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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP-SICA | Phase: KBBE.2010.1.2-03 | Award Amount: 4.94M | Year: 2011

EAU4Food seeks to address the need for new approaches to increase food production in irrigated areas in Africa, while ensuring healthy and resilient environments. Potential pitfalls of introducing innovations in local farming systems, like limited adoption by farmers and trade-off effects to other (environmental) systems are overcome by, respectively, i) utilizing a true transdisciplinary approach, which involves the active participation of all stakeholders in all relevant disciplines, and ii) by determining and respecting so called sustainable production thresholds. EAU4Food is executed in four irrigated areas in Africa, viz. Southern Africa (Mozambique and South-Africa), Tunisia, Mali and Ethiopia to fully benefit from the potential of cross distributing promising strategies and innovations. At each site, key indicators, risk factors, farm strategies and biophysical parameters are monitored for identification of current constraints to food production and to evaluate agro-ecological and socio-economic impacts of improved practices and/or innovations after implementation. Results of EAU4Food are distilled into tailor made support tables and guidelines for different user groups. These support tables and guidelines support decision making processes at local level by overseeing short-term and long-term effects of alternative practices and improved strategies. EAU4Food is expected to have significant positive impacts on agricultural production at farm level for many years to come, and on wider policy processes at national and trans-national levels. To enlarge and maintain the impact of EAU4Food, capacity building programmes are developed at different levels, going from farmer to farmer exchange up to exchange of scientific personnel. Moreover, further exploitation of the results of EAU4Food is supported via other mediums such as songs of success, documentaries, school programmes, policy briefs, fact-books and scientific publications and presentations.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 169.98K | Year: 2015

There is an increasing trend recently to allocate land in Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) for the production of crops that are ultimately used for non-food purposes such as bioenergy, fibre and other industrial processes. Such land conversions are often financed through direct foreign investment and are justified as an engine of economic growth. However this often happens in countries that are barely food self-sufficient raising concerns about impacts on food security. While it is well accepted that industrial crops (ICs) compete directly and indirectly for land with food production, it is not always straightforward to assess the overall impacts of this competition on food security. Superficially food security should decrease as agricultural land is converted to ICs. Yet a number of less obvious mechanisms may lead to improvements in food security, e.g. higher household incomes can improve access to food, while access to fertilizers/pesticides/irrigation/knowledge can improve agricultural yields. In fact there are many complex feedbacks between land use change due to IC production and local/national food security in SSA. However, we have a fragmented and incomplete knowledge of these interrelations in African contexts, with few comprehensive studies conducted so far. This interdisciplinary project aims to provide clear empirical evidence of how ICs compete for land with food crops in SSA, and the mechanisms through which this competition can affect food security, whether in a positive or a negative manner. We will undertake a combination of studies at multiple spatial scales using a variety of analytical tools to study past dynamics and explore future scenarios. Case countries include Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Swaziland. Our consortium consists of partners with complementary strengths in academic (UT), applied (RBGK, CSIR) and policy-driven research (UNU, ODI). This will allow the effective communication of our findings to different end-users involved in (or affected by) IC expansion including policy-makers, local communities, NGOs and the private sector.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 299.79K | Year: 2012

STREVA will bring together researchers from universities, research institutes and volcano observatories, to explore methods for reducing the negative consequences of volcanic activity on communities. We will work both with the communities facing volcanic threats, and with those responsible for monitoring, preparing for and responding to those threats. Our main partners are volcano monitoring agencies and observatories in Colombia, the Caribbean and Ecuador, and through them, disaster managers and disaster researchers throughout the region, as well as residents of communities at risk. We will use a number of techniques to build links between the project and the wider community, including workshops, running scenario exercises, and using social media to report our results. Our aim, by working collaboratively across different disciplines, is to develop and apply a risk assessment framework that will generate better plans to reduce the negative consequences of volcanic activity on people and assets. Volcanic risk is a complex problem, which we shall understand by investigating a number of volcanoes, at-risk communities, emergencies and policy responses across the region. These case studies will help us to identify common issues in volcanic disaster risk and ultimately develop regional risk assessment processes. These will be crucial for long-term planning to reduce exposure to volcanic hazards. The countries in which we will work are all middle income and face multiple volcanic threats, often in close proximity to large towns and cities. The main focus will be on six volcanic sites across the Lesser Antilles, Ecuador and Colombia. We will begin the project by reviewing the secondary literature on three well monitored and active volcanoes, to analyse what has already been done to understand and reduce risk to the surrounding population. Through in-depth empirical research in these volcanic areas we shall begin to develop, test and apply our new risk assessment framework and methods for application. We will then take these lessons and apply them to three high-risk volcanoes where monitoring and understanding is less advanced. STREVAs work will generate improvements in: (i) methods for forecasting the start of eruptions and changes in activity during eruption; (ii) prediction of areas at-risk (the footprint) from different volcanic hazards; (iii) understanding of the factors that make people and their assets more vulnerable to volcanic threats; (iv) understanding of institutional constraints and capacities and how to improve incentives for risk reduction By the end of the project, our new knowledge will help us to measure volcanic risk more accurately and monitor how that risk is changing. The practical results will be a strengthening in the capacity of stakeholders at different scales (staff in volcano observatories, local and national governments and NGOs) to produce risk assessments for high-risk volcanoes and use them to improve preparedness and response to volcanic emergencies and build resilience in the surrounding communities through long-term planning. In adopting this approach, STREVA will have real impacts in real places, and will significantly advance the fields of volcanic risk analysis and disaster risk reduction.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 70.91K | Year: 2015

