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Asia is undergoing rapid and historic change. Economic growth is unprecedented — but the benefits of that growth are unequally distributed within and between countries.

Although economic growth has reduced poverty in much of Asia, rural and minority populations still endure hardship. The region also suffers from environmental degradation, gender-based violence and an economy increasingly based on informal employment. In addition, while maternal mortality has declined in the region overall, it remains high in low- and middle-income countries.

These pressures strain the infrastructure and fray human relations, ultimately hampering the region’s development.

Research focus

While governments need innovative policies based on solid research, the capability to provide these policies varies from country to country.

To improve people’s lives in local communities, we support researchers who are seeking innovative solutions for Asia’s agricultural, environmental, technological, social and economic challenges. We also promote knowledge sharing so that the evidence generated by our research partners goes further and accomplishes more by influencing development policies and informing solutions.

We recognize that the impacts of climate change and persistent inequalities pose significant barriers to the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the region and globally. IDRC’s 10-year blueprint for action, Strategy 2030, reflects our ambition to respond to those two issues while focusing on climate-resilient food systems, global health, education and science, democratic and inclusive governance, and sustainable inclusive economy.

Through our strategic investments and knowledge sharing, we are helping local actors play a more effective role in solving regional challenges, and thus contribute to building a more sustainable and inclusive world.






























Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea








Sri Lanka








Viet Nam

Country Profile

Since 1974, we have supported researchers’ efforts to improve lives in Bangladesh. As local concerns evolve, so does our focus.

Information and communication technologies have been at the heart of many of our activities. In the late 1990s, IDRC-supported research provided low-cost Internet connectivity to schools and research institutions. This led to one of Asia’s first rural telecentres. Bangladeshi researchers also developed software — including an optical script recognizer and a dictionary — allowing non-English speakers to make full use of computers in the Bangla language.

Another example is a large-scale research project examining how people can best adapt to the effects of climate change in the Himalayas. Researchers are also exploring the links between climate change and migration from delta areas. Results inform government policy in this crucial area.

Strengthening labour markets

There is widespread preoccupation with concentrated employment in Bangladesh’s low-wage garment sector. In the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy, improving conditions in the garment sector assumed a place on the global agenda.

IDRC-supported researchers are examining labour market dynamics to find ways to improve workforce skill levels. Our research led the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics to implement a local-level, community-based system to measure poverty.

Supporting women’s advancement

Poverty, particularly as it affects women, remains a focus of IDRC-supported research in Bangladesh. Researchers look for ways to remove barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, and to women’s entrepreneurial success. Research is also ongoing into the relationship between poverty and child marriage.

Another area of focus is the difficult topic of immunity for perpetrators of sexual violence during times of war. Researchers aim to change social attitudes and find justice for women victims of such violence.

Total IDRC Support

173 activities worth CAD47.4 million since 1974

Bangladesh boat market.
WORLD BANK / S.Wallace

IDRC support is helping

  • provide a centre of excellence for high-quality, influential, and policy-relevant research
  • reduce transmission of the dengue virus 
  • improve rural-to-urban job transformation, especially for women
  • increase innovation in local think tanks
  • lower the rate of child marriages in poor urban settlements 

Country Profile

We were among the first donors to establish contacts in Cambodia in the early 1990s, as the country moved toward peace. Since then, we’ve supported its rebuilding efforts in the wake of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and decades of regional conflict.

Connecting the nation

Post-war Cambodia faced many challenges — among them, isolation. In 1998 an IDRC grant helped establish Cambodia’s first Internet service provider. We have since funded Cambodian research to develop programs and web content in Khmer, the national language. This enables Cambodians to use computers, access the Internet, and generate content.

Local research teams for the projects included the Institute of Technology, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, and the National Information Communications Technology Development Authority.

Community-managed resources

The unsustainable exploitation of primary resources, particularly forests and coastal areas, also pose a serious threat. We have long supported a community-based approach that actively involves local people in research, to help improve the sustainable use of resources.

For example, researchers and communities in the Ratanakiri province mapped traditional territories and resource demand, tested more efficient farming techniques, and acquired skills to manage the Yak Loam Lake ecotourism area. The research helped people improve their livelihoods, set limits on resource use, and secure land ownership.

