Ideas Matter Fellowship
Doctoral Research Fellowships for West African Scholars
Ideas Matter Doctoral Fellowships for West Africa:
Investing in the future of scholarship
Award announcements for the most recent competition will be announced in coming weeks.
The West African Research Association (WARA), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, is pleased to announce support for young West African scholars through its Ideas Matter Doctoral Fellowship program. This program reflects our joint commitment to increasing opportunities for emerging West African scholars, people who are transforming ideas into active solutions to the challenges facing not only the region, but also throughout the globe.
In 2018, the Ideas Matter Doctoral Fellowship program will award three doctoral research grants of $4,000 each.
The Ideas Matter Doctoral Fellowship is open to doctoral students under age 35 who are based in West African institutions of higher education, for research on the continent. Priority will be given to research projects focusing on women, technology and entrepreneurship.
West Africa, like other parts of the world, is rich in intellectual resources. Universities are home to scholarly communities of scientists, historians, artists, and social scientists. Young scholars in the region are carrying out innovative, cutting edge research in agriculture, technology, the humanities, and a wide range of other fields. They are poised to deliver innovative solutions to challenges posed by the changing climate, demographic shifts, and cultural transformations that mark our times. The Ideas Matter Doctoral Fellowship program will support the research initiatives of these young scholars.
Ideas Matter 2018 Awardees
For the third year of competition, we received 58 eligible applications from graduate students representing ten West African countries and fields as diverse as Sociology/Anthropology, Bio-Chemistry, Economics, Communication, Civil Engineering and many others. Their research seeks to solve many of the most trenchant health, social and economic challenges facing Africa today. This year, we had an almost half and half representation from Francophone and Anglophone countries in West Africa. The three candidates selected from this rich trove of applications are:
Mrs. Alice Gougbe, Benin (University Félix Houphouet Boigny) The conversation of niébé: Study of the efficacy of biopesticides in farming Niébé plays an important role in the diet of West Africans and the fight against malnutrition. Furthermore, because of niébé’s symbiotic ability to attach to atmospheric nitrogen, inserting niébé in crop rotations provides nitrogen fertilization of future crops, thus allowing it to end hunger for millions of people on the continent of Africa. However, insects continue to ravage this crop in the fields and after harvest, where quasi total loss of the crop occurs in West Africa, notably in Burkina Faso, Bénin, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Mrs. Gougbe seeks to optimize the efficacy of existing organic pesticides (neem oil, topbio, Beauveria bassiana fungus, and the MaviMNPV virus) against the destructive insects of niébé in the fields and in post-harvest storage. She intends to evaluate the results on the aptitude of the conservation of niébé and on the chemicophysical and nutritional quality of niébé.
Ms. Hauwah Kamaluddeen (Nigeria, Kwara State University) Impacts of Microfinance Banks on Women Empowerment: Evidence from Kwara State, Nigeria Women empowerment is one of the key global issues hotly debated in the context of development. However, despite the generally applauded positive impacts of microfinance on poverty reduction and women empowerment in Nigeria and other parts of the world, there has been conflicting results in the literature. This suggests that more studies need to be carried out to provide valuable insights into the ongoing debate so as to ascertain the true impact of microfinance on women empowerment. Ms. Kamaluddeen’s empirical investigation will employ both quantitative and qualitative data which will be analyzed to achieve the objectives of the study. Findings will assist policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders in designing and implementing workable development strategies, schemes and policies for women empowerment and financial inclusion.
Mr. Placide Mahougnan Toklo (Benin, University of Abomey-Calavi) Isolation and purification of the active principles of two anthelmintic plants used in the treatment of parasitic infections of small farm animals in Benin In developing countries such as Benin, the absence of animal health specialists near livestock farmers, the high cost of products for low-income farmers, and the inaccessibility of veterinary products for farmers who are in rural areas, as well as the resistance developed by parasites against these synthetic anthelmintics are all problems that increase the mortality rate of animals and therefore constitute a major obstacle to the development of livestock. Empowering pastoralists and agro-pastoralists is tantamount to setting up other strategies to control these pathologies, hence the use of medicinal plants. In order to promote veterinary traditherapy, which is rich in Benin and is more accessible to the population, researchers have worked on local medicinal plants and identified several plants with anthelmintic properties including Mitragyna inermis and Combretum glutinosum. Mr. Toklo aspires to contribute to the valorization of these two plants by gaining a chemical knowledge of their active principles with a view to producing improved phytomedicines in the long term.
