The Social Inclusion Research Fund has been established to address the challenges of social inclusion/exclusion in Nepal as identified by a study conducted on social inclusion and nation building. The social inclusion and nation building that focuses on structural inequalities and their implications for building a more inclusive groups and civil society organisations to advocate their interests to influence parts of the research agenda. The Research Fund also aims to facilitate the dissemination of critical discourses related to the outcome of the research programmes, as well as allowing for advocacy groups to use the research results for their own purpose. The research fund is supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and managed by SNV/Nepal.

The Social Inclusion Research Fund will primarily function as a financing institution based on inviting applications and granting support. The fund will operate grants to achieve the different identified outputs.

Objectives of the Social Inclusion Research Fund (SIRF)

The Research Programme on Social Inclusion and Nation Building aims at supporting research agendas on material poverty, social deprivation and political exclusion so as to contribute to the understanding of the conditions by which the Nepalese nation and democracy can transcend social and cultural categories, and thereby allow for social mobility to take the place of social exclusion. Besides contributing to the understanding of the structural inequalities of Nepalese society, the programme will address the problem of inequality in the research practice itself by broadening the participation in and access to research among Nepal's many social and cultural groups. Furthermore, the programme aims to promote a Nepali social science that is more indigenised and less dominated by development agendas imposed by outsiders, ensuring adherence to the accepted quality standards of scientific practice at the same time. Research and the research community have important roles to play in contributing to an informed political debate and the screening of viable political strategies on both sides of the conflict. This includes not only research in Nepal, but also systematic efforts at learning from international experiences and debates. To perform such roles, there is a critical need to ensure quality and relevance of research output.

Therefore, the research programme will respond to certain weaknesses in the structure of financing and organisation of social science research in Nepal, which are:

  • Funding for longer-term researcher-initiated projects open and attractive to already established researchers.
  • Organisations that do not have international links - such as many local NGOs working for the interests of particular localities or ethnic groups - face difficulties in promoting research and influencing research agendas.
  • Conventional research grants awarded on the basis of screening of applications tend to favour students with an elite background. The funding pattern reinforces existing social inequalities in terms of access to higher education.
  • Institutions currently carrying out research lack funds, facilities and programmes for the mentoring of younger professionals.

On this background, the main objectives of the SIRF are as follows:

  • Produce high quality and critical research on causes of social exclusion in Nepal and ways to accommodate and manage diversity.
  • Make social science research more relevant to excluded and disadvantaged groups and their agendas.
  • Ensure that research contributes more effectively to policy debate and a deliberative democratic process.
Strategies and Outputs
  1. The Research Programme will pursue the objectives by following three main outputs and corresponding strategies:
    Promoting research of high quality through financing longer- term research projects, prioritisation of empirically based studies in cooperation with marginal and excluded groups, using peer review mechanisms for control of scientific quality, providing incentives for researchers to carry out difficult fieldwork and promoting young research candidates by stimulating linkages (mentoring, exchange of views, review of reports/proposals) between established research institutions/researchers and young research candidates/"research activists."
  2. Promoting research of relevance to issues of social inclusion and nation building by promoting the involvement of disadvantaged and marginalised groups in research through an apprenticeship programme and linking researchers to agendas set by interest and advocacy groups in the area of social, economic and political exclusion and poverty.
  3. Promoting research that stimulates public debate by supporting diverse initiatives for dissemination of research outputs in ways that stimulates debate and engages policy makers, donor representatives and the informed public in general; and giving special priority to initiatives for "giving back" research results to interest and advocacy groups working for the rights of disadvantaged and marginalised groups.