In Koh Kong province, government officials and researchers collaborated to help community members agree on rules for coastal resource use and create a federation of communes to reduce conflict among communities. They planted mangrove trees, worked at halting illegal fishing, and adopted small-scale aquaculture to improve their incomes.

As a result of these and other successes, the Government of Cambodia has incorporated community participation into its laws. A national non-governmental organization called The Learning Institute, created with IDRC funding, further promotes community participation in sustainably managing natural resources through research and training.

Total IDRC Support

118 activities worth CAD32.7 million since 1994

Farmer harvesting crops in Cambodia.

Our support helps

  • build research capacity and a research culture in Cambodia
  • upgrade skills and improve working conditions for young, low-skilled workers — mainly women and ethnic minorities 
  • improve nutrient-rich food, where over one-third of deaths under age 5 relate to under-nutrition 
  • produce more fish — a traditional food rich in iron, vitamin A, protein, and essential fatty acids

Country Profile

Although economic growth and government strategies have reduced poverty in China, rural and minority populations still endure hardship. Our funding helps researchers find solutions — for economic growth, governance and justice issues, health concerns, and a changing climate.

As the country’s political influence in the world increases, we’ve supported the Chinese government’s interest in designing policies based on evidence and public input. For example, research on public participation in budgeting led a number of local governments to adopt more transparent and accountable budgetary processes.

Preventing HIV transmission

To reduce HIV transmission, IDRC-funded research is using mathematical modelling to influence local and national policies in China. This support helps prevent HIV-positive individuals in China from infecting others. The Ministry of Health and the Centre for Disease Control in China scaled up prevention treatments to reduce HIV transmission.

Research-generated mathematical modelling has also helped public health officials improve their evidence-based decision-making, to determine whether HIV infection rates are increasing or declining. Researchers developed models to better predict incident rates. Results pointed to higher annual HIV incidence than national estimates and led China’s Ministry of Health to re-evaluate their 2013 estimates.

Innovations in farming

Our research support over two decades has introduced innovative farming practices in China. For example, Canadian and Chinese researchers developed a mobile phone technology that supports applications to make valuable information, such as wholesale food prices, accessible to poor farmers. Researchers are also developing ways for farmers to adapt to water-related stresses, including drought and flooding.

Research throughout the previous decade has forged partnerships between state plant-breeders and farmers with knowledge of local corn and rice varieties. Together they have improved yields, incomes, and caloric intake in farming communities. Chinese authorities promoted these methods nation-wide.

Total IDRC Support

261 activities worth CAD54.3 million since 1981

Children reading books in a classroom in China.

IDRC support is helping

  • increase local researchers’ economic analysis and applied research abilities 
  • build skills and knowledge to communicate research results and contribute to public debate 
  • develop effective water resource management in the Asian Highlands in response to climate change 
  • maximize the benefits and mitigate the negative impacts of Chinese investment in Laos and Cambodia

Country Profile

India has experienced impressive economic growth over the last two decades. Yet the gap between the wealthy and the poor is widening. Our research support addresses this and many other challenges.

In India, as well as in other countries, economic issues are complicated by climate change. One project explores the links between climate change and migration from delta areas. It aims to inform government policy in this crucial area.

Reducing violence has also been an important priority. It is the focus of a new multi-funder initiative, Safe and Inclusive Cities, which addresses the safety of involuntarily displaced residents in the city of Cochin.

Women’s security

IDRC-supported research in India has also focused on women’s rights, security, and access to justice. In Punjab state, for example, research led to improved services for women victims of crime and better treatment of women in custody. We also help strengthen women’s ability to resist forced marriages, and help them access better economic and social conditions through an improved state-run daycare system.

Economic opportunities for Indian workers

India is a focus country for the multi-funder initiative Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women. This five-year program aims to generate new evidence for women’s economic empowerment and growth. In India, research will assess the effectiveness of the world’s largest government initiative — the Mahila Samakhya Programme — to empower women and improve their economic position.

Other IDRC employment-oriented research includes an initiative to help women entrepreneurs make a bigger contribution to the Indian economy. Our research funding supports enhanced labour standards to protect the lowest-level workers in the Indian economy, and ensure their enforcement. 

