Nilusha Kapugama


Dr. Vigneswara Ilavarasan shared the findings of the Systematic Review on ICTs and Microenterprises with thirty five junior faculty members, as an invited lecturer at the one day “Quality Improvement Workshop on Industry and Society: Contours of Work in the New Economy”, at IIT Roorkee, 18 Jan 2016. At least ten of faculty members are in the initial stages of PhD. The findings of the review are most likely to be explored further by them. Three faculty members said that the topics from the talk shall be allotted to master thesis in their respective colleges.
During its workshop for the electricity sector stakeholders in Sri Lanka, back in February 2014, LIRNEasia spoke about the possibility of using SMS for communicating with its customers. At the time we spoke about informing consumers about planned and unplanned power outages. This is currently being deployed by LECO and selected CEB distribution licencees. It appears the CEB has gone a step further and now intends to inform its consumers of impending disconnections to their electricity supply. The publicity for this service was seen in the weekend newspapers.
LIRNEasia staff was invited to conduct a workshop on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in electricity sector at the Research and Development Center, Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) on 4th March 2014. The workshop was based on the LIRNEasia research on CRM. The invitation was extended to LIRNEasia by Mr W. J. L.
LIRNEasia was invited to participate in the symposium on Food System Innovation in South and Southeast Asia. The event was organised by the Michigan State University (MSU) and The Energy Resource Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, India. The symposium largely featured research on climate change, population growth, irrigation, land use and agriculture innovations. These were drawn from the research done at the Global Center for Food Systems Innovations (GCFSI) at MSU and TERI. Experts from South and Southeast Asia were brought to shed light on the regional conditions.
LIRNEasia had its first systematic review training from 18-20 October 2013 in Wadduwa, Sri Lanka. The workshop brought together 40 researchers and quantitative experts from 18 countries in Asia and Africa. The training was conducted by Hilary Thomson, PhD. The training workshop completed the first stage of an IDRC funded project to conduct Research Capacity Building in Systematic Reviews. In the second stage of the project, LIRNEasia will be conducting systematic reviews on the below mentioned topics.
Ranjula Senaratna Perera, a Researcher at LIRNEasia did a presentation on a policy brief  “Delivering government services to the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh: Telecenters, mobile or both?” at the CPRsouth conference held at the Infosys campus in Mysore, India from 5-7 September 2013. The paper was co-authored with Ayesha Zainudeen and Helani Galpaya. The findings were based on a 4550 sample survey, funded by World Bank.The presentation invoked discussion on the sustainability of telecenters and also gender differences in the use of telecenters.
CPRsouth (through LIRNEasia) is offering a unique opportunity to be trained and to work on systematic reviews. The systematic review method is gaining wide traction in the fields of social science and international development. The method is championed by international agencies such the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank. Considerable funding has been made available to trained reviewers by DFID, AusAid and 3ie over the past three years. A systematic review (SR) synthesizes and summarizes the best available primary research on a specific research question.
The agriculture research done by LIRNEasia included a study into the knowledge and information gaps in the Sri Lankan rubber supply chain. Members of the research team, Sriganesh Lokanathan (Senior Research Manager) and Nilusha Kapugama (Research Manager) were invited to share some of their findings with the consultants involved with the finalization and validation of the Sri Lanka Rubber Industry Master Plan,  funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the City Cluster Economic Development Project. The discussion, held at the rubber secretariat in Colombo, revolved around the creation and sustainability of farmer associations among rubber smallholders. The consultants were particularly interested in a successful rubber smallholder association in Pandeniya, Sri Lanka. The LIRNEasia researchers spoke about the factors that led to the success of the smallholder association in Pandeniya such as financial and technical assistance to set up their operations, ability maintain control of the quality of their rubber and above all the leadership and commitment exhibited by their members.
