LIDC Report

2013 - 2015

Foreword by Prof. Jeff Waage, LIDC Director

In 2015, the international development agenda will move into a new phase with the agreement of a broad set of aspirational Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Academic institutions will be challenged to help with the design and evaluation of the many policies and interventions that will follow from this agreement, and to train a cadre of professionals with the skills necessary to address the different disciplinary challenges of this new agenda.

Few would argue that the SDGs, while more diverse than their MDG predecessors, remain a collection of sectoral interventions. As such, there is a risk that important links between these contributions to development will not be made, missing opportunities for improved, coordinated outcomes. The inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary development agenda that the London International Development Centre (LIDC) seeks to advance is never more needed than today.

In 2014 we completed our start-up funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and entered a new phase of activity, following an external review and development of a new business plan. Our transition from being grant-funded to being fully supported by our member Bloomsbury Colleges (hereafter referred to as the Colleges) was a milestone in LIDC's development, confirming the success of our inter-institutional model in generating clear benefits for both members and the international development agenda.

I am pleased to present this review of our activities from January 2013 to the end of the academic year 2015. It reflects both growth in existing programmes that link development research and training across sectors like education, health, agriculture and politics, as well as exciting new initiatives in areas like humanitarian assistance, NGO engagement and cross-college short courses.

I would highlight as well the developments in LIDC that are less easily quantified, that reflect the growing ownership and participation by our hundreds of academic and postgraduate student members. This aspect of LIDC is captured well in the new, first objective of our 2015-2020 Strategy to 'create opportunities and skills for interdisciplinary collaboration amongst academics and postgraduate students and in the broader global development community’.

I am confident that LIDC will continue to be a unique and valuable facilitator of an integrated approach to international development. The SDGs bring new opportunities for collaboration across our academic sectors and disciplines, new partnerships with development groups in London and internationally, and a new impetus for helping our diverse and dynamic student community to become tomorrow’s development professionals.

Foreword by Prof. Anne Mills, Chair of the Management Group

I have had the pleasure of chairing the LIDC Management Group for the past four years. Over this period it is very clear that LIDC has consolidated and expanded its role as a key player in the field of international development.

The past two years have seen a great deal of change, not least as they marked the end of grant funding for the organisation. As external funding ended, our Bloomsbury Colleges were unanimous in their decision to continue funding LIDC, reflecting the high esteem in which it is held and the value of its activities. The small secretariat, under the stewardship of Director Jeff Waage, has been responsible for a wealth of activities including regular seminars, keynote lectures, conferences, and courses, in addition to the research facilitation role that academic members value. New initiatives highlighted in this report include the LIDC seed fund programme, short courses and biennial conference, which extend LIDC's interdisciplinary, intersectoral and cross-College collaboration amongst LIDC’s academic and student members.

I am convinced LIDC will emerge from 2016 with even more innovative activities to share. I hope you enjoy reading about our work and will join us at one of our future events.

LIDC's vision is a world made more equitable and secure through reduction in poverty and more sustainable use of resources and evidence-based decision-making.

LIDC is to address global development challenges by facilitating cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration

LIDC was founded by the Bloomsbury Colleges: SOAS, UCL-Institute of Education, Birkbeck, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Royal Veterinary College.

In its particular areas of expertise, each Bloomsbury College has considerable experience in research and training in international development. However, as specialist organisations, the Colleges understood that their contribution would be more effective if they were better engaged with relevant development expertise in other areas. 

Therefore, they pooled their resources to create LIDC - a facilitative, collaborative environment to generate novel, cross-College initiatives in development and to support improvements in development policy.

Supporting International Development in our Colleges 

LIDC's first objective is to provide interdisciplinary opportunities and skills for our academic and postgraduate student members in the area of international development. Supporting our growing membership is central to this.

From January 2013 to the end of the academic year 2015 years we have had nearly 600 new members sign up to LIDC membership directly. We have modified our membership database to make it easier for our members to use and have integrated this with our development newsletters, which now go out to 3,500 people each month – with weekly or daily news briefings as an optional extra. A growing number of non-LIDC members also take our newsletter.