Improving food security

The Canadian International Food Security Research Fund, a joint initiative of IDRC and Global Affairs Canada, is addressing the economic damage and nutritional losses associated with high rates of food spoilage. The initiative works with communities and farmers to improve food processing and increase millet consumption. Its goal is to reduce under-nutrition in rural areas.

Improving food security has been a longstanding goal of our support in India. In the late 1990s, we funded rural telecentres — community centres offering access to the Internet, computers, and other technologies. Hundreds of thousands of villagers started using the telecentres to access fish and agricultural markets, and find other income-earning opportunities.

Total IDRC Support

646 activities worth CAD157.5 million since 1974

Girl cleaning solar panels in India.
DFID / A.Trayler-Smith

Our support is helping to:

  • enhance research quality at 43 public policy institutions in India
  • create jobs for marginalized workers by boosting entrepreneurship
  • adapt to the impacts of climate change in the Arkavathy sub-basin in southern India and the Darjeeling watershed in the northeast
  • improve health and livelihoods through increased millet production and technologies
  • determine whether mobile phones, small loans, and business training can strengthen women-owned microenterprises

Country Profile

Indonesia is an important site for our research support in several ways. It’s a young democracy with a large pluralist society, and its environment has global significance.

Information and communication technologies, in particular, are important tools for development in the world’s largest island group. Our support enabled one of Asia’s most prominent distance learning universities to replace correspondence courses with digital learning technologies.

As a result, the number of adult learners who completed their courses increased, along with satisfaction levels. With an additional IDRC grant, the university replaced lost learning materials and established an Internet access point for students in its tsunami-devastated campus in Banda Aceh.

Community forest management

We have long supported research on the sustainable use of forests in Indonesia. For example, we helped two areas adopt our “model forest” approach for the Berau and Margowitan forests, where the community helps manage it. Developed in Canada and promoted internationally, model forests involve community members, businesses, and local authorities in research and planning for sustainable use of forest resources.

Decentralization of responsibilities from national to local governments in the late 1990s created the opportunity to involve communities in managing large state-owned teak plantations on the island of Java. With our support, there’s now a joint community-government forest management model in three districts. This allows farmers to have better access to forest resources.

The cost of environmental damage

The Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia — funded by IDRC and nine other donors — has also had significant results in Indonesia. For example, it helped identify the causes, impacts, and costs of the vast forest fires that ravaged the country and region in 1997.

The results prompted the region’s environment ministers to pursue alternatives to burning as a land-clearing method. The government uses our co-sponsored report, “Climate Matters: Vulnerability Map of Southeast Asia,” which highlights the risks from climate change effects. It helps policymakers and donors decide on a course of action to meet environmental challenges.

Total IDRC Support

239 activities worth CAD39 million since 1972

Woman carrying a baby in Indonesia.
World Bank / C.Carnemark

Our support helps

  • reduce disease transmission risks from animals and birds to humans
  • strengthen ecohealth research and practice in Southeast Asia
  • reduce socio-economic and geographic disparities in health care delivery 
  • address impunity in post-conflict violence against women in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and Burma
  • improve the responsible use of antibiotics to reduce resistant infections in China, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam

Country Profile

We began funding research in Laos in the late 1980s. Following decades of conflict, the country faced widespread poverty, linguistic isolation, and the exodus of its most educated citizens.

Our support responded to these challenges. For example, community-led research on poverty enabled the government to target its poverty alleviation and development programs more effectively. We’ve also encouraged many communities to use natural resources more sustainably, and helped connect the country to the Internet.

Better research on forest and land use

With a rural population depending heavily on natural resources for its subsistence, Laos needed solutions to forest overexploitation and conflicting demands for land. From 1999 to 2007, we helped Canada’s York University and the National University of Laos collaborate to build local capabilities to generate solutions. The initiative developed research skills in writing, data collection and analysis, and offered small research grants.

As a result, local university researchers studied the effects of a new protected forest area on livelihoods in Savannakhet Province, and the Song River’s impact on health in two villages in Vientiane Province. The faculty’s teaching tools and methods also improved, as did the university’s administrative skills.