Extending and sustaining access to safe and reliable water services remains central to improving the health and livelihoods of poor people, particularly women, in Africa. Here an estimated 350 million rural inhabitants still have no form of safe drinking water, and depend on poor quality unreliable sources for all their domestic needs. Improving access to water, and helping to achieve new international goals of universal access to safe water hinges on accelerated development of groundwater resources, usually through drilling boreholes and equipping them with handpumps. However, emphasis on new infrastructure has obscured a hidden crisis of failure, with >30% of new sources non-functional within 5-years and many more unreliable. This problem has remained stubbornly persistent over the last four decades, with little sign of sustained progress despite various interventions. Part of the reason for this continued failure is the lack of systematic investigations into the complex multifaceted reasons for failure and therefore the same mistakes are often repeated. The accumulated costs to governments, donors and above all rural people are enormous. Addressing the functionality crisis requires a step-change in understanding of what continues to go wrong. The complex issue must be approached from a truly interdisciplinary viewpoint: combining innovative natural sciences to assess the availability of local water resources and how this changes with seasons and climate; with detailed social science research of how local communities function and make decisions about managing their infrastructure; and understanding of how the engineered structures can degenerate. Underlying these reasons for source failure may be other contributory factors, such as government incentives, the role of the donor community, or long term changes in the demand for water. The overall aim of the project is to build a robust, multi-country evidence base on the causes of the unacceptably high rates of groundwater system and service failure and use this knowledge to deliver a step-change in future functionality. To achieve this aim, our research draws on a novel interdisciplinary approach using the latest thinking and techniques in both natural and social science and applies them to three African countries that have struggled for decades with service sustainability - Uganda, Ethiopia and Malawi. There are five main objectives:1.to provide a rigorous definition of functionality of water points which accounts for seasonality, quality and expectations of service; 2. to apply this new definition to Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi to get a more realistic picture of water point functionality and therefore water coverage figures; 3. to investigate in detail 50 water points in each country by taking apart the water points and pumps, testing the local groundwater conditions, examining the renewability of groundwater and exploring in detail the local water committee; 4. we will also build on this information to forecast future rural water supply coverage by modelling the impact on water points of various potential future pathways; and 5. finally we will use all this information to develop an approach for building resilience into future rural water supply programmes and helping people decide when it is worth rehabilitating failed sources. To carry out this ground breaking research we have brought together a consortium, led by the British Geological Survey, of leading interdisciplinary UK researchers at BGS, KCL, ODI and Cambridge with groundwater academics from three highly regarded African universities (Universities of Addis Ababa, Mekerere and Malawi), and WaterAid, a leading NGO on developing rural water supply services across Africa with a history of innovation. The research has the potential to have a major impact on the delivery of reliable clean water throughout Africa, and if the results can be taken up widely break the pattern of repeated failure.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 459.68K | Year: 2015

