When we began work in Sri Lanka in 1973, our initial focus was to improve farming practices. For example, a new rice cropping system that harnessed monsoon rains increased yields more than three-fold in four years. This innovation was widely adopted by farmers.

Urban agriculture has also been a priority. As part of a recent multi-country study, researchers encouraged planners and architects to incorporate urban agriculture into neighbourhood and housing design.

As well, several IDRC-funded efforts promoted greater awareness of the causes and impact of the civil war that has long hampered development in Sri Lanka.

Creative uses for digital technologies

Since disease outbreaks in animals represent 60–75% of all emerging infectious diseases, controlling disease in animals is an important way to reduce human exposure. Many low- and middle-income countries lack the resources to manage this important aspect of public health.

Thanks to our research, field veterinarians in Sri Lanka with limited resources now use mobile phone technology to monitor and track outbreaks of infectious diseases in animals. The system allows for a rapid response to emerging infections, and ultimately saves lives.

We also promoted community use of digital technologies through telecentres. Hundreds of telecentres in Sri Lanka now help connect rural communities to the Internet and promote greater equality among citizens. Researchers identified factors that affect community telecentres, such as physical location, caste differences within communities, and the influence of religious leaders.

More efficient tea production

With obsolete equipment in tea processing leading to waste, cost overruns, and environmental damage, our funding helped develop an easy-to-use technology to dry tea more efficiently. Tea dryers in 600 Sri Lankan and 4,000 Indian plantations now use this computer-based control system, which reduces waste and fuel consumption.

Total IDRC Support

146 activities worth CA$30 million since 1973

WORLD BANK/L.Nadaraja

Our support is helping

  • understand the spread of wildlife diseases to humans

  • reduce urban poverty, child poverty, conflict, inequality, and poor infrastructure services 

  • extend the post-harvest shelf life of fruit in South Asia to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods, who comprise nearly one-third of the population

  • explore how big data, or large datasets, can inform policies in urban transportation, infectious diseases, and socio-economic monitoring  

  • strengthen research institutions’ ability to conduct and share high-quality research

Projects