Abstracts

Opening comments from Heather Douglas,  Waterloo Chair in Science and Society: Opening Remarks SciDevWorld Douglas

Romain Murenzi’s, Executive Director of the World Academy of Science, keynote speech: RM_Waterloo_keynote_17Sept15 rev

Jatin Nathwani’s, Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy and Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy for Sustainable Energy, introductory panel talk: Nathwani Balsillie SIA Science for the Developing World Sept 17a 2015(1)

Elijah Bisung – Measuring what matters on a global scale

We live in a world faced by unprecedented change. In the face of such intense and rapid change, it is difficult to fathom how we might monitor related impacts on the wellbeing of population(s) affected. In the past, the world has typically relied upon measures of economic health or wellbeing such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As the world ends its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and embarks on a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, questions about where we as a global society should continue our investments in wellbeing and efforts to measure those outcomes are now up for debate. These questions are particularly poignant for those populations most vulnerable to change: low to middle income countries (LMICs). My presentation will review existing ‘beyond GDP’ measures of population wellbeing as a foundation for developing a truly global index of wellbeing (GLOWING) that can be used by LMICs to document change, and measure the impact of policy across space and over time. I will describe a nascent proof of concept in East Africa that is based on the innovative Canadian Index of Wellbeing.

Full presentation: Elijah_SDW_Sept17.

Lucie Edwards – Science for Policy, and Policy for Science: Science in the South

Scientists committed to working in the Global South face severe challenges in contributing to world class scientific research: straitened budgets, outdated facilities, heavy workloads, limited networks and sparse outlets for dissemination of research. Except for a handful of prosperous countries, in the North, and the BRICS in the South, Science receives little attention, and fewer resources from the state. Key scientific services of government, like weather monitoring, public health delivery, and agricultural extension, are in sad shape. Global research networks like the CGIAR, targeting the problems of the tropics, remain key investors but invest in applied research fields like agronomy rather than fundamental research. Drawing on extensive interviews with Southern scientists, this paper explores what could be done to strengthen scientific capacity in developing countries, at a time when many of our global problems, like climate change and decline in biodiversity, demand the highest quality data and analysis from research stations in the South. The paper also explores strategies to strengthen t he dialogue between Southern political leaders and their scientific cadres, to ensure that the highest quality scientific advice is integrated into national policy making.

Full presentation: Edwards Science in the South Sep 23

Denielle Elliott – KEMRI 6 and the politics of capacity and co-creation in research collaborations

In 2014, six Kenyan scientists won a landmark lawsuit when they sued the Kenyan Medical Research Institute, the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation for unlawful discrimination at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Program in Kilifi, Kenya (an Open Univeristy and Oxford University collaboration). This paper reflects on the case which exemplifies many of the tensions and challenges in carrying out North-South scientific research collaborations and offers key lessons for democratizing global science practices. In particular, this paper interrogates the assumptions embedded within the very notion of “capacity building” and the consequences of such a discourse in scientific collaborations.

Evan Fraser – When enough isn’t enough: Epistemic conflict over what is “food security”

The purpose of this talk is to explore how discourses around food security are different in the Global North versus the Global South. I will begin by reporting on a recently published paper that shows how food security is described in largely Western academic journals as a “crisis” linked with population growth, rising demand for food, and climate change. By contrast much more of the literature originating in Africa describes food security as a chronic problem linked to poverty, infrastructure, and human capacity. Using this contrast as a starting position, this talk will present four distinct perspectives on food security: a technological perspective based on the idea that technical innovation is needed to boost food production; an equity and distribution perspective based on the idea that there is currently enough food but that it is distributed badly; a local food sovereignty perspective that argues food security demands local food autonomy; and a market failure and policy perspective that highlights the hidden costs of food production and calls on policymakers to enact regulations to ensure these costs are reflected in market transactions. Disagreements between adherents to these four camps can bring food security policymaking to a standstill. To resolve this problem, more attention needs to be placed on the process of developing food security strategies so that interventions are designed with the input of farmers and consumers in relevant locations rather than simply being imposed by pre-supposed ideas about what constitutes food security. To illustrate how this process can unfold I will conclude my talk with two brief case studies, one from Nepal and one from Africa, where scientists worked in partnership with farmers and policymakers to solve pressing food security challenges.