Breaking the country’s isolation

For over a decade, we supported the country’s leapfrog into the information age. In the mid-1990s, local staff at the Science, Technology and Environment Agency received training to launch the country’s first email service. In 2002, they extended full Internet connectivity and training to provincial governments and the National University of Laos. A joint initiative also created a telecentre in the northern city of Luang Prabang, which introduced Internet services to rural people.

Total IDRC Support

66 activities worth CAD10.4 million since 1987

Farmer harvesting crops in Laos.

Our support helps

  • Lao speakers access the Internet
  • migrant women protect their health
  • the Government of Laos improve trade negotiations
  • leaders develop sound transportation policies

Country Profile

Malaysia was one of the first Southeast Asian countries we supported in 1971. Over the following two decades, we funded more than 100 activities. They contributed to better policies, technologies, and research capacity in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, education, health, and science and technology.

Research results in the late 1980s shaped the Malaysian government’s national industrial strategy around science and technology. As Malaysia became an upper middle-income economy and the local government prioritized research in the 1990s, we scaled back our support. Our funding now bolsters Malaysian efforts to understand how the knowledge economy can benefit the poor. We also promote new technologies for local development.

Better livelihoods for homeworkers

We supported local research to document women’s access to information and communication technologies in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, and the strategies needed to support women’s use of these technologies in the home.

This research on women homeworkers and home-based entrepreneurs — who sell everything from telemarketing and editorial services to homemade crafts and cakes — raised the profile of women working at home and their need for recognition, training, and legal protection. The special needs of homeworkers with disabilities were also highlighted.

Global partnership for knowledge and development

Since 2001, Malaysia has been home to the Global Knowledge Partnership secretariat, supported by IDRC and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. This international network of public, private, and not-for-profit organizations promotes the innovative application of knowledge and technology to achieve development goals. It includes improving education and reducing poverty.

The network shares knowledge and builds partnerships through training, meetings, excellence awards, and project funding. Our most recent grant allowed the organization to assess its future directions.

Total IDRC Support

140 activities worth CAD24.2 million since 1971

Women scientists in Malaysia.
World Bank / N.Motlaq

Our support helps

  • poor rural residents get an education
  • small-scale entrepreneurs find venture capital
  • farmers safeguard their export markets
  • migrant workers gain better protections​

Country Profile

IDRC has funded research in Myanmar since the 1980s, with an initial focus on agricultural projects. As the country emerged from decades of economic and political isolation in 2011, IDRC-funded research helped gather evidence to nurture meaningful dialogue in the democratic transition.

Following the military’s February 2021 overthrow of Myanmar’s democratically elected government, support continues for evidence-based public policy to achieve gender equality within an inclusive democratic future.

Developing research capacities 

Decades of systematic underinvestment in research and higher education eroded Myanmar’s internal capacity to generate sound advice for public policy. Considering this gap, IDRC and Global Affairs Canada launched the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM) initiative in 2017. K4DM has helped strengthen local research and analytical capacity among university faculty and students, civil society leaders, think tank researchers and public officials. The initiative also nurtured a new generation of young actors to promote inclusion, gender equality, respect for diversity and prosperity for all in Myanmar. 

Promoting inclusive democracy 

Political developments in Myanmar underscore the need for greater inclusion in a polarized society. With renewed support from Global Affairs Canada and IDRC, the K4DM initiative was extended until 2025. This second phase of programming aims to protect gains in Myanmar’s civil society, with a particular focus on gender equality. IDRC-supported projects are also fostering active engagement across different actors in Myanmar and the diaspora. The objective is to enhance the number of voices that contribute to discussions about a more democratic future for Myanmar. 

Benefiting from digital connectivity 

After years of falling behind with information and communications technology, Myanmar made significant progress in digitally connecting with Asia and the rest of the world. Researchers developed applications to improve public services and entrepreneurship. In one initiative, a free mobile app called Green Way was developed with IDRC support to provide real-time help to farmers. As of 2019, there were more than 120,000 registered app users (20% of them women) in 327 of Myanmar’s 355 townships. Also, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, online tools helped innovations focused on remote capacity building and research dissemination to flourish. 

Total IDRC Support

79 activities worth CAD28.1 million since 1985

Workers gather after work outside a garment factory in Yangon, Myanmar.

