skip to primary navigationskip to content

Applied Collaborations

The Humanitarian Centre

The Humanitarian Centre is an international development network affiliated with the University of Cambridge. It brings together NGOs, researchers, entrepreneurs, academics, business leaders, students and consultants working to reduce global poverty. The Humanitarian Centre exists to facilitate collaboration between sectors and disciplines, to share best practice, and to promote dialogue and learning. In parallel they build the skills and capacity of over 40 NGOs and member groups. By adding value to UK-based work with overseas partners, the Humanitarian Centre positively impacts communities across the world.

The Humanitarian Centre and CGHR have also created a joint internship programme, where a volunteer can gain experience of working for both organizations. The rotating interns have been particularly active in supporting Dr Abreu Lopes on the Africa’s Voices pilot project, seizing the opportunity to support communications with partner radio stations, maintain project outreach, and help with data analysis.

humcentre logo

IBM Research | Africa 

IBM Research  has been developing their study of cognitive computing – systems that learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either man or machine could do on their own. They help human experts make better decisions by penetrating the complexity of "big data." The intersection of IBM's research interests and those of CGHR have been demonstrated by the cooperation between the Centre and the newly launched IBM Research Africa Lab in Nairobi.

The Centre's Director Dr Srinivasan is working directly with the lab to investigate further the role of cognitive computing in Africa's development. CGHR Research Associate Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes will also spend 2-3 months in 2014 on secondment at the IBM Research Africa Lab. Dr Abreu Lopes' work with the lab, which will focus on understanding the role of social sciences to provide an interpretative framework when attempting to gain a deeper understanding of "big data.", is supported by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account at the University of Cambridge.

IBM Research Africa logo   news image


Internews is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard. The PiMA research team have partnered with this US-based media development organization, with a view to sharing the project’s outputs and thus maximizing their impact.


UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Since 2011, CGHR has been collaborating with the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Professor Christof Heyns to produce in-depth research on topics directly associated with his mandate. Information on the role played by Special Rapporteurs within the system of the UN Human Rights Council can be found here. More information about Prof. Heyns' particular mandate can be found here. It can be characterised as being concerned, normatively, with the right to life.

In 2012 a group of student researchers presented their study of the “Right to Life of Journalists” to an expert panel convened in Cambridge. Their research was used to inform the Special Rapporteur’s subsequent thematic report to the Human Rights Council. The report is available to read online here.  The Special Rapporteur has now initiated a study into levels and contexts of unlawful killing in Africa.

Professor Christof Heyns

YouGov Cambridge Programme

YouGov has always valued strong links with the academic community and in 2011, it established a unique partnership with the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at Cambridge University, to facilitate greater collaboration between academic experts and opinion-research professionals in the study of public opinion. Under this umbrella, YouGov is currently advising CGHR on its Africa's Voices project, which aims to develop new platforms for opinion-research in Sub-Saharan Africa using radio and mobile phones.


Cambridge Governance Labs

Cambridge Governance Labs is an interdisciplinary initiative to promote good governance in developing countries, especially Africa. It does so by focusing on decision-making and the factors that enhance or degrade decision-making capability, especially in developing countries. Good governance relies on sound decisions and the right balance of power between society and its leaders. By equipping citizens and leaders alike to make better decisions, CGL seeks to enhance productivity, reduce conflict and empower stakeholders to work more harmoniously towards common social and development objectives.

There are close links between CGHR and CGL which provide much scope for collaboration and jointly hosting events. CGL Director, Dr John Barker, has been an associate of CGHR since its inception and CGHR's Director, Dr Srinivasan, serves on CGL’s Expert Panel.


A lack of communication can be a major barrier for grassroots NGOs working in developing countries. FrontlineSMS is the first text messaging system created exclusively with this problem in mind. By leveraging basic tools already available to most NGOs - computers and mobile phones - FrontlineSMS enables instantaneous two-way communication on a large scale. It is easy to implement, simple to operate and the software is free.

The applied collaboration between CGHR and FrontlineSMS was a core component of the Centre’s New Communication Technologies and Citizen-led Governance in Africa project. FrontlineSMS has the capacity to turn a laptop – or desktop – computer and a mobile phone or modem into a group messaging hub. It works anywhere there is a mobile signal, with no need for the Internet: a major advantage for local organisations and grassroots NGOs. The collaborative work between CGHR and FrontlineSMS led to the development and deployment of FrontlineSMS:Radio. CGHR used both forms of software in the Africa’s Voices applied pilot project.