An op-ed by Harsha de Silva, PhD, in Daily Star, Bangladesh focuses on the Smallholder Quality Penalty (SQP) in the jute supply chains. The SQP is the financial penalty on the market price imposed on the smallholder by the first-handler (generally a collector) due to uncertainty over produce quality. This allows the first-handler to offset potential losses due to the perception of lower quality when selling to the next handler downstream. The SQP exists in most transactions in the supply chain. LIRNEasia research on the jute supply chain conducted in 2011 revealed that the SQP is imposed upon smallholders in the Bangladeshi jute industry.
The findings of the potato study conducted in Bangladesh under LIRNEasia’s 2010-2012 research cycle were shared with stakeholders in Dhaka on 10 April 2012. The dissemination workshop was attended by high level representatives from the government agencies such as Bangladeshi Agriculture Research Institute, Agriculture Information Service (AIS) of Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh, large scale exporters, processors and cold storage providers from the private sector. The stakeholders engaged in a productive exchange after the study findings were presented. The issues discussed included the availability and utilisation of cold storage, the quality of the potato seeds available in Bangladesh and suitability of some of the potato varieties grown for processing and exporting.  The discussion of cold storage brought about further issues such as the under-utilisation (40%) of the cold storage available in some storage spaces, in spite of excessive demand in others.
The findings of the jute study conducted in Bangladesh under LIRNEasia’s 2010-2012 research cycle were shared with stakeholders in Dhaka on 9 April 2012. The dissemination workshop was attended by high level representatives from the government agencies such as Bangladeshi Agriculture Research Institute, the Jute Research Institute as well as representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Bangladesh and private organisations. The findings brought a lively debate about the prevailing issues in the jute industry such as the quality of the seeds in the market and retting techniques as well the quality of the jute produced. There was also discussion about the use of Information and communication technology such as mobiles to bring about some of the improvements in efficiency. The workshop was organised by Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) and Development Research Network (DNET), Bangladesh.
A systematic review are defined as a summation of the best available research (or primary studies) on a specific question. Systematic reviews has its beginnings  in the field of medicine, and has moved on to social sciences over the last few years. The summation or the synthesizing can either be done by a meta-analysis or a meta-synthesis depending on the type primary studies available. LIRNEasia will be conducting a systematic review titled: “The economic impacts of mobile phones”. This work is funded by International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).
The second of the videos features Rann Vijay Kumar, an agricultural first handler from Samasthipur in Bihar, India. He regularly buys vegetables and cereals directly from farmers, which he then stores and sells to wholesalers. He relies heavily on his mobile phone: to stay in touch with both his supplier farmers and buyers, and to know the latest market prices. Prior to using a mobiles, he used public phones, or passed messages around. Today, he travels less and talks more.
In keeping with the objectives of the Teleuse@BOP4 study, a series of videos have been completed. The focus is predominantly on the productive use of mobile phones. The first in this series features Poonam Devi, a beautician from Bihar, India. Poonam’s life has been transformed since she started using a mobile phone in 2007. It helped her to develop a small business as a beautician.
Sangamitra Ramachander, PhD, won the best paper competition at the sixth Communication Policy Research South (CPRsouth6) conference while Faheem Hussain, PhD, was judged as the runner up. Sangamitra, currently attached to the Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, UK, presented the paper titled, “The Price Sensitivity of Mobile Use Among Low Income Households in Six Countries of Asia”. The paper analysed data from the six country survey, Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid (T@BOP), conducted by LIRNEasia in 2008. Sangamitra first participated at CPRsouth1 as a young scholar. She then engaged with CPRsouth as a paper presenter at CPRsouth3, 4 and 6 where she presented chapters of her PhD thesis relevant to communication policy.
Doing good research is of utmost importance. Conveying the research results to the right audience is equally important if change is to be effected. LIRNEasia’s study on Broadband Quality of Service Experience (BBQoSE) began in 2007. Since then, more than six rounds of testing has been conducted in over five countries, using the AT-Tester (developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras). LIRNEasia has used multiple means on conveying the results.