Getting to Zero extreme poverty involves ensuring that the policies, institutions and politics are right for the poorest people to escape poverty. As the reduction in the global number of people in poverty illustrates, there are widespread stories of success. We know much about how, and why, some households escape poverty and others do not. We know less, though, about what happens to those individuals and households after they escape poverty, and why some are able to stay on an upward trajectory well away from the poverty line, while others escape poverty only to be thrust back again into it after a few years or less. This research addresses the first two of the overarching call questions. The first is: what factors shape pathways into and out of poverty and peoples experience of these, and how can policy create sustained routes out of extreme poverty in ways that can be replicated and scaled up? The second: what political and institutional conditions are associated with effective poverty reduction and development, and what can domestic and external actors do to promote these conditions? In particular, this proposed research concentrates on achieving a better understanding of how escapes from extreme poverty and deprivation can be sustained over time, since this is a poorly understood aspect of poverty dynamics. It does so combining the analysis of quantitative data with a time dimension (panel surveys) with the collection of life histories and face-to-face interviews and groups discussions with policy makers and key informants at the local level. Combining these diverse methods, the research is able to: i) investigate the individual and household factors that, for different groups of the population, enable sustained escapes from extreme poverty and deprivation; ii) identify how these routes for sustained pathways out of poverty are influenced by the broader social, political and economic environment in which people live, in particular the institutions which they have access to and the types of relationships which they enjoy; iii) inform policy makers on the policies that can help individuals and households to escape poverty and remain out of it; iv) improve policy makers, researchers and NGOs capacity to design, implement and lobby for policies that enable people to escape poverty, help them stay on an upward trajectory out of poverty and prevent their impoverishment. The geographical focus of the research is on three East African countries (Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania) characterised by high poverty levels. These three countries have experienced significant political and institutional changes in the last decade which have led to varied outcomes in terms of policies. The research will compare the experience of these three countries in order to identify in each the successful policies and programmes and the political and institutional pre-conditions for their implementation, while also creating evidence of how these policies may be scaled-up and exported in other countries. The research is led by the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network (based at the Overseas Development Institute) in partnership with three East African research bodies (one in each of the countries involved) and sees the involvement of UK-based and African-based senior and junior researchers. Most of the research activities will be conducted in Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia: these include the collection of qualitative data on the field through life history interviews and groups meetings with policy makers, as well as activities for the dissemination of the findings of the project. Part of the data analysis and the writing up of the research findings will be done in UK, so as dissemination events targeted at the UK academic community and UK-based donors, NGOs, practitioners and policy makers.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 159.49K | Year: 2016

Poorly constructed buildings are often the largest cause of injury, trauma and death in the event of a natural disaster. Most families rebuild houses relying on their own resources, with little or no external support. They self-recover. An analysis of statistics shows that the impact of aid agencies on housing recovery rarely reaches more than 20% of affected families and is frequently in single figures (Parrack, 2014). Moreover, much of that support is in the form of temporary housing intended to last only a few years. Therefore, we know that 80%, or more, self-recover. The potential impact is huge: any one emergency can leave hundreds of thousands of families homeless, with women and girls disproportionately affected (Bradshaw, 2015). As things stand, these homes are too often rebuilt using the same pre-disaster bad practice that caused so much death, injury and economic damage in the first place. Currently, shelter professionals lack understanding of the recovery process and therefore of inherent opportunities for appropriate and effective support. Families choose when and how to rebuild based on little-understood circumstances. Empowering them in the exercise of informed choice is integral to assisting self-recovery. There are neither tools nor knowledge to effectively support this at scale. The challenge for the humanitarian community, as well as national and local organisations, is to support this inevitable process of self-recovery. While efforts are made to include Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) into many emergency and recovery shelter interventions, these activities are often very narrow in scope, frequently limited to the printing of simple guidance sheets. These have very little impact on resilience of self-built housing stock. We know that simply informing people about risk - poor engineering, construction, and hazard risk - does not result in changed behaviour (van Wijk 1995), or in better, safer homes and communities. We also know there are no universal solutions. Evidence from post-disaster needs-assessments shows that families rapidly rebuild their homes with little or no knowledge of safer building techniques or the environmental factors that may increase their vulnerability. However there is evidence that demand for technical assistance can be very high soon after a rapid onset disaster. Only 12% of respondents interviewed for a CARE Nepal survey were able to name any techniques for improving seismic performance of a house, but 60% listed building safety as a top concern. Currently, the international aid community lacks skills to adequately contextualise each unique situation, arrive rapidly and reliably at key technical messages and effectively transmit and promote those messages in a way that allows informed choice and ensures maximum acceptance by the affected population. Current post-disaster programmes do not systematically or effectively address the motivations (want), resources (can) and abilities (know-how) of beneficiaries in the process of self-recovery. Through the multidisciplinary research of scientists, engineers and humanitarian practitioners, this proposal addresses the needs of those who self-build. It specifically addresses two important gaps: - Technical best practice - what key construction and siting messages will make a substantial improvement to self-building in different contexts? - Changing current practice - getting the message across; what communication and promotion methods really work; learning from current technology transfer and public education approaches. References: Parrack, C; Flinn, B and Passey, M (2014): Open House International van Wijk, C; Murre, T (1995): UNICEF Bradshaw, S., Fordham, M., (2015): Elsevier