Full presentation: Evan’s talk on food security perspectives(1)

Matt Harsh – Institutions, Collaborations and Constraints: Constructing Computer Science Capacity in Kenya and Uganda

Innovations fuelled by computer science (for example, mobile phones and geographic information systems) have transformed commerce and communication in sub-Saharan Africa, but rely on knowledge and technologies developed outside of Africa. Social studies of science, technology and innovation policy have shown how local social and cultural contexts shape knowledge production and technologies, and how local scientific and technological capacity is critical for economically impactful and socially relevant innovation. This presentation analyzes emergent developments in the construction of an African computer science (CS) capacity by examining the CS research communities in two key East African cities: Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala, Uganda. Based on results from over 75 semi-structured interviews with CS researchers working at public and private universities, and private research centers in Kenya and Uganda, the presentation argues that there is indeed a significant and fast-growing local computer science capacity in East Africa. Much of this has been driven by creative institutional re-configurations, including international and cross-sectoral collaborations. However, structural and institutional constraints – such as national policy and the relationship with the private sector – can hinder individual researchers as they strive to develop their own research priorities and careers. Nonetheless, the case of CS represents a unique case study in building a scientific discipline in 21st century Africa.

Full presentation: Harsh-SDW presentation

Götz Hoeppe – Who (all) can count? Notes on citizen science and social activism in Kerala, India

This contribution addresses certain ways in which citizens seek visibility by state institutions that legitimate their action by reference to science and its modes of representation. Drawing largely on studies in Euro-American contexts, anthropologists and sociologists have documented several cases in which members of patient organizations and environmentalist groups have successfully produced findings that counter or develop scientific work conducted by academic or state institutions. Considering the historically and socially situated character of making and interpreting representations, and drawing on fieldwork among fishers and social activists in Kerala (India), I shall explore some of the challenges posed by postcolonial settings.

Craig Janes – Pushing boundaries: Expanding approaches to health, science and resource development at home and abroad

Resource development projects (oil and gas drilling, large and small-scale mining) pose significant social, cultural, economic, environmental and health risks. These are particularly severe in those low and middle-income countries where the resource economy is often considered fundamental to financing development. Addressing such risks requires a complex, systems-approach. Yet, most research on such risks has been historically narrow, focusing on environmental pollution to the exclusion of social, cultural, and economic factors that are equally if not more important in terms of determining health outcomes. Partly this is due to the dominance of environmental health risk assessment models and the disciplinary narrowing that such models entail. The challenge for many low and middle-income countries is, as is the case in high-income countries, embracing multi-disciplinary, intersectoral systems approaches to resource governance, impact assessment, and effective population health interventions. In this presentation I discuss these challenges in the context of a decade of research work in the resource sector in Mongolia, a country heavily dependent on extractive industries for economic development, which is concurrently struggling to manage industry impacts. The Mongolia case illustrates several scientific challenges: bridging the older Soviet and western models of public health; grappling with concepts of interdisciplinarity; and puzzling over western debates regarding what constitutes “real science.”

Full presentation: Janes Science Dev World PPT Sept 2015

Jennifer Liu – What are collaborations for?

In this brief talk, I consider three points related to institutions and collaborations. I ask what science collaborations are for and whom they benefit, how our analyses might change if we consider middle-players, and what the role of bioethics is in such collaborations.

In the first, I explore some of the details of a US-Uganda collaboration detailed by Johanna Crane (2013) and the role therein of scientific standards and funding equity. How does this scientific institutional collaboration work and what is it for? In the second, I suggest that science collaborations are often framed generally in terms of North-South partnerships, but that we should attend also to actors, including institutions and countries, in the middle. Taiwan, where I work, has a long history of humanitarian action and international collaboration. What might considering ‘middle’ nodes in collaborative relationships add to our analyses of science collaborations more generally? Finally, drawing on work in East Asia, I discuss the role of bioethics in standardizing institutional collaborations as well as scientific practice more generally.

