PWIAS: Global Community

November 16, 2021

PWIAS supports collaborative research conducted in partnership with international partners, community organizations and end-users.  These projects address a range of issues affecting communities in different parts of the world, including India, Colombia, and the African continent.

Improving Maternal and Child Health

Guy Dumont (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Pascal Lavoie (BC Children’s Hospital) led Impact Now, a research colloquium to advance maternal, newborn and child health in partnership with the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS) in South Africa. The forum generated collaborations for development and implementation of innovations to reduce mortality in mothers and babies in low to middle income countries (LMIC), particularly sub-Saharan Africa. Projects include a neonatal healthcare program in Malawi and a smartphone app to measure critical vital signs in sick infants. (November 2019)

In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 550 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth

Cleaner Cooking Fuels

Hisham Zerriffi (Forest Resources Management) and Abishek Kar evaluated the Indian government’s Ujjwala program to encourage rural village households to convert to cleaner cooking fuels like LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), from their traditional firewood stoves. Ujjawala provided capital cost subsidies to each eligible household receiving the program.  Researchers found monetary incentives were insufficient to result in a majority of consumers converting to LPG. Policies are recommended to increase fuel conversion and decrease health and environmental impacts. (November 2019)

Subsidies are necessary for LPG adoption but are not sufficient to motivate regular LPG use in low-income rural families

Reclaiming Victims of Mass Violence

Pilar Riano-Alcala (Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice) worked with the Committee for the Rights of the Victims of Bojayá to support victims of violence in Colombia, enabling mass graves to be exhumed, identified and reburied in a manner consistent with traditional community practices. The war in Colombia spanned five decades.  Between 2006 and 2016 alone, 5,267 mass graves were found and 60,699 persons were identified as missing, most from Indigenous and Black communities. These communities are now leading processes on the rightful ceremonies and practices to exhume, identify, and rebury their dead, at times clashing with government-led forensic scientific teams. Dr. Riano-Alcala’s team developed a “best practices” resource and knowledge outputs (life histories and video letters) for distribution at local, regional, national and international levels. (November 2019)

Traditional funeral rites for reclaimed victims of Bojaya massacre (Photo: Truth Commission)

Anti-Mosquito Recycled Paint

Kevin Golovin (School of Engineering) and his team at UBC Okanagan teamed up with Loop Recycled Products based in Toronto. This project aimed to develop an anti-mosquito formulation as an additive to inexpensive, recycled paint, and to distribute the paint to impoverished nations to combat malarial outbreaks. Loop has exclusive rights to use Kyzox, an anti-mosquito additive, in North America. Researchers will try to optimize the repellency of the anti-mosquito recycled paint, distribute the paint at no cost to community partners in Ghana, Nigeria, and the Cameroon, and assess its efficacy at curtailing malaria in real-world conditions. (September 2019)

School in Kumasi, Ghana painted with anti-mosquito recycled paint (2019)

Children of War

Girls and women abducted by rebel soldiers in Uganda who are able to return to their communities face extreme poverty and social stigma. Communities often reject survivors and their children. Erin Baines (School of Public Policy and Global Affairs), Evelyn Amony (WAN – Women’s Advocacy Network), and Beini Ye at REDRESS (NGO for victims’ legal rights) focused on the women’s experiences of seeking reparations, and “child tracing” activities for the children born as a result of forced marriage to the soldiers. Child tracing refers to the process of locating a child’s paternal clan, which in Acholi culture is responsible for the child’s health and well-being. (September 2019)

Evelyn Amony and her youngest child, born in captivity (Photo by Erin Baines, 2005)

The Storybooks Project

Bonny Norton (Language and Literacy Education) launched the African Storybooks Project after a 2013 Wall Colloquium Abroad in South Africa. This unique literary initiative provides open license picture story books for early reading in multiple African languages. The project has grown from its pilot sites in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to over 150 languages and over 1000 story books. Based on their success, Dr. Norton and her team are now working to re-purpose the African stories for a Canadian audience through Storybooks Canada and Indigenous Storybooks. (January 2019)

African Storybook Project