College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Global research projects receive funding boost

Edinburgh researchers have received a grant as part of an investment by the UK Government to help global communities most at risk from the impact of Covid-19.

The £7.2 million investment brings together leading research institutions from across the world for 20 new projects to develop new technology and processes to address the challenges faced by some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Dr Thomas Molony in the School of Social and Political Science will receive £367,000 to investigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on elections in Africa.

Working in partnership with colleagues in the Central African Republic, Ghana and Tanzania, the study will find ways to protect the electorate from Covid-19 transmission.

Collaborative project

The project team - comprising of country specialists, leading public health researchers, and election experts - plan to investigate multiple stages of each election.

They will track patterns of turnout and use gender balanced survey samples  to investigate attitudes towards voting so that any emergent gender inequality is highlighted.

Commenting on the project Dr Moloney said elections give people the opportunity to shape the future of their societies and such decisions are crucial in the context of Covid-19, which has drastically affected lives around the globe.


 A number of elections are still due to take place this year in Africa, and there are a further 18 elections are scheduled for 2021. By working to reduce the risks of Covid-19 transmission during elections, we're contributing towards one of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing for all at all ages. We are also interested in democracy. The Covid-19 pandemic has the potential for democratic back-sliding, where the quality and legitimacy of elections are undermined - either unintentionally because of safety measures, or intentionally where incumbents seek to instrumentalise the virus through authoritarian measures designed to benefit themselves.

Dr Thomas MoloneyDirector of Centre of African Studies


Other projects receiving UK Government funding include delivering mass vaccination capacity in Bangladesh, protective equipment for refugees in Jordan and remote healthcare access for patients in Nigeria.

The £7.2 million UK government funding will be managed by UK aid programmes, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

Project summaries

School of Social and Political Science -

Centre of African Studies

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