Our support is helping

  • improve research capacity to bridge knowledge gaps on governance issues 
  • advance public policy to achieve gender equality 
  • strengthen climate-resilient food systems 
  • foster dialogue on democratic transition 

Country Profile

We’ve supported research in Nepal since 1972. As a result, local researchers have helped improve farmers’ livelihoods, enhance the quality of several crops, and control the spread of disease in Kathmandu.

In 1988, when the building of a dam flooded homes and farmland in Kulekhani, researchers from Nepal’s Agricultural Research Council introduced cage aquaculture to displaced farmers. Fish cage culture provided higher incomes than farming, and allowed families to invest in their children’s education, better housing, and stronger businesses.

Plant breeding research in the 1980s and 1990s led to more productive cereals, such as finger millet and barley. Other efforts have strengthened farmers’ ability to conserve the genetic diversity of their traditional crops. An improved rice variety — developed collaboratively by farmers and researchers — was introduced in July 2006.

A healthier environment in Kathmandu

For a decade, our research focus has supported Kathmandu’s environment and the health of its residents. Local researchers collaborate with residents and local authorities to reduce food- and water-borne diseases that spread from animals to humans.

The research led to the country’s first Animal Slaughtering and Meat Inspection Act. It also strengthened food and garbage disposal regulations, and improved delivery of basic services such as potable water and sanitation. Researchers involved marginalized groups, such as women street-sweepers, in building healthier neighbourhoods.

Farming in the Hindu-Kush Himalayas

Since 1992, we’ve supported the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, based in Nepal. Research teams investigated degradation in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, and contributed to their rehabilitation. The Centre also improved rural livelihoods. Research demonstrated, for example, the benefits of producing off-season vegetables and high-yielding crops, as well as fish farming.

Nepal’s mountain people are part of a 16-country effort to evaluate and share innovations in agricultural production, processing, and commercialization. Our collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development is building a network of evaluators linked by technology.

Total IDRC Support

199 activities worth CAD44 million since 1972

Farmers in Nepal harvesting crops.

Our support is helping

  • reduce vulnerability to Japanese encephalitis transmission in high-risk districts
  • improve sustainable terrace agriculture, where terrace walls comprise 20–50% of hillside surface areas 
  • increase small millet production across Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka to improve nutrition
  • strengthen high-quality, influential, and policy-relevant research 
  • manage climate change in the Himalayan region, where 210 million mountain people and 1.3 billion others depend on its water resources

Country Profile

Since 1977, we’ve supported Pakistani researchers’ efforts to improve health care, education, and farming practices. Research has also focused on peacebuilding and women’s experience of discrimination and violence.

We funded research to find lasting solutions to economic and environmental problems. For example, research in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas identified solutions to conserve soil and water — such as planting hybrid off-season corn — while increasing family incomes.

IDRC facilitated research to reduce poverty, including a community-based monitoring system to track the government’s effectiveness. Researchers also brought hope to Tehsil Balakot, a rural area devastated by the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Local organizations gained a better understanding of residents’ needs, and received training to help them rebuild or replace lost livelihoods.

Since the mid-2000s, IDRC research partners have introduced the Internet to hundreds of isolated northern villages, bringing online training opportunities, along with health and agricultural information.

Local-language computing

A widely celebrated effort to include poorer parts of Asia in the information age began in 2002, with a modest initiative to create digital fonts in Urdu, Pakistan’s national language. Given that English dominated computers and the Internet at that time, IDRC-supported research teams produced local language computer programs so Asians could read and publish content on the Internet in their own languages. Researchers at Pakistan’s National University for Computing and Emerging Sciences coordinated the 10-country program.

In another effort to narrow the digital divide, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan is measuring — and bridging — the gap between men and women, and girls and boys, in accessing computers in rural areas.

Environmental economics

For the past decade, we’ve helped build the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics. This network specializes in applied research that connects economic and environmental problems with solutions. Groundbreaking research in Pakistan includes a study showing how the recreational value of natural resources, such as parkland, can generate funds to preserve them.