Multimedia is a growing part of our communications strategy to members, and with that in mind we have produced seven podcasts in our Development Matters series in collaboration with SOAS Radio. Most of our events are now recorded for watching afterwards along with video interviews available online. In the past year, we have strengthened our social media platforms, doubling the amount of 'likes' on our Facebook page and steadily increased our Twitter profile to reach our target audiences.

LIDC’s website continues to be a key resource for members and the development community generally – about half of the visitors to the website come from within London, and the other half globally, with visitors landing from over 200 countries and territories. The LIDC blog, with contributions from researchers across our colleges, was incorporated into our website in 2015. LIDC is using external sources to reach new audiences with, for instance, articles published in The Lancet, Devex, Guardian, and other institution’s websites and blogs.

Events and Networking

LIDC events have been an extremely strong channel through which we communicate with our membership. Altogether, 3200 free tickets have been issued for a wide range of events, including ongoing series and one-off lectures. Our priority has been to facilitate interdisciplinary working, and to create networking opportunities for members from across departments at the different specialist Colleges.

For students in our Colleges, LIDC has developed a diverse programme of popular networking events, careers evenings and lectures. We see this as a way of adding value to their education, as well as fulfilling our objective to foster an understanding of development issues and develop new skills amongst post-graduate members.

For example we ran a Careers in International Development Research Panel and also have participated in the careers fairs of the member Colleges, giving people an opportunity to see what roles are available in global development.

To showcase the work that the LIDC academic working groups have been developing, a major biennial conference was held in spring 2013 and then again in spring 2015. Both reflected on what had been achieved, and also projected forward into the future, each with a theme of interdisciplinarity.

In addition, we have continued our programme of monthly internships at LIDC, which since 2013 has given over 24 students an opportunity to build skills and credentials for careers in communications and international development.


-3ie-LIDC Seminar Series (16)

- DTC seminar series

-LIDC Autumn Networking Events

-Making Agriculture Work for Nutrition

-Academics and NGOs International -Development Open Mic Night

-LIDC Inaugural Lecture on Interdisciplinarity and International Development

-Careers in International Development Research Panel

-Impact of tertiary education on development - launch and reception

-LIDC Summer Networking Event 2014

-LIDC Academics-NGOs Networking Event 'Sustainable Development Goals - An opportunity for new collaborations?'

- LIDC Academics-NGOs Open Mic Night 'Designing Development Projects'

- Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in health and education

- LIDC Biennial Conference: Interdisciplinary Research for Development

- Symposium: Gender Violence, Poverty and Young People

- Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development – book launch

- Malcolm Potts - Crisis in the Sahel: Where Population and Climate Change Are Colliding


The membership database has been overhauled so that people can automatically sign up to LIDC and be added to our mailing list. This means that it is also integrated with our newsletters, which go out to 3,500 people each month – with weekly or daily news briefings as an optional extra. From January 2013 to the end of the academic year 2015 years we have had nearly 600 new members sign up to LIDC membership directly, and more interested external people have chosen to receive the newsletters only.

Support to Research

Besides convening and supporting intercollegiate working groups (see below), LIDC also established in 2013 an Interdisciplinary Seed Fund to help researchers in different colleges explore new interdisciplinary or inter-sectoral ideas. Grants of up to £6,000 per project are provided for data collection, workshops, research assistance or other activities that help to develop new research proposals or publications. So far, nine projects have been funded in a range of areas (see box).

