Capacity-strengthening initiatives

Strengthening capacity is the second funding stream of our International Development Fund (IDF), and provides funding to a number of partnered institutions from Scotland and our partner countries.

Increasingly too, we are working across other Scottish Government Ministerial portfolios for international development outcomes which contribute to our overall capacity building work, working towards our commitment on the Beyond Aid agenda.

Our current capacity-strengthening projects

Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre: sustainable organic agriculture support project

We provided £240,000 over three years (2017 to 2020) to the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) in Zambia, via the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF). This project provides capacity-building funding to KATC to build on the earlier Scottish Government-funded Kulima project (2012 to 2017) in order to promote and provide training in sustainable organic agriculture (SOA).
Scottish Government funding is split between the International Development Fund and the Climate Justice Fund, and is matched by SCIAF.  The project will also draw on the expertise of Scotland’s Rural College.  There are two main strands to the project:
  •  to develop and deliver training courses in SOA
  • to increase the capacity of KATC to become more self-sustaining through commercial SOA production

Police Scotland in Africa

We provided Police Scotland with £500,000 per year until 2019 to support the specialist training they are carrying out with police forces in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda for tackling gender-based violence and improving child protection.

This builds upon work that Police Scotland has been doing with the Malawian Police Service since 2016, supported by funding from our IDF, in response to and as part of the Government of Malawi's Food Insecurity response plan.

From 2019, following the success of Police Scotland’s work with police forces in Malawi and Zambia to help them tackle gender-based violence and improve child protection, we are supporting an expanded Police partnership programme to protect vulnerable groups in Malawi and Zambia. The phase 2 expanded programme will now support leadership to tackle local issues and give support to a wider range of marginalised groups such as women, children, those with disabilities, LGBTI and people with albinism.

Read more about Police Scotland's work in Africa on the International blog and at Police Scotland’s International Development & Innovation Unit website.

Blantyre-Blantyre Clinical Research Project

We are providing the University of Glasgow with £1 million over five years, which will be match funded, to fund a collaborative clinical research project with the College of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi, and the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust.

The project will set up three fully-equipped laboratories at the College of Medicine in Blantyre, enabling scientists there to conduct research into increasingly prevalent non-communicable diseases in Malawi. This will create a comparison between the populations of Blantyre in West Central Scotland and Blantyre in Malawi, and is believed to be a unique study between two such countries.

The project will aim to establish the key markers of certain non-communicable diseases among the local population, and to compare these results with research into the Glasgow Effect and the prevalence of similar conditions in the population of West Central Scotland. The new facilities will also enable the College of Medicine to host clinical trials of the drugs associated with these conditions, and provide a future platform for clinical trials in other areas.

Read the news story: Funding for international clinical research

Scotland Malawi Psychiatry Capacity Development Project and Zambia extension

We are providing up to £300,000 over four years to the Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project (SMMHEP) to deliver the Scotland Malawi Psychiatry Capacity Development Project. This project aims to address the chronic lack of mental healthcare provision in Malawi.

Building on two previous Scottish Government grants that established Malawi's first ever M.Med Psychiatry, it will provide funding for four trainees to become clinically qualified psychiatrists at Malawi's College of Medicine. Trainees will undertake two years' training at the College of Medicine and two years' specialist tuition at the University of Cape Town. The trainees will be supported by e-learning materials previously created under a University of Edinburgh project funded by the Scottish Government.

Read the news story: Medical help for Malawi

Building on SMMHEP (which was Malawi only), we awarded an enhanced package of support to improve psychiatric care in Zambia and promote cross-border psychiatry training with Malawi in October 2018.

Led in Scotland by the SMMHEP, this mental health programme is innovative and incredibly powerful. It involves mental health staff from across a collaboration of NHS Boards in Scotland, coming together to support two of our partner countries, and in collaboration with the Colleges of Medicine in both Malawi and Zambia.

Livingstone fellowships: Malawi and Zambia

The existing Livingstone Fellowships Scheme by Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow provides a framework for sponsored trainees to come and work in the Scottish Health Service for a year or more. This has previously allowed the doctors an opportunity to extend their experience before returning to Malawi to take up consultant posts. We are providing funding of £200,000 from February 2018, building upon the existing Livingstone Fellowships Scheme, expanding it to Zambia too.

The Livingstone Fellowship Scheme, provided through the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, will allow three experienced doctors from Zambia and Malawi to spend a year in Scotland receiving further training which they will then take back home to the benefit of their communities. It will also provide funding for up to a further eight doctors from both countries to receive the smaller fellowship grants. 

Read the news story: David Livingstone Fellowships expanded 

Malawian College of Medicine: governance initiative

Scottish Government funding has had a long-term partnership with the College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi since 2005, and in fact the College was named in our original 2005 Cooperation Agreement with the Government of Malawi. In 2018, the College of Medicine identified two priority areas which would benefit from Scottish support, on governance and their dental school, partnering with Glasgow University. The two initiatives, proposed from Malawi and agreed by the Scottish Government, were announced during the visit of the President of Malawi to Scotland in April 2018.


