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The European Commission launched a website today (12 June) to help African scientists take part in water research funded by the European Union.

"This is very much needed," says dryland researcher Coleen Vogel, from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. "Many African researchers, particularly young ones and those not linked into any research networks, will not know of funding sources and opportunities."

The website, www.africanwater.net, includes step-by-step guides on how to apply to take part in projects funded under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

The website will regularly publish news about calls for research proposals and users will be able to subscribe to an email news bulletin. The site also details training intended to give researchers confidence when writing proposals. As part of the project, the Water Research Commission of South Africa will run courses on how to successfully apply for FP7 money.

The project is coordinated by the UK-based Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Project manager Helen Houghton-Carr says the website will make European and African researchers more aware of each other's potential.

"As well as providing information, the website will contribute to establishing an internationally connected African network of water-related researchers," says Houghton-Carr.

She told SciDev.Net that, depending on demand, the website might provide a 'members area' for researchers to post news about their research activities.

The Water Research Commission of South Africa will probably take overall control of the project in 2008.

A similar project, called the European-South African Science and Technology Advancement Programme (ESASTAP), already exists in South Africa, telling researchers about European funding opportunities across all science and technology subjects.

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