Building Research Capacity in Early Career Researchers: Insights from an International Climate Research Programme

Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change and most countries are already experiencing its impacts. There is a strong need to generate improved climate information for Africa and apply this information to build resilience. One of the key long-term opportunities to improve Africa’s climate resilience is investment in building the capacity of African researchers. Recognising this need, the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) research programme aimed to develop greater capacity within the scientific community, particularly among African Early Career Researchers (ECRs), to deliver fundamental and applied research while promoting multidisciplinary, international collaboration. Making capacity development of ECRs an explicit aim of a larger research programme presented new challenges and opportunities, and ultimately delivered significant additional impact. This publication summarises learning from FCFA’s scientific capacity development programme of activities, which ran from 2015 to 2019. It provides an overview of the support provided to ECRs and the main outcomes and learning from implementing the programme. The findings presented here capture feedback from 99 ECRs, their supervisors and FCFA programme coordinators over a period of three years. It provides recommendations for realising the opportunities that international, multi-consortia research programmes present for building the capacity of ECRs.