The College of Medicine will shortly become a fully independent university. The University of Glasgow, which already has successful partnerships in place with the College, has agreed to establish a formal mentoring and support link to assist them with this new phase in their development. To help fund this, we will invest £100,000 over the next two years to support this Malawi Governance initiative.

Dental training

The College’s dental school requires a pre-clinical skills facility known as a ‘phantom head’ unit. This allows students to learn operative techniques before they begin to treat patients. We are providing £50,000 to fully refurbish the phantom head unit at the College’s Lilongwe Dental Skills facility.

Read the news story: President of Malawi visits Scotland

Emergency medical care, Zambia: Scottish Ambulance Service  

We are supporting Zambia in developing their Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and improving patient care.

From November 2018, £50,000 is being invested in supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service to work with the Zambian health authorities. They will carry out an in-depth assessment of the current EMS in Central Province, and work with the authorities in Zambia to develop a plan for improving outcomes and saving lives by improving areas such as emergency response, patient transfer, and the identification of required medical supplies and equipment.

Read the news story: Expanding Healthcare in Zambia

Social enterprise academies: Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda

We are supporting the establishment of Social Enterprise Academies (SEAs) in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda to join the global network of SEAs. Our funding to the Social Enterprise Academy in Scotland is enabling peer-to-peer working to set up and support those new SEAs in our partner countries. Scottish expertise will help a generation of entrepreneurs set up social enterprises in southern Africa, backed by funding from the Scottish Government. Scotland’s Social Enterprise Academy has since finalised a three-year partnership with Jubilee Enterprise in Malawi, with discussions taking place with local organisations in Rwanda and Zambia.

Social enterprises are businesses that trade for the common good and reinvest any profits to deliver on a social or environmental purpose.

Read the news story: Social Enterprise in Africa

Visit the Social Enterprise Academy Malawi's website  

Community Energy Malawi Organisation

We are providing up to £100,000 over four years, via Strathclyde University, to continue to support the small Malawi-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Community Energy Malawi. Community Energy Malawi was originally established under our £2.3 million Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme (MREAP). Read about MREAP from 2012 to 2015 in our archive.

This further funding, along with business and technical support, will continue to support and build capacity in rural communities in accessing clean energy, improving health, education and economic development.

Visit the Community Energy Malawi website.

Beyond Aid agenda: wider international development contributions

We are increasingly working across Ministerial portfolios for positive development outcomes.

Water Division: resource management and governance partnership with the Government of Malawi

A key example, which contributes to SDG6 (Clean Water & Sanitation) and to SDG16 (on Governance), is the ongoing joint working under the HydroNation agenda between the Scottish and Malawian Governments at official level on water resource management, governance and legislation. 

Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing on key issues has informed new legislation introduced by both countries in updating aspects of water law and dialogue has highlighted many common areas of interest including water resource management, community management of assets and increasing public engagement.

Read more at the HydroNation pages      

Health Directorates and NHS Scotland

In 2017, the Chief Medical Officer launched the report 'Global Citizenship in the Scottish Health Service' produced by the RCPSG in response to a commission from the Scottish Global Health Collaborative led by the Scottish Government's Chief Medical Officer. The report contained 8 recommendations, describing how NHS Scotland engagement in global health can be enhanced in a way that maximises the reciprocal benefits of global health work and recognises the realities of 'home' service pressures. The report included evidence that this valuable work not only helps to reduce common challenges such as disease epidemics but also provides mutual learning opportunities bringing proven benefits for our NHS staff and healthcare system through a refreshed and reinvigorated workforce.

Scottish Government Ministers for International Development and for Mental Health jointly welcomed the RCPSG Report and we committed to working closely with partners across NHS Scotland to implement the Recommendations including piloting a Scottish Global Health Co-ordination Unit.

In NHS Scotland, staff from across all work groups already make a significant personal and professional contribution to global health work in low and middle income countries. The NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme’s key aims are to reflect and support our existing international development commitments to our partner countries, as set out, and in alignment with, our International Development Strategy, in particular our commitment to support capacity strengthening in those countries in the area of health; and make it easier for all NHS staff to participate in global citizenship both here in Scotland and abroad by ensuring better guidance, co-ordination and support. This Scottish Government led global health work – and in particular the development of the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme – is a key example of the Beyond Aid agenda – where we continue to work across Ministerial portfolios to support international aims and identify other policies which can contribute positively to development outcomes.

Read more on the new website for the Scottish Global Health Coordination Unit, which we part fund from our International Development Fund along with Scottish Government Health Directorates

Education Scotland

Education Scotland, our national body for supporting quality and improvement in learning and teaching, has also signed a formal agreement with the Malawi Government, to support the sharing of knowledge and skills to support improvements in education.

Read Education Scotland's International Engagement Strategy

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