altTwenty-seven developing countries, including 17 LDCs, can now count on the expertise of local researchers to provide policy-relevant analysis on the effect of trade on poverty, after successfully completing the 11-week Vi online course on trade and poverty, held February 3 to April 20.

The second edition of the course, co-funded by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Government of Finland, selected 45 participants from 38 countries, out of the 235 applications received. Thirty-one candidates went on to successfully complete the course’s six modules, related tests and hands-on exercises.

“I had some background on trade and poverty before but after this course I can call myself a trade and poverty expert,” reported Cameroonian researcher, Francis Hypolite Kemeze, who is currently a PhD student at the University of Ghana. “I have got during this course a lot of knowledge on data sources, tools and how to apply these tools on practical data and come up with relevant policy recommendations.”

“I got to know of many useful data sources I did not know, especially for household surveys,” wrote Tichaona Pfumayaramba of Zimbabwe’s University of Venda. “The empirics lectures were very useful and gave me a good feel of the trade and poverty data analysis techniques. Importantly, they also covered interpretation of results as well as the possible policy implications.”

In the end-of-course evaluation, all participants stated that the course enhanced their knowledge of data sources, tools, methods and policy-relevant research questions on trade and poverty, with 71 percent rating the course as having "extremely" or "very much" enhanced their knowledge in the areas covered. In addition, 89 percent of the graduates felt ready to undertake policy-relevant research on trade and poverty independently or in partnership with a more experienced researcher, and/or instruct their students on the tools and methods used in the course.

“Given that I am working with a policy institution and have advanced training in economics at PhD level, trade and poverty will be one of my research areas,” said Tanzanian Zarau Kibwe, currently a PhD student at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Japan. “This will help my institution improve its way of making policy as now it will be coming up with evidence-based policies as a result of the research I am going to undertake collaboratively with other colleagues.

“I would like to go on studying and reading on the subject as well as to try to replicate the course for postgraduate students in my country,” said Adriana Peluffo, of Vi core member, Uruguay’s Universidad de la República. “I have taken the course due to the recommendation of a colleague from Argentina, in order to develop a comparative research on commodities prices and the impact on Argentina and Uruguay.”

Participants were asked to provide specific examples of their plans to use the knowledge and skills gained in the course in their teaching, research and policy advice work.

With regard to teaching, 19 participants said that they would use the materials from the course in their university teaching of econometrics, international/agricultural trade, and international business at the undergraduate, graduate and PhD levels. Participants from Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe noted that they will also use the course to provide research guidance to students. The participant from the Gambia planned to organize a Stata software training workshop for his colleagues; the participant from Bangladesh for a course on the impact of trade on poverty for government officials. The Rwandan participant said that attending the course would assist him in developing his university's e-learning resources.

“I plan to teach my students how we can measure the gains from trade and what we expect after our country joins the WTO,” said Ebaidalla Mahjoub Ebaidalla, of Sudan’s University of Kassala.

“I will be able to assist the students whom I supervise on tools that are available to them for use in their analysis,” said Zibanani Kahaka, of Vi core member, the University of Botswana. “ I will also be a in a better position to evaluate/review papers on similar topics.

The bulk of examples provided by the participants, however, concentrated on research. The 33 participants who said that they would use the knowledge from the course in research mentioned 24 specific papers of relevance to their countries on which they would like to work.

“Thanks to this course, I feel more prepared to launch a big project to evaluate the impact of a reform of fuel subsidy on household welfare,” said Philippe Thadal, of Haiti’s Ministry of Economy and Finance.

“As a young researcher, the course has improved my capacity to conduct trade and poverty research. I expect to conduct a study on my country to analyze the impact of the liberalization of the cocoa and coffee sector in Côte d'Ivoire on poverty,” said Christian Aboua, of the Université de Cocody-Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.