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 308.11K | Year: 2012

In the wake of the global financial crisis, many developed and developing country governments are prioritising stability at the individual financial institutions and systemic level by strengthening financial regulation. Even though the latter is important to make financial systems more robust, its contribution to inclusive growth might be insufficient, especially in poor countries. The proposed research project aims to explore how the financial system should be regulated and structured to achieve the twin goals of inclusive growth and financial stability, with a focus on African low-income countries.

The research will be structured in two phases. First, a survey of the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationships between domestic financial structures and financial regulation, domestic and external financial regulations, and their implications for inclusive growth and stability will be carried out. In the second phase, econometric analysis on trade-offs between growth and stability when tightening financial regulation will be conducted. This will be complemented by in-depth country case studies by senior African researchers and focused policy analysis. Close interaction between researchers and senior policy-makers will be a feature of the project.
A research ethics approval is not required to undertake this research.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 331.48K | Year: 2012

Between 2 and 2.5 million people have died in earthquakes since 1900, and approximately two-thirds of those deaths have occurred in the continental interiors, far from the plate boundaries. Over this time interval, advances in the scientific understanding of earthquakes have been translated into impressive resilience in regions where the hazard is well understood (eg California, Chile, and Japan). Here, resilience is defined as the ability of a community to resist, accommodate, or adapt to the effects of an earthquake, to maintain critical basic functions, and to recover after the event. Comparable advances have not, however, taken place in most parts of the continental interiors. Instead, many parts of the continental interiors, and particularly the Alpine-Himalayan belt, have seen a major increase in vulnerability to earthquakes in the last few decades, due to a wide range of social, economic, and governance issues. Increasing resilience to continental earthquakes and their related hazards is therfore an urgent scientific and societal priority. This goal requires a holistic view of earthquakes, and collaboration between physical scientists, social scientists, practitioners, and governments on a scale that has not yet been attempted. Our project knits together three groups with extensive and successful track records in (i) the science of earthquakes and related hazards [COMET+, the Dynamic Earth and Geohazards research group in the National Centre of Earth Observation, and the British Geological Survey Hazards Group] (ii) exploring the social science of resilience to emerging hazards and risks [Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, University of Durham, and associated researchers] and (iii) the use of research to promote evidence-based policy [Overseas Development Institute]. First, we shall establish a global partnership between researchers from six UK universities, two UK research centers, and representatives of a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations from countries across the Alpine-Himalayan belt. This partnership will be focused on communication and sharing of research needs and knowledge gaps, basic research findings and outputs, and new approaches for building resilience to earthquakes across the region. This partnership will carry out coupled physical- and social-science research in three case-study areas (China, central Asia, and the Himalayan front). Our understanding of earthquake occurrence across this large region is currently too poor to provide detailed estimates of likely earthquake probabilities and effects at the sub-national scales needed by communities - let alone to provide forecasts of earthquake occurrence. One component of the project involves research into the locations of active faults across the region, the rates at which they are currently deforming, and the ground shaking that they are likely to produce. This basic physical science research, which will also include the effects of secondary hazards such as landsliding, will provide baseline scenarios about the hazards in forms that are meaningful for, and usable by, the communities at risk. At the same time, we shall map and identify the societal factors that help or hinder the creation of resilience to those physical hazards. This holistic approach to resilience will include investigation of cultural practices and adaptations, economic considerations, social mechanisms, and the role that governance at all scales plays in determining how resilience communities are to earthquakes. The overall framework of this project, provided by the ODIs RAPID methodology, will allow us to draw upon the expertise of the partner organisations, and the research findings outlined above, to generate a set of evidence-based toolkits and policy recommendations that together will define the pathways by which resilience to earthquakes can best be increased, both in the case-study areas and across the entire partnership.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 160.78K | Year: 2016