Isaac Luginaah – Empowering Women Through a Community-Based Probiotic Food Project in East Africa: Can We Get the Science Right?

Although stabilized, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has left a big scar in Sub-Saharan Africa with populations affected by issues related to food security, nutrition and access and utilization of health care. As result, additional efforts must be made to alleviate the impacts especially among vulnerable groups. In 2001, based on evidence on the health benefits of probiotics, an Expert Panel Report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) stated that efforts must be made to make probiotic products more widely available, especially for relief work and populations at high risk of morbidity and mortality. In response to the FAO/WHO call to action, the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in collaboration with the Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization (KWRO) and the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Tanzania have implemented a sustainable probiotic food-based development project entitled “Western Heads East”. This university/research institution/community partnership aims at empowering local women; improving the health of the children; improving quality of life for HIV/AIDS patients; increasing technical capacity at NIMR and KIVULINI, and providing Canadian students with an opportunity to gain experience in international health and global participation. The paper examines how this technology and knowledge exchange is used in this initiative to train women in a vulnerable setting on how to produce probiotic yoghurt – for better community health and nutrition, and to improve the social and economic condition of women in the context of HIV/AIDS.  The inherent challenges with this university/research institution/community partnership are discussed.

Full presentation: Luginaah U Waterloo September 21 2015

Gordon McBean – International Science Organizations and their Roles in Development

The Mission of the International Council for Science Mission is “to strengthen international science for the benefit of society”; and it is important that it be for all societies and there is need to focus on how to deliver the benefits in developing countries. Through its key priorities and associated activities: Science for Policy; Universality of Science; and International Research Collaboration the Council works with its regional offices, global programs and partners such as Global Change START International to enhance the capacity of the scientific communities around the globe. There are challenges in full participation, language, culture and funding. The new program Future Earth: Research for Global Sustainability will be discussed as one example. The Council has recently established a new policy to enhance the participation of early career scientists across its activities and it is important that this apply in the developing world.

Full presentation: McBean-Science-Development-Waterloo 2015

Carrie Mitchell – (Mis)communicating Climate Change? Why online adaptation databases may fail to catalyze adaptation action in the Global South

Over the last decade a plethora of action-oriented research projects has been conducted in developing countries, exploring how to effectively adapt to the anticipated impacts of climate change. Many intergovernmental agencies and development organizations have chosen to disseminate their research results via online databases. It is unclear, however, whether these databases are either used by their intended audiences or useful in terms of actual adaptation planning and implementation. A systematic review of online databases has found at least 64 databases and tools online related to climate change adaptation. Despite the abundance of databases, our analysis reveals that the existing body of online databases generally lack the structure and mechanics to identify, extract, and synthesize both effective and ineffective climate change adaptation practices, projects, programs, and policies. Even relatively basic information, such as identification of projects’ projected versus actual costs is absent, which are crucial decision-making criteria particularly in developing country contexts where resource constraints are significant. In this paper we evaluate these online tools with a focus on identifying features that potentially could contribute to knowledge mobilization and successful transfer of climate change adaptation projects and practices within a developing country context. We conclude the paper with recommendations for how to improve efforts to communicate climate change research, such as more nuanced needs assessments of potential users of databases. Ultimately we consider the ways that these mechanisms can feed into sustainable development path transitions and more effective responses to climate change.

Full presentation: mitchell_Sept172015

Gemma Oberth – Donor Agendas, Community Priorities and the Democracy of International HIV/AIDS Funding