Total IDRC Support

121 activities worth CAD42.1 million since 1977

Girls walking out of a school in Pakistan.
DFID / V.Francis

Our support helps

  • use e-health to increase people’s access to services and information
  • end early child marriages and forced marriages 
  • increase Pakistan’s ability to provide sound research that informs and influences policy
  • strengthen health system governance to improve reproductive health and women’s rights

Country Profile

We’ve supported research in the Philippines since 1972. Today, research by local universities, research institutes, and civil societies has resulted in significant improvements in agriculture, forest management, and community engagement.

Some IDRC grantees have had a global impact. For example, the International Rice Research Centre has helped improve the well-being of rice farmers and consumers across the developing regions of the world.

Fighting poverty with facts

Research teams developed a poverty monitoring system now used in 14 countries. Piloted in the Philippines in 1994, community-based poverty monitoring provides municipal and provincial planners with information to design effective anti-poverty programs. Now in use throughout the country, it’s a low-cost way to collect and analyze household data with the community’s active participation.

The monitoring system also helps governments and organizations develop policies and programs to meet the people’s most pressing needs. For example, a community-administered survey of the 400,000 residents of Pasay City, a congested part of Metro Manila, identified high school drop-out rates and youth unemployment as major problems. As a result, job fairs, training programs, savings schemes, and other policies were introduced to target youth.

Forests and people prosper

The Philippines’ once-lush forest cover has shrunk to about 18% of the country’s total land area. With IDRC support, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction promoted forestry management by local communities.  Researchers found ways to include local residents’ viewpoints in national-level discussions to help reform an overly complex forest management system. They promoted local people’s rights to manage, use, and sell forest resources.

As a result, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources used consultation information to draft new forestry guidelines. Working with communities, newly trained forestry officials help ease the pressure on remaining forests while allowing communities to use resources sustainably.

Total IDRC Support

318 activities worth CAD51.2 million since 1972

Farmer in the Philippines harvesting rice.

Our support helps

  • prevent and manage type 2 diabetes in rural communities
  • adapt to climate change in the region
  • understand and promote entrepreneurship in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia
  • highlight the links between digital information networks and economic growth, democratic reform, and increased educational opportunities 

Country Profile

When we began work in Sri Lanka in 1973, our initial focus was to improve farming practices. For example, a new rice cropping system that harnessed monsoon rains increased yields more than three-fold in four years. This innovation was widely adopted by farmers.

Urban agriculture has also been a priority. As part of a recent multi-country study, researchers encouraged planners and architects to incorporate urban agriculture into neighbourhood and housing design.

As well, several IDRC-funded efforts promoted greater awareness of the causes and impact of the civil war that has long hampered development in Sri Lanka.

Creative uses for digital technologies

Since disease outbreaks in animals represent 60–75% of all emerging infectious diseases, controlling disease in animals is an important way to reduce human exposure. Many low- and middle-income countries lack the resources to manage this important aspect of public health.

Thanks to our research, field veterinarians in Sri Lanka with limited resources now use mobile phone technology to monitor and track outbreaks of infectious diseases in animals. The system allows for a rapid response to emerging infections, and ultimately saves lives.

We also promoted community use of digital technologies through telecentres. Hundreds of telecentres in Sri Lanka now help connect rural communities to the Internet and promote greater equality among citizens. Researchers identified factors that affect community telecentres, such as physical location, caste differences within communities, and the influence of religious leaders.

More efficient tea production

With obsolete equipment in tea processing leading to waste, cost overruns, and environmental damage, our funding helped develop an easy-to-use technology to dry tea more efficiently. Tea dryers in 600 Sri Lankan and 4,000 Indian plantations now use this computer-based control system, which reduces waste and fuel consumption.

Total IDRC Support

174 activities worth CAD36.3 million since 1973

A woman tending to plants in Srilanka.
WORLD BANK / L.Nadaraja

Our support is helping

  • understand the spread of wildlife diseases to humans
  • reduce urban poverty, child poverty, conflict, inequality, and poor infrastructure services 
  • extend the post-harvest shelf life of fruit in South Asia to improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods, who comprise nearly one-third of the population
  • explore how big data, or large datasets, can inform policies in urban transportation, infectious diseases, and socio-economic monitoring  
  • strengthen research institutions’ ability to conduct and share high-quality research

Country Profile

IDRC support for research in Thailand began in 1971. It changed significantly as the country’s economy grew and Thailand became an upper-middle income country. We began to emphasize support for Thai institutions that can coordinate regional research.

