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Few people in this world are untouched by COVID-19. When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the disease had already taken many lives and destroyed livelihoods. Today, both the virus and the measures taken to slow its spread threaten to reverse decades of development progress and our ability to build a more sustainable and inclusive world.

As the pandemic knows no borders, defeating it requires a strong response in every country and collaboration across the globe.

IDRC, our strategic partners, and the researchers we support have been mobilizing to meet this challenge by adapting our established work to the context of the pandemic. Within months of the WHO’s announcement, we also launched dedicated rapid-response initiatives and joined partners in collaborative responses, resulting in a CA$54.6 million investment in COVID-19 programming in more than 65 countries.

More than 60 IDRC-supported research projects across six initiatives are studying the impact of the pandemic, and developing and testing effective interventions:

These rapid-response initiatives address urgent local needs, focus on the most vulnerable people and communities, and stay true to our commitment to invest in high-quality research and innovation in developing countries.

IDRC also partnered with South Africa’s National Research Foundation to launch 80 activities under the COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund. Through this fund, African researchers, science communicators, and science advisers in 17 countries are ensuring that knowledge on COVID-19 in Africa is produced, widely shared, and used to make decisions.

Through the Global Partnership for Education’s Knowledge and Innovation Exchange, we also support learning and information sharing in Africa to meet the education system needs created by COVID-19. The Observatory on COVID-19 responses in Africa’s educational systems tracks information and evidence about policies and practices to support the operation of education systems and the well-being of children whose schooling has been disrupted by the pandemic. 

IDRC will synthesize and share results and learnings from across these research investments to inform local, regional, and global agendas, sharing knowledge that is ready for use and that responds to emerging challenges.

There is still much to do. The scale of the COVID-19 challenge requires immense resources and a collective response. Just as we have done numerous times in the past, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with local experts to respond to needs on the ground, share knowledge for greater uptake, and mobilize alliances for impact.


Research in Action


COVID-19 Impact: Testimonials from the Field

IDRC recipients, spread out over the Global South, are rising above adversity to face many of the unique research challenges posed by the pandemic. IDRC is grateful for their commitment to the important work that IDRC supports around the world, especially during these uncertain times.

COVID-19 Impact: Testimonials from the Field - an interview with Dr. Shadi Saleh​

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An interview with Winnie Bikaako

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An interview with Omotayo Fakinlede

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Sylvain Cherkaoui/Panos Pictures