Ideas Matter 2017 Awardees
In this second competition, we received 65 eligible applications from graduate students representing ten West African countries and fields as diverse as biology, agronomy, political science, medicine, public health, chemistry, and pharmacy. Their research seeks to solve many of the most trenchant health and economic challenges facing Africa today. Last year, we received a larger number of Anglophone to francophone applicants. Nearly half of the applicants this time around were young women, a 16% increase from last year, attesting to the growing role of women in science and technology. The three candidates selected from this rich trove of applications were:
Mrs. Isata Kamanda (Sierra Leone, Agricultural Research Institute) Crop Improvement Involving women in participatory selection of biofortified cassava germplasm in Sierra Leone According to the W.H.O., more than 40% of pregnant women, lactating mothers and preschool children have moderate to severe Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), despite efforts the government has made to import other vitamin sources, which have proven ineffective and unsustainable. Cassava (also known as manioc), is a popular food staple in Sierra Leone, and biofortified germplasm offer a potential solution to VAD. Mrs. Kamanda’s research will investigate a means to popularize biofortified cassava by involving rural women in the selection process of favorable biofortified cassava germplasm.
Ms. Amoin Gervaise Kouame (Côte d’Ivoire, University Nangui Abrogoua) Natural Sciences Menopause in Côte d’Ivoire: knowledge of traditional methods of treatment and evaluation of their efficiency Over 22% of women over 40 years of age experience problems from menopause, including cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Current hormonal treatments are expensive and cause negative side effects. Ms. Kouame’s research will determine and test local Ivorian plants rich in phytoestrogen, which is an effective treatment against the health complications of menopause.
Mr. Yao Manu Seshie (Burkina Faso, Fondation 2iE) Electric, Energy, and Industrial Engineering Experimental studies of the solar concentration plant CSP4Africa The ORC turbine machine is utilized in solar plants to transform heat to electricity. Currently, it is only available through a specialized enterprise. It is essential to allowing the utilization of solar energy. Mr, Seshie’s research aims to test different the ORC machine in different dimensions with the goal of creating a smaller, more efficient, and more affordable model that will allow solar energy to be more accessible to lower income populations throughout West Africa. The Ideas Matter Fellowship Program reflects WARA and the Mastercard Foundation’s commitment to increasing opportunities for emerging West African scholars who are transforming ideas into active solutions to the challenges facing the region and the world at large.
Ideas Matter 2016 Awardees
In 2016, its very first year, Ideas Matter received 63 applications from graduate students representing 10 West African countries and fields as diverse as biology, agronomy, political science, medicine, public health, chemistry and pharmacy. While only 17 of the 63 applicants were women, the three applications which rose to the top were all submitted by young women — attesting to the growing role of women in science and technology. Meet the three Ideas Matter fellows for the 2016 competition:
Osemudiamen Oseabhi Anao (Nigeria), University of Benin, is exploring the health effects of a toxic common component of e-waste, capable of acting as an endocrine disruptor, carcinogen and neuro-development toxicant.
Akomoun Blandine Kapko (Benin), Université d’Abomey-Calavi, is developing an inventory of plants used in the traditional treatment of typhoid fever, further working to identify and isolate their active properties.
Gloria Tetteh-Kubi (Ghana), University of Cape Coast, is investigating measures aimed at reducing widespread pesticide use in cowpea cultivation, contributing to poverty reduction, food security and biodiversity conservation.
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.
The Ideas Matter Fellowship Program reflects WARA and the Mastercard Foundation’s commitment to increasing opportunities for emerging West African scholars who are transforming ideas into active solutions to the challenges facing the region and the world at large.