UKRI announces international development research programme awards

Damaged buildings after an earthquake in Kathmandu

UKRI has announced 141 new international development research projects today.

The global challenges being tackled by the projects include:

  • environmental disasters
  • education for children living through conflict
  • malnutrition.

The awards form UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Collective Programme. The programme brings together a wide range of researchers and experts from across the UK and developing countries to:

  • generate innovative solutions to intractable development issues
  • contribute to enabling healthier and safer lives, sustainable development and prosperity for all.

£147 million investment

The UKRI GCRF Collective Programme is an investment of £147 million across 18 funding opportunities. It is designed to enhance the overall impact across UKRI’s six strategic GCRF challenge portfolios in:

  • global health
  • education
  • sustainable cities
  • food systems
  • conflict
  • resilience.

Research across these is contributing to realising the ambitions of the UK government’s aid strategy and progressing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Celebrating international collaboration

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI’s International Champion, said:

UKRI is proud to announce this initiative celebrating the spirit of international collaboration in research and innovation. The pandemic has irrefutably demonstrated that we are part of a global community and must work together to tackle global crises.

This exciting programme brings together diverse expertise from across the globe, ensuring that the voices of those most impacted are empowered to drive sustainable solutions for those most in need.

Working in partnership with developing nations, the UK’s research and innovation system has a crucial role to play in finding innovative solutions to interlinked issues such as environmental disasters, extreme poverty and food security. These international development research projects announced today are essential to finding these solutions.

Funded research projects

Research projects across the programme include:

  • Improving preparedness and planning for the mountain hazard and risk chain in Nepal. This includes earthquakes and monsoon rainfall as well as complex social, political and economic transformations, all within a hazardous yet densely populated landscape
  • Creating sustainable energy systems across Latin America by generating inclusive knowledge and governance to address energy vulnerability and energy systems resilience
  • Reducing urban poverty in south Asia by working with community activists and policy makers to develop context-sensitive solutions to the problems poor communities encounter in accessing key infrastructural services
  • Addressing poor nutrition and designing a structure that supports children and their mothers eating foods that support their health and development in south east Asia
  • Exploring all aspects of plastic use, from the composition of plastics that are imported across Africa to the slum communities who make a livelihood from selling and cleaning discarded plastics. This enables an integrated circular economy that uses and reuses waste products to deliver economic benefits
  • Bringing together two existing projects, The REfugees in Africa ClusTer (REACT) project will inform health care provision for refugees across east Africa. Working with ministries of health and academic institutions across nine African countries, this GCRF Cluster project will combine the expertise of two existing GCRF projects to feed into policy decisions and ultimately improve health care provision for refugees across east Africa.

Improving population health

Edward Kataika, Director of Health Programmes, East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community, Tanzania, explains:

GCRF has helped to bring research closer to policymakers’ needs, around our common aim of improving population health. The GCRF Clusters, such as REACT, help to further this by finding synergies across existing projects and generating knowledge in new and important areas.

This new programme is part of the GCRF, a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK government in 2015, designed to stimulate research on the challenges faced by developing countries. GCRF forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment.

To find out more about how we’re strengthening global partnerships for sustainable development, read our publication on the GCRF Collective Programme (PDF, 3.8MB).

Further information

The 18 funding opportunities which make up the GCRF Collective Programme are:

Cities and sustainable infrastructure

  • GCRF (Re)thinking the Off-grid City: Human Infrastructure Interactions in the Context of Urban Crisis and Urban Change
  • GCRF Sustainable Energy and International Development Beyond Technology


  • GCRF Education as a Driver of Sustainable Development Network Plus
  • GCRF Education as a Driver of Sustainable Development
  • GCRF Early Child Education
  • GCRF Education in Conflict and Crisis

Food systems

  • GCRF Cultures, Behaviours and Histories of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition
  • GCRF A Combined Food Systems Approach to Developing Interventions to Address the Double Burden of Malnutrition

Global health

  • GCRF Health and Context

Resilience to environmental shocks and change

  • Multi-hazards and Systemic Risks
  • Equitable Resilience: Ensuring Resilience enhances the Sustainable Development Goals

Security protracted conflict, refugees and forced displacement

  • Development-based Approaches to Protracted Displacement
  • Preventing Conflict, Building Sustainable and Inclusive Peace
  • Protection in Contexts of Conflict and Displacement

Calls that cut across the portfolios

  • GCRF Challenge Clusters
  • GCRF Gender and Intersectionality Network Plus
  • GCRF Global Engagement Networks
  • GCRF Climate Change

Top image:  Earthquake risk in Kathmandu: research from the Collective Programme will support socially inclusive and physically resilient reconstruction.

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