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Advancing social sciences
and humanities
in Africa .

Social and behavioural sciences | Social Science & Humanities (SSH Programme) |POSSIBLE Africa



Social sciences and humanities help in gaining knowledge of society. These underfunded science disciplines in Africa rely mostly on international funding with minimal government funding that translates into little support for institutions dedicated to the field in academic and non-governmental sectors (The State of Social Science in Africa, 2010).

The Preparing Outstanding Social Science Investigators to Benefit Lives and Environments in Africa initiative (POSSIBLE-Africa) is a two-year initiative to fund research to advance the fields of social sciences and humanities in Africa and to enable the production of evidence to inform sustainable development in Africa. The initiative is being implemented with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Postdoctoral fellowships

POSSIBLE-Africa will support up to 25 African postdoctoral fellowships increasing the number of scholars contributing solutions to challenges facing Africa and the world.

The 25 Fellows will receive $65,000 during their two-year postdoctoral fellowships and will be expected to:

  • Conduct research and attend a 12-week training course, which will give POSSIBLE-Africa's researchers opportunities to advance their research knowledge and skills.
  • Spend 40 hours in additional formal learning to address gaps in their research and related skills.
  • Implement at least one policy or public engagement activity.
  • Engage as mentees within a structured initiative, in which they will receive tailored career guidance from a senior mentor through scheduled virtual sessions.
  • Attend and present their research in monthly virtual feedback series.
  • Produce and submit a minimum of two lead-authored, short form scientific outputs (e.g., book chapter or journal article) to a reputable publisher (journal or book).
  • Contribute to curriculum development activities that use the skills, knowledge and/or findings generated through the fellowship.
  • Develop and submit a new research grant application which if funded, will enable them to build on the research conducted through the POSSIBLE-Africa fellowship.


DELTAS Africa funds consortia aligned to four strategic areas of scientific quality; research leadership; research manage, culture & infrastructure; and scientific citizenship.

The DELTAS Africa initiative is designed to establish excellent research networks that will recruit, train and mentor a globally competitive critical mass of researchers who will lead locally relevant and high-quality research to influence health science, policy and practice in Africa.

DELTAS Africa II continues to foster intra-Africa collaboration, improve research environments and train researchers to conduct relevant, locally contextualized studies that advance our knowledge on key research and development priority gaps including: discovery, translational, implementation and operational sciences for:

  • Infectious diseases, such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis
  • Neglected tropical diseases and ONE Health
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Mental health and neurosciences
  • Multidisciplinary nexus of health and climate
  • Social sciences and humanities
  • Climate change and planetary health
  • Anti-microbial resistance
  • Accidents, injury, disability and snake bite
  • Clinical research
  • Implementation research, health systems research, public health research

Our Guiding Principles:
  • Long-term horizon: DELTAS Africa acknowledges and is committed to the realities that raising scientific productivity and quality and building a critical mass in leadership is inherently long term.
  • Hub-and-spoke model: All DELTAS Africa initiatives are led by initiative Directors based in an African institution, who construct multi-country research and training consortia, using a hub-and-spoke model of initiative design and delivery which has enabled an increased R&D footprint on the African continent and strengthened south-to-south and intra-African collaborations. The DELTAS Africa model is best imagined as a hub and spoke arrangement in which a lead institution(hub) enters collaboration with other institutions in other countries (spokes) which may be partners or collaborators to jointly apply for large research grants and implement long-term scientific research initiatives.
  • Research alignment to country and regional needs: DELTAS Africa initiatives are aligned to country and regional needs, which have been identified through wide stakeholder and community engagement.
  • Diversity and inclusion in consortia leadership and recruitment of trainees: Recruitment of staff and students is tracked to assess gender parity and equity.
  • Balancing excellence with equity in consortia formation and recruitment of trainees: Institutions that are generally recognised as strong or high performing research institutions partner with institutions across countries or regions that are generally perceived as not being strong in research to enable the building of capacity, institutional strengthening and improvement of research environment and productivity that will spread excellence across the continent.
  • Value for Money: DELTAS Africa grantees mainstream value for money principles throughout the initiative life cycle to ensure effectiveness and efficiency
DELTAS Africa Strategic Areas
  • Enhanced scientific quality: DELTAS Africa produces world-class scientific research that addresses African health and research priorities through scientific discourse and collaborative supervision by promoting collaborations with well-resourced universities, research institutions and think-tanks to strengthen capacity
  • Strengthened research leadership capacities: To strengthen scientific research training and build career pathways for scientific researchers, DELTAS Africa focuses on the tertiary and postgraduate training of science students and professionals along a defined career pathway. Training offered by DELTAS Africa initiatives is designed to provide individuals at all career stages with the academic support and research facilities they need to develop into world-class researchers
  • Strengthened research systems: To cultivate professional environments to manage and support scientific research. This recognises that developing and supporting research requires that researchers have access to skilled administrative support and adequate resources to compete at a global level; and that creating supportive, sustainable environments is crucial to developing research capacity
  • Enhanced scientific citizenship / societal engagement: Foster mentorship, leadership and equitable collaboration in science, and engagement with public and policy stakeholders. DELTAS Africa recognises that for research to achieve real impact it needs to be communicated to policymakers and the public. Communicating research findings to policymakers will ensure that the findings inform policy. At the same time, public engagement is also key to raise public awareness and interest in science, increase the uptake of new health policies and treatments, and strengthen relationships with local communities.

These four strategic areas are recognised as necessary for strengthening, sustaining, attracting, and retaining talent and excellence in research.