Seed Fund awardees (previously known as the LIDC Fellowship)

Seed Fund awardees in 2015

1) Development of a research proposal on zoonotic transmission of antimicrobial resistant bacteria Mishal Khan (LSHTM) & Ana Mateus (RVC)

2) Towards the development of an interdisciplinary research programme investigating the impacts of changing food systems on nutrition and health outcomes Barbara Haesler (RVC), Rosemary Green (LSHTM), Suneetha Kadiyala (LSHTM), Bhavani Shankar(SOAS) & Karen Lock (LSHTM)

3) Livestock production and zoonotic risk: Estimating the prevalence of porcine cysticercosis among swine in Cambodia Ana Mateus, (RVC) & James Rudge, (LSHTM)

LIDC Fellowships in 2014/15:

1) An exploration of educational and health response to the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan and Turkey Dr. Tejendra Pherali, (UCL-IOE) Dr. Karl Blanchet (LSHTM)

2) Pit Latrines and the Urban Metabolism (PLUM) Prof. Peter Mollinga (SOAS), Dr. Jeroen Ensink (LSHTM)

3) A systematic review of the impact of social protection on food and nutrition security Dr. Helen Walls (LSHTM/LCIRAH), Dr. Deborah Johnston (SOAS)

LIDC Fellowships in 2012/13:

1) 'Development of assessment tools for impact evaluation of malaria control on early cognitive development and educational outcomes for children in Mali and Senegal, Sub-Saharan Africa' Dr. Yvonne Griffiths (UCL-IOE) & Dr. Sian Clarke (LSHTM)

2) ‘Mapping the social context of transitions to injecting drug use and HIV risk in Kenya’ Dr. Andy Guise, (LSHTM), Dr. Phil Clark (SOAS) & Dr. Paul Turnbull (Birkbeck)

3) ‘Does land use change influence macaque behaviour and interactions with humans: implications for infectious disease transmission’ Dr. Kimberly Fornace (LSHTM), Dr. Julian Drewe (RVC) & Dr. Martha Betson (RVC)

Support to College Programmes

LIDC was established to facilitate intercollegiate collaborations in international development. Besides those collaborations that we generate ourselves, we support existing initiatives, such as the Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) by organising an annual seminar series for the international development pathway of PhD study. The series explores development concepts and issues from the perspective of different sectors, bringing in speakers from across our colleges. LIDC has also provided support to the Bloomsbury Research Committee to organise the annual symposium for the Bloomsbury PhD Scholarships Scheme.

Besides supporting other cross-College initiatives, LIDC has responded to a growing demand to help Colleges with their individual international development efforts. We have done this largely through organising and hosting international workshops, for instance a Birkbeck-led workshop on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in health and education, and a UCL IOE-led symposium on Gender Violence, Poverty and Young People, both in 2015.

Research and Training Activities

LIDC Evaluation for Development Programmes Short Course

LIDC has continued to develop new research and training activities across colleges through consultation with its membership of over 500 academics. Aided by a strategy group of senior academics from each College, the LIDC secretariat identifies areas of interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral interest in colleges that correspond to current issues in international development.

Ideas for collaboration are developed through informal meetings and exploratory workshops. Where there is sufficient interest in research or teaching projects in a particular area, the secretariat establishes a working group and organises meetings several times per year.

Working group members are informed of external and internal funding opportunities for research projects and studentships, and the secretariat helps them to put together proposals, drawing on its experience with inter-disciplinary project design and international development sponsors.

All successful research proposals facilitated by LIDC are awarded to a particular College, which then subcontracts project work to other partner Colleges. Occasionally, the LIDC secretariat will be asked by partner Colleges to assist with the management of grants. In the past few years, teaching initiatives have also become an important output of LIDC working groups. For new intercollegiate degree programmes facilitated by LIDC, one College usually takes the lead, but for cross-College short courses in international development, LIDC now provides the coordination.

Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases are diseases of humans which have their origin in wild and domestic animal species, and include avian and swine flus, SARS and Ebola. New zoonotic problems are constantly emerging, particularly in low and middle income countries where the diversity of animal hosts and pathogens is high, and contact between animals and humans particular close. Understanding and preventing these diseases requires a collaboration between human and animal health specialists in a range of disciplines, an approach often called One Health.

Research in this area has proven particularly fruitful for LIDC, and particularly its members, LSHTM and RVC. Since 2008, under a grant from the Wellcome Trust, LIDC has facilitated their partnership with the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS) to develop research capacity in One Health across medical and veterinary faculties of ten universities in southern Africa.

