To improve the impact of what we spend on development we need to have good evidence of what works, so that we use the most effective tools for reducing poverty and its effects. Testing new ways of doing things and identifying methods that no longer work are essential, and depend on evidence generated by research.
Good evidence is based on well designed and rigorous research. DFID has a strong commitment to commissioning world class research and ensuring that the resulting evidence is available and useful to practitioners and policy makers worldwide.
DFID funds a range of programmes to achieve this, including organisations that investigate new technologies; test the impact of different approaches to development; examine the economic effects of development work; and synthesise and communicate research to different audiences.
Our own research portal Research for Development contains over 5,000 project outputs across all our research themes in the form of peer-reviewed articles, summaries, reports, papers, and case studies.
Some examples of the results of DFID-funded research evidence in the last year include:• Poverty reduction through the development of a crucial livestock vaccine for East Coast Fever, which could save the lives of over one million cattle and the livelihoods of many African farmers.
• Greater efficiencies by showing that monthly tests to check for adverse effects of HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy in Africa can be reduced in frequency without putting patients at risk. Fewer tests mean substantial savings, thus enabling a third more people with HIV to receive treatment for the same money.
• Identifying potentially good ideas which do not work by proving that Vitamin A does not prevent women dying in pregnancy. This means that funds can be provided for solutions which really do work.
• Improving policies on governance and corruption through examining taxation – discovering that effective taxation improves the government/taxpayer relationship and promotes growth as well as raising revenue.
DFID's Research Strategy was designed following an open process of consultation with more than a thousand respondents around the world. It concentrates on human development (health and education), agriculture, climate change and environment, governance and fragile states, and economic growth to lift people out of poverty.
DFID's drive to ensure that research and evidence are at the heart of policy making within DFID and beyond was boosted in 2009 by the creation of a Research and Evidence Division (RED) and its co-location with the Policy Division. We recently appointed fourteen eminent Senior Research Fellows to help ensure that we remain at the forefront of development research thinking.
DFID is fortunate to work closely with many partners from the public and private sectors who share the vision of evidence based policy and practice. These include many of the world’s leading universities in southern and northern countries, the UK Research Councils, other UK Government Departments and major multilateral agencies. Our recent publication DFID Research 2009–2010 describes the projects that DFID currently funds, with case studies and features of our key findings and lasting impact.
Chris WhittyChief Scientific AdviserDirector, Research & Evidence
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The role of research is to provide evidence that can shape development policies and programmes – not just ours, but across the world.
DFID Research Strategy 2008-2013
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