IDRC’s principal approach is to support applied research projects and related activities designed and proposed by developing-country institutions and by Canadian institutions in collaboration with one or more partners from developing countries. The researchers and innovators whom IDRC supports mainly include those working in universities, governments, research institutions and nongovernmental organizations.
IDRC supports applied research in four broad areas:
a) Environment and Natural Resource Management (ENRM)
Research support focuses on the sustainable use and management of natural resources, stressing the involvement of local communities. The general objective is to improve the governance of common pool resources to reduce vulnerability, enhance assets, and legitimize the rights of all to essential natural resources. Moreover, there are objectives specific to different research initiatives under ENRM as follows:
• Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health (Ecohealth): aims to understand the social and ecological context of human health and well-being and build a community of practice in this field;
• Rural Poverty and Environment (RPE): aims to strengthen institutions, policies, and practices that enhance the food, water, and income security of the rural poor; and adapt to climate changes;
• Urban Poverty and Environment (UPE): aims to reduce environmental burdens on the urban poor and enhance the use of natural resources for food, water, and income security.
b) Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D)
Current research focuses on ensuring that developing countries benefit from and contribute to the information economy, notably by:
• Ensuring sustainable access to ICTs to overcome barriers that hinder social and economic development;
• Understanding the role of women and of the private sector in the information economy;
• Promoting the adoption of pro-poor ICT policies through support to applied research;
• Helping telecentre networks around the world increase their capacity and reach to promote digital inclusion.
In the MENA region, ICT research programs of note are:
• Acacia Initiative, that aims to support research on ICTs that improve livelihood opportunities, enhance social service delivery, and empower citizens while building the capacity of African researchers and research networks.
• Connectivity Africa, that aims to improve access to ICTs in Africa, including North Africa.
c) Social and Economic Policy (SEP)
The SEP program area supports research to inform key areas of public policy related to poverty reduction, equitable development, and human rights. SEP includes four research initiatives, each with a specific focus as follows:
• Governance, Equity, and Health to strengthen health systems;
• Globalization, Growth, and Poverty to foster inclusive economic growth and develop effective policies;
• Peace, Conflict, and Development to overcome conflict and promote lasting peace;
• Women’s Rights and Citizenship to advance women’s rights, entitlements and political participation.
d) Innovation, Policy and Science (IPS)
Launched in 2005, the IPS program is the focal point of IDRC’s policy, partnership, and programming on the science and technology and development agenda. It seeks to:
• Support science, technology, and innovation programs and policies;
• Strengthen linkages between institutions in developing countries and Canada and foster North-South research networks;
• Connect science and technology to competitiveness and social development;
• Improve governance and foster public policies associated with new technologies, such as biotechnology and nanotechnology;
• Support national science and technology reviews in developing countries.
The Special Initiatives Division (SID) administers several programs, including the Canadian Partnerships Program that supports Canadian academic entities and NGOs, the Centre Training and Awards Program that supports academic study and offers researchers in the South opportunities for hands-on experience; and the Middle East Unit.
Under the Middle East Unit, IDRC manages three special initiatives in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Foreign Affairs Canada:
• The Expert and Advisory Services Fund supports research and capacity building of Middle Eastern parties on finding and implementing sustainable solutions to refugee issues;
• The Middle East Good Governance Fund, a regional fund that aims to increase and disseminate policy-relevant knowledge to promote good governance in the region.
• The Scholarship Fund for Palestinian Refugee Women in Lebanon supports women completing their education so as to increase their qualifications and improve employment prospects.
IDRC also supports two regional projects in MENA along with other partners — the Regional Water Demand Initiative and the Knowledge Access in Rural Interconnected Areas Network, as well as one country-specific project, the Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises Policy Development project.
The Regional Water Demand Initiative (WaDImena)
WaDImena is a five-year project (2004-2009) coordinated by IDRC in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). WaDImena contributes to effective water governance by enhancing water use efficiency, equity, and sustainability within the MENA region.
Knowledge Access in Rural Interconnected Areas Network (KariaNet)
Karianet is regional ICT4D project in MENA that is co-funded by IDRC and IFAD. The project’s main objective is to enhance networking among rural and agricultural development projects and to improve knowledge sharing and information exchange between them through the use of ICTs.
The Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises Policy Development Project (SMEPoL)
“Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Policy Project” SMEPoL). It is a multi-year partnership between the Egyptian Ministry of Finance, CIDA, and IDRC that aims to support the transition toward a market economy by assisting the Government of Egypt to improve the policy environment for micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) development. By developing policies and legislation to improve the MSME business climate, it seeks to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Finance.