To date, 72 MScs in One Health epidemiology and molecular biology, ten PhDs and ten postdoctoral scientists have been trained in these institutions, with assistance and co-supervision from RVC and LSHTM academics. Participating African institutions have been equipped with basic molecular biology facilities to undertake routine disease diagnosis and the lead partner, Sokoine University, Tanzania has established a genome sequencing facility.

This research collaboration with LIDC colleges has been extended until 2017, and augmented in 2013 by further funding from Rockefeller Foundation, the Canadian International Development Research Centre and Wellcome Trust.

Recent work has included research on changing animal and zoonotic disease risks in livestock-keeping communities as they move from pastoralist to more sedentary lifestyles, developing One Health communication and public engagement, and studies on the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in both humans and livestock systems and the possible links between these processes.

The autumn of 2013 saw the launch of the new RVC-LSHTM MSc in One Health, the development of which had been facilitated by LIDC. It has continued into a second year, with good numbers and an interesting mix of medical, veterinary and other backgrounds.

An important additional educational output of LIDC's collaboration with SACIDS has been the development of intercollegiate dialogue on research capacity strengthening, bringing together experiences from member Colleges in how best to support postgraduate students, early-career scientists and research services in rapidly growing African universities and institutes.

A research programme on zoonoses and emerging livestock systems was launched by DFID and the UK Research Councils in 2013 and LIDC working group members submitted six intercollegiate project bids, two of which were successful and awarded in 2014 for projects on brucellosis in West Africa and avian influenza in Bangladesh.

Agriculture and Health

In 2010, LIDC facilitated the award of a £3.5m grant from the Leverhulme Trust, its biggest ever, to establish a new research area of agri-health as a unifying approach and methodology for understanding the relationships between agricultural production, food systems and population health, and the factors which drive. Since then, social and natural scientists from a range of disicplines in its three partner colleges, SOAS, LSHTM and RVC have been implementing a collaborative, interdisciplinary programme of research, PhD training and teaching focused on the question 'How do we achieve sustainable food and agriculture systems which promote health and well being for all people?'.

The original funding for the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) continues until 2017, but in the past two years, LCIRAH members have built on its foundations a large portfolio of additional research and training programmes and a research team of 15 academic researchers and 20 PhD students and postdocs.

LCIRAH hosts a highly regarded annual international conference on agriculture, nutrition and health.

Through LCIRAH, four long-term academic appointments have been made in SOAS, RVC and LSHTM, embedding this this new and growing research area in and across LIDC member colleges. Different, new intercollegiate projects in agri-health are led by LSHTM, RVC and SOAS, with partners from leading research institutions in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

They include:

Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA), funded by a five year, £7.2m grant from DFID from 2014, accelerates the development of research tools for designing and evaluating new programmes to improve the contribution of agriculture and food systems to nutrition, through competitive research grants and fellowships programmes and a new global research network. This network, the international Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy is a partnership between LCIRAH and CGIAR's research programme for Agriculture and Health (A4NH) and has a particular focus on building research capacity in low and middle income countries.

Improving Nutrition Outcomes Through Optimised Agricultural Investments (ATONU), funded by a five year $18m grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Pretoria-based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), will involve LCIRAH in providing expertise in the design and evaluation of agri-health interventions to projects in four African countries that will build these interventions into major agricultural investment programmes.

Sustaining Health is a new programme of the Wellcome Trust which supports research projects which connect environment, nutrition and health towards achieving positive outcomes in a context of growing stress on planetary resources. LCIRAH partners have won three of its ten projects: 'Palm Oil: Sustainability, Health and Economics’ (2014); ‘Health and environmental implications of low-carbon, climate-change resilient diets in India’ (2014); and ‘Future Diets and Health’ (2015).

Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA), funded by a six year, £6m grant from DFID to the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in India involves LCIRAH in leadership of research on agri-food value chains and pro-nutrition agricultural interventions and specific research on agriculture for improved nutrition in Afghanistan.

Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning (IFSTAL), a funded by a 3 year, £2.59m grant from HEFCE to Oxford University from 2015, is a five-university programme to enhance postgraduate training in food systems research that will involve MSc and other courses at RVC, LSTHM and SOAS in partnerships with complementary courses at Oxford, Reading, Warwick and City Universities.

