) and health risk factors in South Asia and South America.

Catherine Gucciardi Garcez

Program: Climate Change
Twitter handle: @CGucciGarcez
Project title: Distributed electricity generation and resilient cities: Governance for the energy-climate-social inclusion nexus in Brazil
Country of focus: Brazil

Presentation description:

Catherine’s research at IDRC examines the governance of distributed renewable electricity pilot projects in low income, urban, and peri-urban communities in Brazil. Distributed electricity generation (DG) is a growing trend for incentivizing renewables and increasing energy efficiency in the electricity sector. It is expected to play an important role in the transition to a low-carbon energy system, which could contribute to two Sustainable Development Goals (7 and 13). Catherine explored five pilot projects; two take place in social housing programs in the northeast region of Brazil, with one generating income for the families through the sale of electricity, while the other offsets their residential consumption. Three pilots in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas offset consumption at a time when electricity is transitioning from illegal connections to regulated ones. The research seeks to draw lessons from the pilot projects that may guide the governance of resilient and inclusive cities in Brazil.


Catherine completed her PhD in sustainability policy and management at the Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Brasilia in August 2015. During her doctorate program, she worked as a research fellow in the Brazilian Climate Network (Rede Clima), which focused on climate change adaptation of smallholder farmers in Brazil’s semi-arid region. Catherine also completed her master’s in environmental policy and management at the University of Brasilia, which focused on biofuel policy in Brazil. At the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Catherine worked as an energy supply advisor on a variety of files related to renewable energy and climate change, such as the province’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative and the Green Energy Investment Agreement. Catherine completed her bachelor of applied science and engineering at the University of Toronto. She is particularly interested in interdisciplinary research that explores nexus issues such as governance, energy, and inclusive and sustainable development.

Juan Carlos Rivillas

Program: Maternal and Child Health
Twitter handle: @RivillasJuanito
Project title: Health financing-related inequalities in maternal and infant mortality in Colombia
Country of focus: Colombia

Presentation description:

Health financing is contributing to the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals. Therefore, health financing policies and resource mobilization can determine equity in the use of health services, quality of care, and universal financial protection in support of maternal and infant health policy implementation. This study contributes to the existing literature and addresses some research gaps by identifying existing inequalities in maternal and infant mortality driven by health financing as a social and economic dimension in Colombia.


Prior to joining IDRC’s Maternal and Child Health program as a Research Award Recipient, Juan Carlos acted as the director of national health observatories in the Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection in Bogotá, Colombia. He has received research funding from the European Commission to study health inequalities in Italy and from the British Council to study the health economics network in London. His main research interests are health financing policies in support of universal health coverage, measuring social inequalities, poverty, and social exclusion, and global health and development. He earned a B.Sc. in health management from the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia, and a M.Sc. in health economics and policy from the University of Turin, Italy.

Erika Malich

Program: Think Tank Initiative
Twitter handle: @erikathinks
Project title: Research accessibility for policy influence in Peru
Country of focus: Peru

Presentation description:

Though it is understood that research can help to inform policymaking, many challenges still exist for research uptake. While the accessibility of research is important to understand in this process, it has not been properly problematized in the research-policy literature. This presentation will begin to unpack the idea of research accessibility for policy influence. A broad understanding of accessibility — including its physical, intellectual, and social dimensions — will help frame the perceptions of researchers and policymakers in Peru on research accessibility, highlighting opportunities for increased knowledge exchange in this context.


Erika holds a master’s degree in global governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo, and a bachelor’s degree in public affairs and policy management from Carleton University. Prior to joining the Think Tank Initiative, Erika conducted research in global health for the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and worked as a regulatory and compliance promotion officer for Environment Canada. She is particularly interested in the topics of international development, environmental conservation, public policy, and good governance.

Heather McIntosh

Program: Networked Economies
Twitter handle: @hmcin041
Project Title: Tracing networks of influence: Digital innovations in the crisis response to the 2015 Nepal earthquakes
Country of Focus: Nepal

Presentation description:

Digital innovations continue to emerge as pertinent tools in coordinating and distributing aid during disasters. With their potential to provide inexpensive and efficient communication solutions for citizens in need, their promise is particularly appealing in developing countries. Although the capacities needed for their use, access to tools and networks, and low literacy levels can cause barriers to citizens’ ability to request and obtain aid using digital innovations, past disasters demonstrate the inventive use of these tools by citizens to spontaneously mobilize during critical times. This study seeks to understand the role of digital innovations in crises, with a specific focus on if and how these tools enhance or hinder disaster response within the context of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.


Prior to the Research Award Recipient role she assumed in January 2016, Heather joined the Networked Economies team in March 2015 to help with communications and planning for the 3rd International Open Data Conference. Heather is a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa; her research is focused on the influence of communication technologies on organizational crisis response and management. She is also a part-time professor at Saint Paul University’s School of Social Communication and an editorial assistant for the Global Media Journal – Canadian Edition.

Rachel Kalbfleisch

Program: Employment and Growth
Twitter handle: @Rkalbfle
Project title: Growth aspirations of youth micro-entrepreneurs in Nairobi: A case study of the Jua Kali manufacturing sector
Country of focus: Kenya

Presentation description:

Entrepreneurship presents a potential solution to the youth unemployment crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, not only by creating employment for the entrepreneurs, but also for the workers they hire. In Kenya, many youth engage in entrepreneurship out of necessity, starting small informal businesses as a survival strategy. It is widely assumed that these necessity-driven entrepreneurs have minimal growth aspirations, which are an important driver of actual firm growth. However, little is actually known about the motivation and intentions of young business owners in Nairobi’s informal Jua Kali sector. This study sheds light on the factors that help to explain variation in growth aspirations among Kenya’s young micro-entrepreneurs, while testing the apparently predominant view that “necessity” entrepreneurs have lower growth intentions than those who engage in entrepreneurship by choice.


Rachel is a master’s candidate studying international development policy at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Prior to joining IDRC’s Employment and Growth Program, she worked as a junior policy analyst at Global Affairs Canada in the Office of the Chief Economist. Rachel also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. She is particularly interested in the development challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa, a passion that stems from her experience leading backpacking programs through Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda in 2011 as the East Africa Program Leader with Operation Groundswell.

Gussai Sheikheldin

Program: Foundations for Innovation
Twitter handle: @GussaiHS
Project title: Re-inviting innovation: Public technology intermediaries in Tanzania
Country of focus: Tanzania

Presentation description:

Public Technology Intermediaries (PTIs) are an important part of Tanzania's story of national efforts in technological development since the 1970s. Similar to their counterparts in other countries, PTIs are semi-independent organizations established by the state, which remains the owner or main shareholder (also known as parastatals). Using their own structures and procedures, the purpose of PTIs is to play an intermediary role between research and development, industries, and markets according to the national agenda. Tanzania is witnessing a period of significant economic growth, and while the industrial/manufacturing sector is lagging behind, national policy is en route to boosting science, technology, and innovation, and promoting industrialization with a "business unusual" approach. To open their spaces to “re-invite innovation”, PTIs need to update regulatory and financial modalities that are a historical legacy of the country's era of command economy before the 1990s. This research explores the challenges and opportunities of revamping PTIs to improve their integral support for Tanzania's development plans.


Gussai conducts interdisciplinary research on the dynamics of technology and policy in contexts of sustainable development. Focused on low- and middle-income countries, his research profile covers technological change and the role of institutional agents of development in Africa, such as polytechnic research and development establishments, emerging renewable energy ventures, and innovative industries. Gussai is a doctoral candidate with the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph. He holds a master's of engineering and public policy from McMaster University and a bachelor of engineering technology from Minnesota State University.

Andréanne Martel

Program: Policy and Evaluation
Twitter handle: @AndreanneMartel
Project title: How might we integrate a complex issue and a scaling strategy? The case of including gender along the pathway to scale
Country of focus: India

Presentation description:

Despite rising interest in the scaling process among practitioners, researchers, and funders in the global development sector, few studies have addressed the issues and challenges of bringing research results to scale through a gender lens. What scaling up strategies or approaches work for different categories of men, women, and youth? What is the impact of these approaches on women and girls? What are the gender barriers throughout the scaling process? What strategies can enhance women’s inclusion as scaling happens? How do we achieve sustainable and scalable impact while addressing gender equality? This study uses in-depth analysis from multiple case studies that focus on two IDRC-funded research projects conducted in India in the last five years (both related to access to justice and sexual violence). Both projects were gender-aware and aimed to challenge norms, practices, or policies by using gender transformative or accommodative strategies. This study aims to address an essential question: how do we embed complex but valued issues, such as gender, into a scaling strategy? This presentation will draw on theoretical feminist research to interrogate gender equality approaches, schemes, and discourses observed in research funding agencies and development organizations.


Andréanne holds a master’s degree in political science from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Prior to joining IDRC, she was responsible for the coordination of an international cooperation research centre at UQAM. Andréanne coordinated an international network on natural resources (REINVENTERRA) which brings researchers from academic institutions and actors from civil society organizations (CSOs) together from three regions (West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America). Since 2010, she has also evaluated post-earthquake projects implemented in Haiti by NGOs and international organizations.