Scientists work in a laboratory at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. Australia provides funding to the Institute through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to improve African food security. Photo: Kate Holt/Africa Practice
Australia funds research to improve the knowledge and understanding of the challenges our partner countries face. The research also provides an evidence base to evaluate the impact of our work and improve the quality of the Australian aid program.
We works closely with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and the Australian International Food Security Centre [external website] to fund research on how to improve food security by lifting agricultural productivity.
We also work with other partner institutions to understand how we can improve food security, by improving rural livelihoods through strengthening markets and building community resilience by supporting social protection.
Improving Social Protection in the Pacific ‘The Pacific Social Protection Series’
Forests provide a range of products that support livelihoods in rural communities - Solomon Islands. Photo: Rob Maccoll/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
This research looks at poverty, vulnerability and social protection across the dimensions of health and education, gender, social cohesion, economic growth, and traditional protection networks in the Pacific islands. It aims to improve the evidence base on formal and informal social protection programs and activities in the Pacific region and makes recommendations on support for strengthening and expanding social protection coverage so it can contribute to achieving development outcomes.
The research was conducted by social protection experts and is based on case studies in Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu—representing the three sub-regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia—and a review of secondary literature. The research has resulted in a set of thematic papers which comprise:
- an overview of poverty and vulnerability in the Pacific and the potential role of social protection
- a briefing on the role of social protection in achieving health and education outcomes
- a life-cycle approach to social protection and gender
- an assessment of the role of social protection in promoting social cohesion and nation-building in the Pacific
- an assessment of the relationship between social protection and economic growth
- a review of the strengths and weaknesses of informal social protection in the Pacific
- a micro-simulation analysis of social protection interventions in Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
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Targeting the Poorest: An assessment of the proxy means test methodology
An Oportunidades staff member performs a proxy means test to assess a potential program beneficiary. Photo: Rob Maccoll/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
As social protection practitioners search for effective ways to target poor people in developing countries, proxy means testing (PMT) has become increasingly popular. This study assesses its accuracy, objectivity, transparency and ease of implementation. The study finds that PMT is inherently inaccurate, especially at low levels of coverage, and is relatively arbitrary in its selection of beneficiaries.
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Research for Development Alliance—Food System Innovation
Together with the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) we have launched the Research for Development Alliance [external website] to improve the research base that underpins the Australian international development program.
The Research for Development Alliance will focus on key areas of Australia’s international development program, including Food Security Through Food System Innovation.
Research to improve food security through food system innovation will examine the most effective ways to improve agricultural productivity and market links, to achieve our strategic goals of making more food available in markets and poor households, and increasing the income of poor women and men.
The findings of the Research for Development Alliance will improve Australia’s ability to design, implement and evaluate effective international development initiatives to improve the food security of poor women and men and contribute to rural development in our partner countries.
African Food Security Initiative—Research Partnerships
The Australian aid-funded African Food Security Initiative [external website] brings together agricultural scientists from Australia and Africa to address priority agricultural issues in African partner countries.
Australia’s recognised expertise in dry-land farming and livestock management and research, and similarities between various Australian and African climates, open valuable opportunities for African-Australian collaboration in agricultural science. Research partnerships between the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) and Biosciences Eastern and Central African (BECA will focus on improving animal health, land management and crop yields in West, Central and Eastern Africa.
This valuable research collaboration will involve more than 30 countries, spanning more than half the African continent and Australia, delivering important lessons for both African and Australian agriculture and agricultural markets.