Resilience building requires integrated approaches to disaster risk management (DRM) to identify overlaps and leverage political support for measures that improve early warning systems, encourage adaptations and improve recovery from a range of hazardous events within the context of sustainable development. As our climate changes, accelerating such integration is paramount to improve responses to intensifying and multiple shocks and risks. The need is even more acute for Small Island Developing States, where isolation, limited land availability, a complex range of environmental hazards and limited resource base further intensify their exposure to risk. In this proposal we suggest that all hazards approaches to building resilience are needed and test the thesis that these will be more effective if placed within the particular historical and cultural contexts through which land use patterns were established in individual SIDS, in order to assess how risk is created and disaster risk management responses evolve. We test this on two islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean by focussing particularly on exposure and physical vulnerability to multiple hazards, and analysing historical factors that have shaped tenure and governance processes in order to explore how these may have contributed to increased exposure of populations and physical vulnerability to hazards as well as detrimental political and cultural responses. We are particularly interested in the interactions between differing hazards and the implicit competing pressures on resources and tenure, both on- and offshore. We are taking an all-hazards approach to this analysis, to identify strategies and investments that can relieve these pressures and encourage long-term resilience to multiple land and marine-based hazards. We refer to these measures as DRM investments with co-benefits, meaning that one action, originally intended for a particular type of hazard, can be adapted and used to produce joint, multiple and/or simultaneous benefits in terms of reducing risk. We will identify measures that have the potential to reduce risk to multiple hazards through the development of future scenarios and an approach to modelling impacts that tests the benefits (in terms of loss avoidance) of different DRM investments. The two islands selected to trial this holistic approach are exposed to a range of environmental hazards, and have colonial and imperial histories and sets of institutions to address risk with some similarities but also differences. Drawing insights across these settings will allow us to better understand the potential for applying this approach to other SIDS around the world, including in the Indian Ocean. This research will also have implications for implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR), linking it more closely with resilience targets in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change Agreement by enhancing knowledge of the links between past and future hazard exposure and development, and identifying options for overcoming resource constraints in SIDS and building resilience to multiple shocks and stresses.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 243.91K | Year: 2016

The Ordos region has a population of about 80 million, of whom approximately half live within large cities, which have grown rapidly and recently around the nuclei of much smaller cities that are known to have been destroyed by earthquakes in the historical past. The remainder of the population is rural, and live in highly vulnerable buildings. The region has suffered three of the most deadly earthquakes in recorded history; the 1556 Huaxian earthquake was responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 people, and other historical earthquakes are known to have killed over 100,000 people. This project aims to make a significant improvement in the assessment of seismic hazard in the region, and is particularly timely because the study area covers the most populous part of the Chinese end of the Silk Road Economic Belt, a planned investment of hundreds of billions of dollars that will transform communications, transport and trade across Eurasia. This population is particularly vulnerable because there are two fundamental gaps in earthquake-risk reduction in Mainland China First, there is a gap between scientific understanding of the risks and hazards, and the knowledge that communities need in order to design effective practices of governance. The second gap is between the top-down and bottom-up approaches to the governance of disaster risk reduction (DRR). This project brings together teams from the China Earthquake Administration (CEA), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge to carry out research and practical action to bridge these gaps. Our work will be rooted in the two-thousand-year historical record of earthquakes in the region, which allows us to investigate a suite of methods for bridging these gaps. In this work, we shall collaborate closely with researchers, policymakers and operational agencies at local, provincial, national and international level, and shall work with them to integrate local (bottom-up) and national (top-down) approaches to earthquake DRR. We shall use tools of modern tectonic geology to estimate probable sizes of the historical earthquakes of the region. Then we shall calculate ground shaking if such an earthquake were to recur. We shall make loss estimates using both the CEAs database of vulnerability and that of the US Geological Surveys PAGER (Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response) project. These estimates will form the basis of engagement between the scientist and policy makers at the county scale and upwards, where legislation and practice are top-down. At the same time, working in partnership with local communities, village, town, and county officials, and staff of local NGOs, we shall explore the social roots of earthquake disaster risk by focussed studies on small sites within the region. We shall partner with Geohazards International (GHI) to produce a detailed scenario based on a historical earthquake. Such scenarios have been shown to stimulate communities to generate their own mitigation strategies for earthquake risk, and we shall use this technique as the basis for developing, testing, and evaluating participatory approaches to assessing earthquake vulnerability and risk from the bottom up in China. Finally, with the provincial and national partners we shall explore routes to link these with top-down laws regulations and procedures to establish improved, long-term, earthquake disaster risk reduction.

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