CIRCLE programme

The Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) programme works to strengthen climate change research within sub-Saharan Africa through an innovative dual approach.

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The CIRCLE programme works to strengthen climate change research within sub-Saharan Africa through an innovative dual approach: supporting individual academics to undertake research, while also working with universities to improve their capacity to support and promote quality research.

By doing this, CIRCLE enables African researchers to develop relevant local solutions and improve research uptake, which directly contributes to local, national and regional policy agendas.

CIRCLE was delivered with support from our delivery partners: The African Academy of Sciences, Vitae, and the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich.

This project is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

CIRCLE Visiting Fellowships

The CIRCLE Visiting Fellowships supported early career researchers to spend 12 months at another institution to further develop their research and expertise on the impact of climate change across Africa. Each Fellow was supported by a mentor at their home institution, a supervisor at their host institution and a specialist advisor at a third institution.

Between 2015 - 2017, 100 fellowships were awarded to 39 master’s-qualified researchers and 61 PhD-qualified researchers – with exactly 50% of awards made to female academics.

Fellows research a range of multidisciplinary issues including: water, energy, aquaculture, fisheries and marine biology, agricultural science, environment and forests, rural livelihoods and socioeconomic aspects of agriculture, and other social sciences.

The Fellowships were led by The African Academy of Sciences (AAS). NRI co-ordinated the specialist advisor support function and provided quality assurance for the Fellowships. Vitae provided training on professional development planning for all Fellows.

Institutional Strengthening Programme (ISP)

The Institutional Strengthening Programme (ISP) aims to enhance professional development support for early career academic staff and develop stronger institutional frameworks for supporting research, both in general and with reference to climate change. 

The ISP is managed by the ACU in partnership with Vitae, and all training is underpinned with Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework ©.

Independent evaluation 

In 2017, an independent review was commissioned to assess how effective CIRCLE had been in achieving it’s objectives. You can download the Independent Review of CIRCLE Final Report for an in-depth understanding of the programme achievements, lessons, and recommendations.

In 2021, an independent review specifically on the institutional strengthening components of CIRCLE was conducted by Capacity Development International. You can download the Evaluation Report to discover findings from the evaluation and recommendations for future institutional research capacity strengthening programmes.


If you have any questions, please email

Women of CIRCLE

Read about the inspiring female researchers of the CIRCLE programme who have empowered local communities through their work.

Doris Akachukwu with stakeholders in Imo State