Besides these major programmes, LCIRAH partners were awarded project funding through UK Research Councils and the CGIAR in to work with the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya on disease risk and nutrition in animal food value chains, and from Irish Aid to develop and online training module in agriculture for improved nutrition, which was launched in 2014.

In 2013, DFID asked LIDC to host the Secretariat to the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, a group of twelve highly influential international leaders formed to provide effective guidance to decision-makers, particularly governments on nutrition-enhancing agricultural and food policy and investment in low and middle income countries. Researchers and students in LCIRAH partner colleges have contributed to the development of policy briefs and other materials in support of the Global Panel’s mission.

Impact Evaluation

Impact evaluation is a growing area of international development research. LIDC's colleges undertake a diversity of research projects addressing different approaches to impact evaluation in different development sectors, and the LIDC Working Group on Impact Evaluation creates a platform for sharing methods and approaches and creating new joint initiatives. LIDC continues to host a growing office of the International Initiative on Impact Evaluation (3ie), whose staff are employed by LSHTM and undertake and fund reviews of evidence for the impact of international development programmes. LIDC and 3ie run a continuing monthly seminar series on "What Works in Development" which covers key issues and new results on development impact evaluation and attracts large audiences from the academia, civil society and academia.

In 2013, LIDC facilitated an invited tender from DFID for a Centre of Excellence in Impact Evaluation, bringing together researchers from LSHTM, IOE, UCL and the Institute of Fiscal Studies. DFID has not yet established a centre, but the exercise facilitated new links and collaboration for LIDC members. LIDC has also been coordinating a partnerships between LSHTM, IOE, SOAS and Oxford Policy Management for a new round of awards in 2015 under the DFID Global Evaluation Framework (GEFA).

In response to requests from its working group, LIDC has led the development of a new intercollegiate joint short course in impact evaluation and bring together partners from LSHTM, UCL-IOE, SOAS and 3ie (see box). The first course was launched and delivered in autumn 2014 and it attracted 66 applications from Africa, the USA and throughout Europe and 25 places were offered.

Evaluation Short Course

With growing interest in evaluating the impact of development activities, there has been a demand for training in impact evaluation from policy makers, development professionals and researchers, particularly to build capacity in lower and middle income countries.

Individual LIDC partner Colleges had training modules in evaluation in the sectors they specialised in embedded in their Master's degrees; LSHTM in public health; UCL-IOE in public policy and practice and SOAS in environmental, agricultural and rural. As most impact evaluation training is provided by economists in economic departments, not by sectoral development specialists, there was an interest from the colleges to develop a training course for sectoral researchers and policy makers/development professionals, including the capacity to train across different approaches to impact evaluation and systematic reviews, and across different sectors, specifically health, education, environment and agriculture/rural development.

In partnership with the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), which has particular interest in building evaluation capacity in lower and middle income countries, LIDC helped colleges to develop a one week short course in impact evaluation and lunched the first training course in autumn 2014. The course comprises core elements on impact evaluation and systematic reviews, supplemented by specialist training appropriate to specific sectors and was delivered by representatives from 3ie and colleges.

Education for Development 

LIDC partner Colleges have a strong interest in postgraduate training of professionals from overseas, in strengthening national research institutions and, particularly in IOE, in pedagogical aspects of higher education in low and middle income countries. Following a commissioned study and conference on measuring the impact of HE interventions in development, a cross-College working group was established. In 2013 it served as an expert group to advise a rigorous review of evidence of HE impact undertaken by IOE for DFID. 

This study, launched at IOE in 2014, contributed to the development of a new HE research programme in DFID, to which the working group has contributed. Through this activity, academics from IOE and LSHTM are now providing research leadership and operations support to DFID's programme on 'Managing Effective Education Systems’ launched in 2014. Interest across partner Colleges in education in early years and the factors which influence it in low income settings led LIDC to convene a workshop in July 2014 on child development. This brought together researchers working on the effect of disease, nutrition, education and disability on the cognitive development and early education of children and concluded that there was a need for a more joined-up approach on developing appropriate methods for measuring the impacts of development interventions in these areas on child development. 

