Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE)

The Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement in Sub-Saharan Africa (CIRCLE) programme is an initiative of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) to develop the skills and research output of early career African researchers in the field of climate change and its local impacts on development. The programme will also work with institutions to develop a coordinated and strategic approach to supporting early career researchers. CIRCLE has been allocated GBP 4.85 million over 5 years (2014-2018), and is managed by the ACU and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS).

Alongside the fellowships, an institutional strengthening programme (ISP) will be led by Vitae to strengthen capacity of the institutions involved in the programme to provide support for early career researchers. The position of researchers and their institutions within global academia will be further strengthened through guidance from the Quality Support Component (QSC), a consortium of internationally renowned institutions, led by the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, UK. The consortium will advise on developing and disseminating the research that contributes to international discourse in the field.

CIRCLE organogram

Progress to date

In June 2014, institutions were invited to submit a full application to participate in the programme, either as hosts or homes for a one-year CIRCLE Visiting Fellowship. Home institutions were invited to nominate staff within their institution who showed promise in the field of climate change research. Fellows were expected to have an innovative research proposal that builds on the latest international research as well as providing new insights and solutions to local climate-related developments and challenges.

Two cohorts of fellows have now completed their fellowships and the final cohort of 37 fellows commenced in January 2017. For the first round of fellowships, 34 candidates from nine African countries were selected. For the second cohort, 29 fellows from seven African countries were selected. For the third cohort, 37 fellows from nine African countries were selected. Details of the CIRCLE fellows are available by clicking on the relevant links below:

Reports from fellows show a high level of activity achieved over the fellowship year. The post-fellowship workshops have also highlighted the strong bond that has formed between fellows and their enthusiasm to continue to be a catalyst for change within their institutions. The workshops have trained fellows in leadership and research uptake skills, ready for their return to their institutions. 

A pre-departure workshop for cohort 3, held in February 2017, offered a chance for cohort 3 fellows to learn from cohort 2 fellows and prepare for the year ahead. By the end of the workshop, fellows had developed a greater understanding of the opportunities available to them, as well as developing networks, skills and enthusiasm that should allow them to make the best use of their fellowship. Initial reports from cohort 3 fellows indicate that they are making good progress. In August 2016 CIRCLE launched a competitive research uptake fund. The first call awarded 19 grants for fellows to undertake activities to engage a variety of stakeholders in their research. The second call was opened in March 2017 and grants will be awarded in May/June 2017. Activities supported by this fund range from meetings and workshops with policymakers to training and development among community stakeholders and research users.

For the CIRCLE institutional strengthening programme (ISP), institutions have set up teams to support the development of the programme at their institution and have undertaken a gap analysis and developed action plans for strengthening their researcher support systems. CIRCLE champions and implementation leads met at the African Academy of Sciences in December 2016 to reflect on progress and achievements to date, and explore next steps. Institutions participating in the in the ISP have already made significant steps in developing their approaches to supporting early career researchers. Across the 31 participating institutions, examples of policy and strategic changes as well as workshops, training and induction programmes have been attributed to the ISP.

CIRCLE organogramCVFs host and home institutions

Circle Logo


ACUAfrican Academy of Sciences UK AID - Department for International Development

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