About us

The Impact Initiative for international development research aims to increase the uptake and impact of research from two research programmes jointly funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department for International Development (DFID): the Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research and the Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme.

The Initiative will achieve this through a process of identifying synergies between the programmes and grant holders, and supporting them collectively and individually to exploit influencing and engagement opportunities. As well as facilitating knowledge exchange and policy engagement on behalf of the two programmes, the Initiative will develop programme-level research communication outputs in order to ensure each programme’s research is effectively communicated and shared, and to raise the profiles of the programmes themselves. The Initiative will seek to identify examples of where the ESRC-DFID Strategic Partnership has contributed to changes in development processes, and will contribute to the wider discourse around what effective knowledge mobilisation looks like and understandings of modes of research impact.

Who we are

The Initiative is funded through the ESRC DFID Strategic Partnership and is led by a partnership between the University of Cambridge's Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre (REAL) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). The Initiative is supported by a group of highly respected academics, who between them have led research on every major theme covered by the two programmes, and a pool of communications and knowledge specialists.

How the Impact Initiative will make a difference

By linking the impact agendas of The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and The Department for International Development (DFID) and building on IDS’ commitment to ‘Engaged Excellence ‘and Cambridge’s approach to achieving and evaluating impact, we value broad-based impacts that have a life beyond the end of a project. Impact is not only about producing specific pieces of evidence for policy and practice or strengthening individuals’ skills, the Initiative also seeks to embed the behaviours and strengthen the relationships that will enable ongoing development and impact.

The ESRC–DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation

In 2005, DFID and the ESRC formed a strategic partnership to provide a joint funding scheme for international development research. The aim of the scheme is to enhance the quality and impact of social science research, addressing the key international development goal of reducing poverty amongst the poorest countries and peoples of the world. Since 2005, the scheme has funded 139 research projects, held in 65 organisations.

Follow the link to the Joint Fund website here.

The ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems programme

This programme will generate world-class, cutting-edge social science research that addresses key questions on learning outcomes within education systems in developing countries. The aim is to provide policymakers and practitioners with concrete ideas on how to improve learning, and understanding of how these will translate to their specific contexts and institutions. The 2014 call focused on Teacher Effectiveness and awarded across 11 grants. The 2015 call focused on the theme of ‘Challenging Contexts’ – where education systems face particular challenges, which enable and/or inhibit the raising of learning outcomes. See ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems programme website for more detailed information.

ESRC’s impact toolkit and other resources are also available to download.

 All content is available under the Open Government License v3.0, except where otherwise stated. 


Some of the contents on the Impact Initiative website are original source and are written by researchers and experts connected to the two research programmes jointly funded by ESRC and DFID: the Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research and the Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme. Other contents are imported from related websites and programmes. The views expressed in these pages reflect the opinions of each individual and may not represent the Institute of Development Studies, the University of Cambridge, ESRC or DFID.