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29th May, 2019

City academics awarded £100,000 to address challenges faced by developing countries

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The City 2019 Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) competition has awarded £100,000 in funding awarded to five research projects.

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund from the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.

The competition was organised by colleagues in the Research and Enterprise office.

The event to award the successful bids included speeches from Dr Liam Haydon, International Development Policy Manager at UK Research & Innovation and Dr Ana Antunes-Martins, Research Programme Manager at the London International Development Centre.

South Asia Network for Development and Displacement (SANDD)

Professor Saqib Jafarey, Dr Liza Schuster and Dr Alice Mesnard from the School of Arts and Social Sciences, were awarded £40,000 to develop the South Asia Network for Development and Displacement (SANDD), an interdisciplinary, stakeholder-based research network for displacement studies in the region.

The network is led by colleagues from academic institutions, NGOs, government agencies and community organisations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

They will work to expand the network, identify displacement affected communities and put together projects to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities, facilitate the recovery of those that are displaced or depleted and strengthen the response of hosting communities.

Midwifery-led units in low and middle-income countries

Professor Christine McCourt and Dr Susan Bradley from City’s School of Health Sciences were awarded £20,000 to explore the development, implementation and evaluation of midwifery-led units as a response to human resource and respectful care challenges.

This bid builds on recent network-development work with existing (Malawi, Brazil) and new (Sudan, India) partners in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The research focuses on the potential of midwifery-led units (MLUs) and services to address the complex, multifaceted problems of widespread disrespect and abuse during birth, lack of evidence-based practice and women’s reluctance to engage with facility-based birth. These hamper efforts to reduce maternal mortality and are exacerbated by the gendered low status and lack of recognition of midwives.

Building resilient communities to landslides

Dr Joana Fonseca, Senior Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering, was awarded £20,000 to take forward her project which aims to contribute to more resilient communities in landslide-prone areas.

Disasters related to natural hazards have caused more than 2.5 million fatalities since 1980, 95% of which were in developing countries. Landslides are one of the most common natural geo-hazards and pose a constant threat to human communities and infrastructure. More extreme climatic conditions will likely increase the incidence of landslides, challenging in particular vulnerable and hazard-prone communities.

The GCRF award will enable Dr Fonseca to bring together an interdisciplinary team crossing boundaries within social sciences, image-based geomechanics and numerical modelling to develop new understanding for prediction and mitigation of landslides in developing countries, particularly in Ukraine.

Building Vision: enhancing research capacity in India for eye health

The division of Optometry and Visual Science at City and LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a centre of eye care excellence in Hyderabad, India have recently established a strategic, multi-disciplinary eye care research and educational collaboration involving physicists, optometrists, vision scientists and orthoptists. Dr Ahalya Subramanian and colleagues from City were awarded £10,000 to continue to improve the collaboration between the two institutions.

How does international news coverage influence aid allocation for humanitarian crises?

Dr Melanie Bunce and colleagues from the Department of Journalism were awarded £10,000 to investigate the influence of news coverage on humanitarian policy makers. Specifically, the team will assess how, and under what circumstances, news coverage may prompt political elites to support emergency fundraising appeals.

At the end of 2018, the UN estimated that there was a $10 billion gap in the funding needed to supply adequate emergency aid to those in need. Understanding the factors that can prompt policy makers to raise and prioritise aid is of vital importance. The data will be specifically useful for NGOs and humanitarian practitioners that are trying to raise awareness of humanitarian issues, and prompt policy makers to act.

The event was a showcase of City’s achievements to date in GCRF and also designed to raise awareness and encourage cross-School and interdisciplinary research collaborations.

In total 14 applications were received, 12 of which were presented at the event, with five receiving funding. All of the applicants will receive continuous support from the Research and Enterprise team to help them to progress their GCRF research.

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