One example is the forward-looking initiative on avian influenza, led by the Asian Partnership on Emerging Infectious Diseases Research — one of at least 30 research institutions in six countries. Research topics include the risks of bird flu transmission from migratory birds and the impact of control measures on small poultry producers.

Understanding a changing economy

We’ve also supported research on economics, with a particular emphasis on globalization’s impact on poverty and women’s work. In 1994, we helped create the Asian Development Research Forum, based at the Thailand Research Fund in Bangkok.

Scholars in this policy research network led groundbreaking studies on such topics as pensions, health care, migration, and women’s role in family care. They played a significant part in placing previously under-appreciated issues, such as aging and long-term care, on the regional policy agenda.

In 2003, one of their studies in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam provided new knowledge to stimulate rural employment. Research teams assessed how off-farm and non-farm activities, such as wood processing, are becoming essential to rural economies.

Aquaculture development

During the 1990s, we supported several phases of research on aquatic biodiversity. Researchers from Canada, China, Indonesia, and Thailand applied tools of modern biotechnology, such as DNA fingerprinting, to conserve genetic biodiversity and breed better fish.

In Thailand, researchers worked with fish farmers to identify aquaculture needs and breed a variety of barb better adapted to local environmental conditions. The new breed generated higher yields for fish farmers. Thai researchers also identified strategies to restock watersheds and preserve fish biodiversity. 

Total IDRC Support

318 activities worth CAD51.8 million since 1971

Farmer harvesting in Thailand.

IDRC support is helping

  • improve job equality for migrant women in border areas 
  • determine links between changing agricultural practices and human health
  • explore inland aquaculture and climate change adaptation strategies in northern Thailand
  • improve flood management planning to counteract climate change disasters, such as the 2011 flood with damages of US$46.5 billion

Country Profile

We began supporting research in Vietnam in the early 1990s, shortly after reforms launched the country’s transition to a market economy. As a generation of Vietnamese economists realized that their skills were ill-suited for the new market system, we responded with training in non-Marxist economic research.  Economic research on the poor Sustained support to economists laid the foundation for the Vietnam Economic Research Network. Supported by IDRC since its inception in 2002, members study international trade, competitiveness, employment, poverty, and inequality.

The Network quickly expanded to include researchers from across the country. Establishing strong, credible links to policymakers and development practitioners, their research findings inform trade policy and appear in the country’s Human Development Report. The Network helped prepare for Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2007.

Better use of resources

IDRC support has also fostered community involvement in research among key Vietnamese universities and science research institutions. Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry has become a leader in this approach. It has been working with communities in the Tam Giang Lagoon since the mid-1990s to help develop sustainable livelihoods, solve conflicts between aquaculturists and mobile fishers, reduce navigational hazards, and improve water quality. As a measure of its success, local fishery associations secured fishing management rights in 2009, a first in Vietnam.

Wired to learn

We were a key partner in establishing the country’s first connection to the Internet and first online education service. In 1994, a government service, Netnam, began offering Internet and e-mail. Netnam thrives to this day as a private company run by the original IDRC-supported team.

In the early 2000s, Vietnam’s Fisheries College No. 4 and Canada’s College of the North Atlantic created the country’s first Internet-based distance education service for rural learners. We continue to support online education through regional research to improve the quality of distance education.

Total IDRC Support

169 activities worth CAD42 million since 1991

Women sorting out goods in a market of Vietnam.

Our support helps

  • build ecohealth leadership in Southeast Asia
  • reduce food insecurity and chronic malnutrition  
  • produce complementary and therapeutic foods for 15,000 malnourished children
  • improve small-scale food processing among smallholder farmers and women subsistence farmers 
  • build labour market knowledge and analytical capacity among policymakers and key institutions
  • assist policymakers with research to support alcohol control laws in Vietnam, where 60% of domestic violence cases are linked to alcohol

Regional office

New Delhi, India

5th Floor, DLF Centre
Parliament Street
New Delhi 110001, India
Phone: (+91-11) 2331-9411

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