A working group was established in 2014, comprising academics from LSHTM, Birkbeck, IOE and UCL, with expertise ranging from brain imaging to education to economics. An initial success of this new working group has been the award in 2015 of a project to researchers in LSHTM and IOE from World Bank, following seed funding from LIDC to generate preliminary data. The project is to measure the impact on health, cognitive, and socio-emotional outcomes of home fortification with micronutrient powders (MNP) and ECCD Centres and parenting education aimed at children ages 0-2 in Mali. 

Humanitarian Crises 

Following an intercollegiate workshop in 2014, LIDC established a new working group on humanitarian crises with researchers from Birkbeck, IOE, LSHTM and SOAS who were enthusiastic about the potential intercollegiate collaboration. The group, which includes NGO’s interested in research on humanitarian issues, has now met four times and begun interdisciplinary collaboration, including a project funded by LIDC’s interdisciplinary seed fund which examined and compared health and education interventions in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. 

Working group members have begun to develop an intercollegiate short course which will start in the spring of 2016. LIDC is also providing support to the long-running Humanitarian Debate Series organised by Birkbeck, LSHTM, and Médecins Sans Frontières 

Extending LIDC Partnerships 

LIDC's model of bringing different research groups together to develop innovative international development activities clearly benefits from expanding its disciplinary and sectoral diversity.

In the past few years it has done this by engaging groups in other institutions, as indicated in many of the research collaborations described earlier. A key partner has been University College London, where researchers ranging from engineers to political scientists have joined and contributed to LIDC working groups and projects. In 2013 LIDC established with the Grand Challenges Programme of UCL, similar interdisciplinary initiative across UCL faculties and departments, a new initiative to examine the potential interactions between the Sustainable Development Goals, whose planning had just begun. The project involved researchers from all five LIDC partner colleges and eight departments and centres in UCL. After a series of interdisciplinary discussions, this group settled on a plan to evaluate the potential governance challenges for the SDGs. 

Different SDGs areas were reviewed by experts in that sector and interdisciplinary working groups were then established to explore governance issues within and between sectors. The results were launched as a book ‘Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development’ in 2015, with key findings published in The Lancet. The project presented a distinctive and accessible new perspective on the SDGs and their inter-relations, from which priority challenges for developing strong governance across sectors could be identified. 

In 2013, LIDC’s Strategy Group noted the growing opportunities for research collaboration between academics and NGOs around the design and evaluation of development interventions, and recommended that LIDC initiate activities in this area. In concert with major UK-based NGOs, we have organised a series of Academic-NGO Open Mic events designed to generate conversations and collaboration.


Financial progress

The financial year 2013/14 was a milestone for LIDC. It marked the end of the HEFCE grant that had funded LIDC since its inception in 2008. To manage this change, a new cost-sharing financial model was developed and approved by member colleges in early 2013.

Under this model, member Colleges pay a £10,000 fixed membership fee. The remaining LIDC budget deficit, once direct income has been taken into account, is also paid for by member colleges based on the proportion of total attributable income each College has received from LIDC facilitating the creation of new projects.

LIDC has facilitated the creation of 15 new intercollegiate projects in the period 2013 – 15, representing a total of over £7 million in grant funding for member colleges. The largest of these, the DFID-funded IMMANA project.

Attributable income (AI) is defined as a financial indicator of benefit obtained from inter-college research grants and training courses which would not have been generated without facilitation by LIDC. Not all grant money is counted as AI, indirect costs and recovery of staff salaries, as well as weighted elements of grants that fund PhD and Masters students and post-doctoral researchers are included.

Though the total running costs of LIDC have increased at an average of 4% per year since 2013. The net cost to colleges has dropped by an average of 8.25% per year due to steady increases in the direct income LIDC generates. Direct income comes from LIDC staff working as consultants on other project, project management fees, room rentals, and short course training programmes.