Background: Each year, donors channel $7.6 billion into HIV programming in affected countries. With this funding often comes significant control over interventions at country level, though there is considerable skepticism about the value of donor-driven strategies. Locally conceived approaches are believed to be more effective, but it is not always clear that donors are responding accurately or appropriately to the priorities of communities. Methods: Concept notes submitted to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by eight African countries were systematically measured to determine their responsiveness to community priorities. National Civil Society Priorities Charters were used as a measure of community-identified needs. The inclusion of each community priority was assessed on a three-point scale, the total score indicating how responsive the Global Fund request was to civil society. Results: Malawi’s concept note was by far the most responsive to civil society priorities (87%) and Zambia’s was the least (38%). The remaining country scores are as follows: Kenya (76%), Tanzania (67%), Zanzibar (67%), Uganda (64%), Swaziland (50%) and Zimbabwe (40%). The concept notes were the most responsive to civil society priorities on key populations’ issues, and the least responsible on priorities related to voluntary medical male circumcision. Several factors help explain the variance in responsiveness among countries. Statistically significant relationships were found between the responsiveness of Global Fund concept notes and Afrobarometer indicators on democracy, participation and civic engagement. There was also a significant relationship found between the voice and accountability rankings from the World Governance Indicators. This makes a compelling case to show that civil society participation at the community level is linked to the democracy of aid, and the ability of civil society to hold government and funding partners accountable. Conclusions: Donor-funded programs incorporate community-identified priorities to varying degrees in African countries. Understanding the factors which hinder or enable community-led program development is critical for a more effective HIV response.

Full presentation: Oberth – Science in the Developing World [17 Sept 2015]

Ismat Shah and Thomas M. Powers – Nanotechnology – A path forward for the developing nations  

A major concern with technology in general, and nanotechnology in particular, is that it could exacerbate the divide between developed and developing nations. If the benefits of research do not flow beyond national and geographical borders of the sources of research funding, these benefits will not be globally available nor equitably distributed.  A consequence is that the technological divide becomes wider, and the dependence of the developing on the developed nations grows. Our current proposal is to rethink the strategy and policy of bringing nanotechnology products to market. Given that new nanoscale materials could become critical to saving lives and healing the environment in the developing world, we need to change the focus of lab-to-market strategies so that developing nations can become contributors to, rather than simply consumers of, emerging nanotechnologies. To illustrate the proposal above, we will discuss examples of nanotechnology research concerning energy and water.

Full presentation: Shah_Powers_Waterloo Talk 2015-2

Eric Torto – Value Chain Donor Intervention and Smallholder farmers: Promises and Pitfalls

Value chains interventions constitute one of the dominant policy packages deployed by international donors in the agricultural sector of developing countries, primarily to support smallholder farmers and or peasants. The aim of this presentation is to demonstrate the exclusionary, marginalization and contradictory dynamics of a donor led value chain. Hence, this presentation argues against the incorporation bias, depoliticized, and technocratic accounts of the mainstream literature. The presentations starts by examining the underlying assumptions of the value chain approach. This presentation draws on critical development studies and /or political economy perspectives to discuss the empirical non-linear processes involved in its articulation of IFAD funded value chain, i.e., Northern Rural Growth Project in Northern Ghana.

Full presentation: Torto SDW Slides

Ross Upshur – Epidemics, Ethics and Collective Forgetting

In this presentation, I will discuss issues related to global response to epidemics of infectious disease. I will discuss recurring themes arising from recent global pandemics such as SARS, Pandemic Influenza and Ebola Virus, link these to other historical epidemics and pose questions regarding our capacity to “learn lessons” from our experience with epidemic disease.

Full presentation: Upshur Waterloo epidemic presentation

Alan Whiteside – Health, Disease and Data: Through a glass, darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12)

This paper will track the HIV and AIDS epidemic through the numbers from its beginnings in 1981 to the present. It will show how, in the early years, the number of AIDS cases were critical and how this information was politicised in both the Western world and in Africa, but for different reasons. I will then go on to look at HIV data: with the advent of treatment these numbers have become very much more confusing and there is a real need for advocates epidemic to find new ways of presenting information to retain global attention. I will look at the politics, numbers and representation of some of the other global diseases in order to draw comparisons. My data will be taken from international databanks including the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation in Seattle. I will reflect on my extensive experience as an ‘academic advocate’ trying to use the best possible science.

Full presentation: Whiteside Science In The Developing World Presentationfinal

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One thought on “Abstracts

  1. Pingback: Open Science and Development: The Importance of Cross-Disciplinary Learning | OCSDNET

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