News article

This virtual event was a collaboration between UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) & the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

It brought together members of our COVID CIRCLE (UKCDR) & Covid Collective (IDS) researcher communities, along with other colleagues from across the research for development landscape.


On 27 June 2022, COVID CIRCLE and the Covid Collective  came together virtually to ask a vital question: How has COVID19 shaped the engagement of research with policy and practice in Low- and Middle-Income Countries? We were delighted to be joined by so many colleagues from the two research communities, as well as representatives from research funders and many others working in research for development. The webinar was co-chaired by Daniela Toale,  COVID CIRCLE Programme Manager at UKCDR, and Peter Taylor, Director of Research at IDS.

Peter and Daniela kicked off the event with reflections on the role that rapid funding schemes have played in the pandemic response and the value of collaboration beyond our disciplinary silos. Next, James Georgalakis, IDS’ Director of Communications and Impact, shared preliminary findings from an upcoming publication, ‘Pathways to impact and the pandemic: A rapid review of COVID-19 research engagement strategies in Low and Medium Income country settings’. The aim of this rapid review is to explore the different pathways to impact applied by research projects in three programmes:

  • The FCDO Covid Collective
  • The IDRC Covid Response for Equity 

We then heard from two researchers, one from each of our research communities, whose fascinating presentations highlighted the diversity of research disciplines impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, we split into smaller groups to reflect on the presentations and share our own experiences of how the pandemic has affected relationships between, on one hand, research and evidence and, on the other, policy and practice in LMIC settings.

Discussions were structured around four key questions: 

  • Who gets to participate in research engagement activities and why?
  • Which forms of knowledge are valued by practitioners, policy actors and communities and why?
  • Which channels, stakeholders and spaces are targeted?
  • In what ways has the pandemic shaped research engagement in LMIC contexts?

We recorded insights from three breakout sessions using interactive whiteboards, which will help inform the finalized Rapid Review.

The key takeaways from discussion groups were:

  • Relationships & flexibility are important in collaborative research programmes
  • We need to build in community and civil society engagement at the start of research projects
  • It is important for funders to work with established, trusted sources and local partners
  • Inclusivity and nimbleness are key to rapid responses during a pandemic

Our Chairs and presenters

Daniela Toale

Daniela is the programme manager for UKCDR’s COVID CIRCLE work. She joined UKCDR in September 2021 as a Research and Policy Officer on secondment from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). At UKCDR, she coordinates the COVID CIRCLE Researcher Community, convenes Funder forums and supports UKCDR’s work on equitable partnerships.

At UKRI, Daniela works within the International Development team overseeing several programmes funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Daniela has several years of experience working at research funders in the international development space and also has expertise in programme management, research, content management and publishing.

Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor is Director of Research at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Previously he was Director, Strategic Development, at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada where he was responsible for leading IDRC’s strategic planning processes.

Peter holds a PhD and MSc in agricultural education, and a BSc degree in animal sciences. He has research, teaching and writing interests in the theory and practice of organizational development and capacity strengthening, evaluation and learning, and facilitation of participatory and social change processes in a diverse range of international contexts.

Dr Maxine Caws

Dr Maxine Caws is based with Birat Nepal Medical Trust in Kathmandu, Nepal and is a senior researcher at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK. She is Principal Investigator of the Epidemic Intelligence and IMPACT TB consortium projects. She conducts research exploring aspects of infectious disease diagnosis, treatment, access to care, molecular epidemiology and drug resistance.

Andrea Ordóñez

Andrea Ordóñez is Director of Southern Voice and has been part of the initiative since inception in 2012. She leads the implementation of the network strategy and programmes. She co-edited the book “Southern Perspectives on the Post-2015 International Development Agenda” with Debapriya Bhattacharya.

Her work focuses on better fostering better knowledge systems to support sustainable development. Andrea has developed research projects for the public sector and numerous international organizations.


Projects and presentations

Presenter: Dr Maxime Caws

Epidemic Intelligence is a consortium project to conduct whole-genome sequencing of SARS CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, in Nepal. The project aims to improve understanding of the emergence and ongoing transmission of the virus in Nepal, including the prevalence and consequences of long COVID. The research team works with three clinical locations spanning Nepal: Bheri Hospital in Nepalgunj (Far West), Koshi Hospital, Biratnagar (Eastern Nepal), and Sukraraj Tropical Infectious Diseases Hospital in the capital city, Kathmandu (central region). Sequencing is being performed at the Centre for Molecular Dynamics Nepal, with technical support from the University of Cambridge, UK. Epidemic Intelligence is funded by the Wellcome Trust and FCDO.

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Presenter: Andrea Ordóñez

Covid Collective project: Leaving No One Behind in Digital Delivery of Public Services

The project generates evidence of how rapid digitalisation of public service delivery due to the pandemic has shaped the lives of those already living in exclusion, especially women. Southern Voice are collaborating with research teams in three countries – India, Peru, and Tanzania. It examines the extent to which digital policies and practices are increasing inequalities among women and limiting the fulfilment of their economic and social rights. The aim is to give those working on issues of digital access, at the country and global level, evidence on interventions and practical insights. These can be used for policy reform and global cooperation, ultimately reducing the gender technological divide. Learn more about Southern Voice’s work on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the global South from the website.

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A huge thanks to everyone who attended our event, our Chairs, and each of our presenters. We look forward to seeing you all at our next event.



    COVID-19 Research Coordination and Learning (COVID CIRCLE) is an initiative from the UK Collaborative for Development Research (UKCDR) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). Launched in April 2020, COVID CIRCLE helps research funders to build a coherent effort for COVID-19 research in, for, and with LMICs. To date, COVID CIRCLE has:

    • Aligned funders to a set of principles for effective funding in epidemics and pandemics;
    • Established a world-class tracker for funded COVID-19 research projects;
    • Produced quarterly Living Mapping Reviews analyzing current trends in COVID-19 research and funding;
    • Established a COVID CIRCLE Researcher Community;
    • Published a report capturing key learnings for COVID-19 research funders

    In addition to coordinating funding efforts and collating learnings to inform future epidemic and pandemic responses, COVID CIRCLE exists to connect networks of researchers. We are grateful to our friends at IDS for the opportunity to collaborate and bring together our two COVID-19 researcher communities.

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  • About the Covid Collective

    The Covid Collective research platform offers rapid social science research to inform decision-making on some of the most pressing development challenges related to COVID-19.

    The global COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis requiring rapid generation of policy-relevant evidence to inform decision-making as we move from crisis to recovery phase and beyond. The Covid Collective research platform brings together the expertise of global partner organisations, coordinated by the Institute of Development Studies.

    The research portfolio and work of the collective is funded by FCDO and coordinated by the Institute of Development Studies. An Advisory Group made up of representation from partner institutions to help guide the evolution of the Collective.

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