Posted by: lidcblog | March 5, 2014

How scientists can maximise the impact of their research

Researchers and communicators at the workshop in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Researchers and communicators at the workshop in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Researchers working for a university or research institute may assume that because their organisation employs professional communications staff, there is no need for them to communicate their research. However, research communication is far too important to be left to communicators alone.

Does this mean that we should close communications departments and let researchers speak out? Absolutely not. Neither of these extremes would help communicate science effectively. What is needed is researchers and professional communicators working together as one team to maximise the impact of research communications.

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Tea pluckers Uganda

Tea pluckers Uganda,

Every month LIDC and our partners 3ie (International Initiative for Impact Evaluation) organise a seminar under the theme of ‘What works in international development’. The seminar series focuses on methods in impact evaluation and doesn’t always stir controversy, but one evening in January the seminar resulted in a very heated discussion.

Prof. Christopher Cramer and Dr. Deborah Johnston from the Department of Development Studies and the Department of Economics at SOAS, University of London, presented findings from their 4-year DFID-funded project on the impact of Fairtrade certification on the economic situation of wage workers. Drawing on research done with their colleagues Carlos Oya and John Sender, they looked at Fairtrade-certified and non-Fairtrade certified coffee, tea and flower production in Ethiopia and Uganda.

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Women listening group

Photo credits: Lifeline Energy

World Radio Day is an opportunity to celebrate the enduring power of radio across the world, and this year will pay particular attention to the role that radio plays in promoting gender equality and empowering women.

In the run-up to World Radio Day, Gemma McNeil-Walsh of SOAS Radio spoke to Uzma Sulaiman of Lifeline Energy, an organization that works to increase radio listening access across Africa through the design and distribution of solar and wind-up media players and radios.

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Posted by: lidcblog | January 23, 2014

Agriculture and nutrition: you are what you sow

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Photo credits Photovoice

The world today faces a complex challenge – improving nutrition for all. Contrary to how malnutrition is often portrayed in western media, it is not a separate problem for the poor (undernutrition) and for the rich (overnutrition). Around the world, this double burden of food-related illness is very much a challenge for the poor, simply because nutritious foods tend to be more difficult obtain or more expensive.

So if we are concerned about development, poverty reduction and economic growth, we should be thinking about malnutrition in this broad sense, as well as the food and agricultural systems that influence what is available, affordable and consumed.

A range of specific agricultural interventions for better nutrition have been trialled, but it’s not yet clear how effective they are. In a recently published paper, the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health and the University of Aberdeen looked at 150 agriculture programmes, ranging from breeding staple crops with higher micronutrient levels, to encouraging home gardening and small animal and fish production in households and communities. They showed that, while these programmes were promising, the majority were not measuring nutritional outcomes effectively. For example, just producing more nutritious food does not mean it will be consumed by people suffering from malnutrition. Similarly, efforts to address unhealthy, energy-dense and nutrient-poor diets have had some promising results, but research is still limited and methods need improvement.

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Posted by: lidcblog | November 29, 2013

Finding answers to injecting drug use and HIV risk in Kenya

image001What does drug use in a Kenyan village, a Rwandan community court and a UK prison have in common? Theoretically, quite a lot.

In our work to identify the reasons why people start injecting drugs in Kenya we are exploring ideas from a range of disciplines and areas of research. Heroin use is increasing as a public health challenge in Kenya. There are many ways of using heroin, with injecting being the most dangerous, mainly because of the risk of HIV; smoking, chasing or snorting heroin aren’t so dangerous. Injecting drugs is a risk for HIV when two people share the same needle to inject heroin and so create the potential for blood with HIV to be exchanged. Injecting drug use is a major aspect of the global HIV epidemic, with 3 million people who inject drugs living with HIV.

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'Workign Elderly' photo competitionThe Photo Competition on the ‘Working Elderly’ in India has now closed.  In four weeks it became a people’s research project of nearly 3,000 pictures uploaded and over 34,000 votes that revealed the widespread and diverse nature of older people’s work.

The aim of the project was to uncover the range of activities older people do, encourage as many people as possible to see the pictures and to create a permanent online gallery of older people’s work from across India in order to expose a number of myths about old age dependency.

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Posted by: lidcblog | August 13, 2013

Capacity strengthening: a two-way street

SACIDS staff visit LIDC

SACIDS staff visit LIDC

In April as part of a long-established partnership between LIDC and the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS) I visited the town of Arusha, Tanzania, to deliver a training session on preparing successful research grant proposals.

SACIDS is one of the consortia funded by the Wellcome Trust’s African Institutions initiative, which aims to develop institutional capacity to support and conduct health-related research.  One aspect of my job at LIDC has been to coordinate academic and training support to SACIDS from LSHTM and RVC in their role as ’Northern’ partners to the consortium.

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Coal sorting Penny VSA National Photo Competition on the ‘Working Elderly’ in India, now a week old, over 900 pictures uploaded and over 8,000 votes, revealing the widespread and diverse nature of older people’s work.

It was inspired by our photo exhibition/essay “We too contribute” which told the story of our research into the older urban poor since 2007 and has been well-received in Chennai, London, Dublin and New Delhi.  The latter at the request of the Pension Parishad, a network of organisations campaigning for a universal pension in India.

We faced a dilemma.  The exhibition proved successful at raising awareness of older people’s work yet we couldn’t cover the scale and scope of their work across a country as big as India.  We were in danger of the research’s significance being pigeon-holed in the ‘what-happens-in-big-cities’ box.

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Posted by: lidcblog | May 20, 2013

Low carbon development: time to act now

Low Carbon Development Book CoverOur climate is rapidly changing around us. The global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere has recently hit the unprecedented level of 400 parts per million (ppm). Increasing CO2 levels, from anthropogenic activities such as fossil fuel combustion, land use changes and deforestation, result in climatic impacts such as rising temperatures, melting glaciers, sea-level rise and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as droughts and tropical storms. This gives way to dramatic changes which affect our global climate, the global environment as well as our lives and economies around the world. At the same time, a growing world population means that more people live in areas which are affected by climate change, such as by rising sea-levels.

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Posted by: lidcblog | February 13, 2013

World Radio Day 2013 – new perspectives on radio

Das_KofferradioWorld Radio Day is the 13th February, first proclaimed by UNESCO in 2011 to highlight the importance and promote innovation of the medium. Radio continues to play a unique role in human development communication thanks to its ubiquity, accessibility and low cost.

Radio broadcast signals reach 95% of the global population – more than any other medium- according to the International Telecommunication Union. In the poorest parts of the world where electricity is restricted and newer technologies are expensive, a battery-operated radio set provides information, education and entertainment.

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