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[ABIDIJAN] A new wave of research grants for young researchers in Côte-d'Ivoire will be handed out in June, in response to a call for projects from the Programme of Strategic Support to Scientific Research (PASRES).

The grants are intended to support young researchers, who often struggle to raise enough money to complete research projects.

PASRES was set up in 2008, with funds from the Ivorian-Swiss Fund for Economic and Social Development (FISDES)as part of efforts by the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research to create a national fund for scientific and technological research.

It aims to help young researchers to propose research projects in the fields related to development, such as public health, environment, biodiversity, agriculture, food security and energy.

The executive secretary of the programme, Sangaré Yaya, said grant recipients would need to demonstrate that they would have "a beneficial impact on the struggle against poverty and sustainable development in Côte-d'Ivoire."

The grant programme funded 12 young researchers last year. This year, the scientific selection committee expects to award 15 projects following a review of submitted proposals at the end of June. Each project will receive 15 million CFA (US$13,000).

Sangaré told SciDev.Net that young researchers face other challenges in securing funding, including a lack of experience in writing grant proposals.

He said national research financing institutions tended to favour more experienced or well-known researchers.

PASRES is a "very good opportunity" for young Ivorian researchers, said Hervé Koutouan, a lecturer and a researcher at the University of Abidjan.

"It is of a great help in the training of young researchers to ensure an influx of a new generation to research centres and public universities," Koutouan told SciDev.Net.

Côte-d'Ivoire has around 1,300 researchers working in the higher education sector and the government — most of them based at the National Centre of Agronomic Research (CNRA) which also absorbs around three quarters of R&D expenditure, according to the 2010 UNESCO Science Report. Only 16 per cent of these researchers are women.

In 2008, the country's researchers produced 171 scientific publications, mostly in the fields of clinical medicine, biology and biomedical sciences, but international collaboration was higher; they co-authored 789 papers with colleagues abroad, the report said.

Link to UNESCO Science Report 2010 [14MB]