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From the Executive Director

Dr. Van Crowder

I’m pleased to share this new edition of CIRED Connect. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, CIRED continues to carry out its mission to seek partnerships and funding in support of Virginia Tech’s global land-grant mission.  

Providing opportunities for faculty and student involvement in research, teaching, and development of solutions to problems beyond the boundaries of the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation, results in benefits to the university and to the many people and communities it serves.  To this end, CIRED managed the following projects and programs during 2020:  

  • USAID-funded Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab (IPM/IL)
  • USAID Senegal Youth in Agriculture (YIA)
  • USAID Catalyzing Afghan Agricultural Innovation (CAAI)
  • UNICEF-funded African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA)
  • USAID Honduras Rural Livelihoods, Migration and Violence Study
  • MCC Guatemala - Strengthening Escuela Nacional Central de Agricultura (ENCA)
  • VT Peace Corps Program
  • Women and Gender in International Development Program
  • Workforce Education and Development Program

In addition, there are two projects pending: a 3-year associate award from USAID Bangladesh to the IPM/IL and a 5-year sub-award from the USAID Advancing Higher Education for Afghanistan’s Development (AHEAD) project. 

Across these programs and projects, 36 sub-awards and agreements were managed, approximately 13,874 people were served, and 1,465 students were engaged in research and learning.  

As the global pandemic persists, CIRED continues to face challenges related to grant-seeking and project implementation, especially those with in-country offices. Project activities have been affected by country bans on travel and gatherings and, as a result, country project teams have had to adjust accordingly. CIRED has put in place project-specific COVID protocols that take into account country, donor, and Virginia Tech guidance. Short-term technical assistance by VT faculty has been largely eliminated and support has shifted to online, distance mentoring and training.    

The changing donor landscape due to COVID, but also a result of global political and economic uncertainties, also poses challenges.  Numerous USAID solicitations have been delayed or cancelled.  We are seeing funding shifting to certain priority sectors with COVID itself being a major focus, but also other infectious diseases and more broadly, health systems strengthening, food security and nutrition, and workforce development.  We are focusing on these funding shifts in addition to still focusing on other sectors where VT has appropriate expertise. 

I would like to take this opportunity to commend CIRED staff and faculty for their hard work and persistence during these challenging times.  I would also like to thank our numerous partners, internal and external, for their continued support and understanding as we stay the course of carrying out our mission despite the many obstacles.  We are all in a race to defeat COVID-19.  As we run this race, we should remember that perseverance and success are not the result of one long race, but come from winning many short races one after the other.   

Take care and best regards,

Van Crowder

Executive Director, Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED)

Professor, Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education (ALCE)