Since 2018 we have worked with Research England to provide support for academics, researchers and professional service staff in developing cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.

GCRF Emergency Response Fund


These projects are funded through the GCRF Emergency Response Fund (ERF). The GCRF ERF supports research/collaboration responding to immediate, short-term needs in DAC-list countries (especially those stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic) and existing GCRF projects that require additional financial support due to unforeseen challenges arising from COVID-19. More information about the scheme and the ongoing call can be viewed here, and projects funded via the GCRF ERF are listed below.

EBM+ for more effective COVID-19 interventions

Jon Williamson, SECL

This project seeks to improve the public health response to COVID-19 in developing countries by applying EBM+, which is a novel evidence evaluation methodology. The aims of the pilot project are to develop new collaborations in South Africa and Papua New Guinea and to develop initial guidance that can be worked into concrete public health guidelines in a future larger project.

Benefiting countries: South Africa and Papua New Guinea.


Informal Work and Public Health in Colombia: Targeted Regulation during the Covid-19 Global Emergency

Dr Luis Eslava, KLS, and Professor Donatella Alessandrini, KLS

This project involves compiling the first comprehensive database on the volume and characteristics of informal work in Columbia, using existing yet disaggregated sources of information. The database, and the policy briefings resulting from the analysis – on the size, diversity and localisation of informal work; the vulnerability of informal workers in sectors not covered by current isolation measures; and their localisation in Covid-19 hotspots – will inform national/local government’s responses to Covid-19, with potential benefits in slowing the spread of disease and saving lives.

Benefiting country: Columbia.


Utilising social media and online platforms to address the care and health needs of older people during the COVID19 pandemic in Egypt

Prof Shereen Hussein, PSSRU

The activity aims to capitalise on the use of smart phones and apps to provide a timely and unique platform for information, advice and service dedicated to ensuring the health and wellbeing of the elderly during the COVID19 pandemic in Egypt.

Benefiting country: Egypt.


Bangladesh as a model DAC-list country to evaluate reemergence and transmission dynamics events of SARSCoV-2 (COVID-19)

Dr Anastasios Tsaousis, Biosciences, and Dr Jeremy Rossman, Biosciences

This study will provide critical missing information underpinning transmission dynamics of COVID-19 that can be used to prevent re-introduction of the virus to human populations and provide preparedness guidelines for this and future pandemics.

Benefiting countries: Bangladesh, as well as Myanmar, Nepal, Laos, Thailand and India.


Estimating the value of political connections for firm outcomes during a crisis

Prof Irma Clots-Figueras, Economics, and Dr Amrit Amirapu, Economics

This project seeks to analyse Indian central and state government policies aimed at providing relief to firms, workers and/or households during Covid-19. The project’s main goals:

  • To determine which particular policies are most effective for promoting the survival of firms and jobs by exploiting the variation in relief measures adopted across states and industries along with their take-up among firms.
  • To estimate the value of firms’ political connections by determining whether having donated to a winning political party increases a firm’s likelihood of surviving, receiving credit, receiving government assistance, and/or being able to retain jobs.

Benefiting country: India


Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Female Schooling and Early Marriage in Bangladesh

Dr Zaki Wahhaj, Economics

Bangladesh, India and Nepal have high female school dropout rates. While the recent trend has been towards increased school completion and decreased early marriage in all three countries, the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the trends because of school closures during national lockdowns, increased care responsibilities of adolescent girls at home, and the acute economic shocks experienced by their families.

The activity will involve telephone-based interviews with rural households in Bangladesh to assess how school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting female education and future prospects. The aim of the data collection is to enable local education authorities to formulate better policies and programmes aimed at female students retention when schools reopen.

Benefiting countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal


The effects of emergency government cash transfers on informal workers’ beliefs and behaviours in developing countries during the COVID pandemic

Dr Fernanda L Lopez de Leon, Economics and Dr Bansi Malde, Economics

This project will evaluate the impact of ‘Auxilio Emergencial’ on workers’ beliefs about the coronavirus and test whether and how cash transfers inhibit individuals from taking unnecessary risks and putting others at risk, and exploit quasiexperimental variations on aid eligibility to quantify the causal effects. The study will address these questions:

  • What are the impacts of receiving the time-limited cash transfer on individuals’ knowledge about the coronavirus, adherence to public health recommendations and labour market behaviour?
  • To what extent are these impacts hampered by the delays in receiving the cash transfer?
  • Which socio-economic groups benefit most from the cash transfer?

This project will provide useful inputs for Brazilian policy makers in deciding how and whether to extend the ‘Auxilio Emergencial’, and on whether changes are needed to its structure or targeting.

Benefiting countries: Brazil and other South American developing countries, such as Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay.


Tracing the Impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns on rural households in India

Dr Bansi Malde, Economics

India has implemented one of the most stringent lockdowns globally, resulting in an almost complete shutdown of its economy with four hours’ notice in late March 2020. Emerging data, primarily on urban areas, suggests large negative economic effects on households.

This project will involve conducting telephone surveys with rural households in Maharashtra, India to document the effects of the lockdown and its relaxation on adherence to public health guidance, household’s handling of finances (consumption, savings and human capital investments such as education and sanitation), wellbeing, perceptions on institutions and access to social protection schemes.

The fallout from one of the most stringent COVID-19 lockdowns has already been extremely severe, with sharp increases in unemployment (120 million Indians are estimated to be newly unemployed). Documenting the magnitude of losses, and effects on outcomes such as human capital investments, wellbeing and the reach of relief packages is key in identifying where policy intervention is needed, as well as informing policymakers, practitioners and NGOs in India about the extent to which announced relief measures are reaching the intended beneficiaries and if they are effective (or not).

Benefiting country: India.

GCRF Partnership Development Fund


These projects are funded through the GCRF Partnership Development Fund. The fund was set up to support activity following up on previous partnerships funded via GCRF QR; activities that require a last-minute, small pot of funding and demonstrate clear, quantifiable benefits to DAC-list countries; and new relationships and collaborative projects with DAC-list partners. More information about the scheme, and the original call, can be viewed here.

Faculty of Humanities

Faculty of Social Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash