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Call for proposals: Establishing research chairs on forced displacement in North and West Africa

Launch date: July 19, 2022

Deadline for submission: October 14, 2022 (4 pm EDT)

IDRC is pleased to announce a call for proposals to establish research chairs working on issues of forced displacement in two regions: North and West Africa

















Close to 80 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, economic hardship, climate change and prolonged instances of political instability. Eighty percent of the world’s forcibly displaced are hosted in countries in the Global South, and women and children bear the brunt of forced displacement.

While the vast majority of forcibly displaced people live in the Global South, almost all of the research that influences policy and practice originates from researchers based in the Global North. Because of this disparity, national and local knowledge about forced displacement is underused.

To help address this gap, IDRC is launching this call for proposals to localize and institutionalize research on forced displacement in the Global South by establishing research chairs on forced displacement at universities in North and West Africa. The aim is to:

  • empower institutions in these regions to define research agendas;
  • lead on practical, gender-transformative solutions that promote the social, economic, political and health rights of forcibly displaced persons and host communities; and
  • amplify the voices and perspectives of forcibly displaced persons and host communities in local, national, regional, and global arenas.

The newly established research chairs will:

  • conduct research
  • mentor and supervise early-career scholars
  • work with relevant stakeholders to conduct outreach with communities, refugee-led initiatives and civil society
  • advocate with policy stakeholders at the local, national, regional and global levels

More specifically, research chairs are intended to:

  • commit to excellence in research and teaching on forced displacement, including mentoring and supervising early-career scholars;
  • be demand-driven and responsive and reflect specific thematic and sectoral as well as sub-national, national and regional priorities and capacities;
  • complement IDRC strategic priorities;
  • ensure an interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral and gender-transformative approach to studying forced displacement;
  • ensure a strong linkage with community research, policy influence and programming initiatives, including refugee-led responses;
  • ensure that the research conducted has a strong connection to policy processes — from the local level to national, regional and global debates; and
  • collaborate with research chairs in other regions, including those supported by IDRC in the Middle East, East Africa, Central and South America, and South and Southeast Asia, and to reinforce the collective impact of localized knowledge production on forced displacement.

A Canadian Crown corporation, IDRC funds research in developing countries to create lasting change on a large scale. IDRC supports local organizations in the Global South to generate evidence relevant in their contexts. We provide financial resources, advice and training to researchers in developing countries to help them find solutions to local problems and to encourage knowledge sharing with policymakers, researchers and communities.   

IDRC funds research that supports forcibly displaced populations as well as the communities and governments that host them. Our work aims to protect the rights of forcibly displaced persons, promote their access to livelihoods, improve health systems and outcomes, increase social cohesion and counter misinformation. We aim to strengthen host-country capacity to identify and implement inclusive and sustainable solutions to these challenges.


IDRC plans to support the establishment of up to four research chairs for a period of four to five years. Two chairs will be established at universities in North Africa and two chairs at universities in West Africa. Grants of up to CAD$600,000 will be issued per university. The project duration will be an estimated 60 months, including all research activities and final reporting.

Funding will cover the salary of the research chair, research expenses and an operational budget. To strengthen the impact of the research chairs, IDRC expects cash and in-kind contributions from the selected universities amounting to between 20% and 30% of the grant and covering the three components of the budget over the duration of the funding. Applicants are encouraged to provide evidence of, or plans to attract, additional research funding and human capital from other national and international funders and donors to supplement the IDRC funding.

IDRC’s obligations herein are subject to sufficient funds being made available to IDRC by the Parliament of Canada or under a donor partnership agreement with a particular external funder.


It is expected that the thematic focus of the research chairs will reflect specific thematic and sectoral areas identified on the basis of local, national and regional priorities and capacities. These areas and priorities are expected to be multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral and focus on such themes as health, education, inclusive governance and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals in contexts of forced displacement, and as presented in IDRC’s Strategy 2030. Proposals that address interconnections between these themes are encouraged.

Critically important across these intersecting themes are commitments to:

  • support robust gender analysis and gender-transformative approaches
  • support interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral approaches
  • promote localized agenda-setting and the amplification of local perspectives, including refugee voices, in local, national, regional and global fora
  • link humanitarian and development approaches in contexts of displacement

In identifying the thematic entry point(s) for the research chair, proposals should also present concrete ways to implement such approaches within the host university and throughout the research chair’s work. Proposals should present initial ideas about how research chairs will develop and strengthen a community of practice by linking research to host and forcibly displaced communities and about how to connect the chair’s work to policy processes at the local, national and global levels. 

More specifically, it is envisaged that the research chairs will:

  • support timely, innovative research in contexts of forced displacement that scales up learning from best practices to local, national, regional and global levels and provides evidenced-based policy recommendations;
  • identify and target from the outset potential research users and ensure that recommendations and outputs are designed to be accessible and relevant to these groups;
  • promote policy dialogues and inform public debates that help shape discourses on forced displacement at local, national, regional and global levels based on local knowledge and practice, and that help define future research agendas;
  • use their platforms and partner with others to amplify local voices, including those of forcibly displaced communities, in the design and implementation of sustainable and gender-transformative solutions;
  • identify and implement sustainability strategies for the continuation of the research chairs beyond initial funding;
  • mentor and supervise early-career scholars and scholars in forced displacement studies; and
  • engage with an emerging network of research chairs established in the other regions by collaborating and exchanging shared learning agendas.

IDRC will partner with the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN) at Carleton University to support coordination, regular exchanges and mutual learning among research chairs. Establishing connections between the chairs aims to bring greater visibility to the knowledge produced while fostering linkages and mutual learning between universities working on issues of forced displacement and amplifying the perspectives of the research chairs in policy discussions at the global level.

#researchethicsRESEARCH ETHICS  

IDRC requires that research involving human subjects be carried out in accordance with the highest ethical standards possible. When relevant, grantees will need to obtain approval from an official institutional or national research ethics body. This process needs to be specified in the proposal. Where obtaining national ethics approval is not possible, the application needs to propose mechanisms for setting up an ethics review committee for the planned research activities and conform with IDRC ethics and security protocols.


Applications must describe how the cross-cutting considerations presented below will be integrated into the design and implementation of the proposed research chair. While it may not be possible to address all considerations in the same depth, they will be considered in the selection process.

Inclusion and equality: IDRC strives for equality in all aspects of its work.  We support the generation of knowledge — including by individuals from diverse genders, communities, histories, legal status and experiences — that tackles the systems that perpetuate inequalities based on identity.  

Inequalities exist across multiple and intersecting categories of identity, including, but not limited to: gender, sexuality, age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion and ability. Taking an intersectional approach to equality recognizes these differences and understands diversity as central to advancing equality. Given that gender inequality is a significant barrier across all dimensions of diversity, IDRC invests specific efforts in ensuring its work promotes gender equality. For additional background, please see IDRC’s Equality Statement

In line with IDRC’s Equality Statement, proposals should demonstrate how they will promote diversity and inclusion and adopt an intersectional approach with respect to: 

  • the selection of the research chair
  • the research design

Capacity building: Research chair proposals should combine research with capacity building of early-career researchers, including researchers from forcibly displaced communities, civil society organizations and the community. Proposals should also include efforts to reinforce links between these groups.

Southern leadership: IDRC’s mandate is to promote inclusive development in the Global South. Research chair positions should be filled by researchers from the Global South.

Multisectoral collaboration: The applicant is required to show identified themes and areas of work that reflect the inter-connectedness of experiences of displaced populations and a level of collaboration among sectors and disciplines that will enable the applicant to understand and address these experiences.


Applicants will need to detail the following:

  • the thematic area of focus and research priorities and how this links to institutional, local, national and regional research and policy priorities
  • the process of designing the research chair position and information about the hosting department within the host university
  • initial ideas about activities to be carried out, including research, mentoring, outreach to communities, amplifying local perspectives, promoting policy dialogues and connecting to local, national, regional and global policy processes
  • the process for selecting and appointing the research chair — including the required profile for a research chair, any promising candidates that have been identified, and evidence that an adequate pool of qualified candidates can be identified — to be conducted in close coordination with IDRC
  • strategies for ensuring sustainability of the research chair beyond the granting period


  • Following the launch of the call for proposals, IDRC will organize an information session to address any queries by potential applicants. This will take place on July 28, 2022, at 8 am EDT. Please join the session here
  • Following selection of the universities that will host the research chairs (see selection process below), IDRC will work with the selected universities to support the preparation of the full, finalized proposal, including budget development.
  • IDRC will coordinate with the selected university and advertise the positions for research chairs within its own networks.
  • IDRC will receive and approve a workplan from the research chair as well as regular technical reports describing the progress of the work and plans for the next period.

The university

  • The selected university will be required to revise its proposal and budget to account for the comments of the IDRC Selection Committee and to respond to an IDRC budget review.
  • Following the finalization of the budget and proposal and leading up to the appointment of the chair, the university will launch a selection process for the research chair position in close coordination with IDRC.
  • The university will also facilitate the work of the research chair to ensure interdisciplinary and cross-departmental work is promoted.
  • It will support the research chair in efforts to ensure sustainability of the position beyond the funding from IDRC. It will prepare regular financial reports to IDRC.

The appointed research chair

  • Three months after their appointment, the chair will be responsible for submitting a workplan to IDRC for approval, including proposed activities in the three areas of focus: research, community outreach, and policy outreach. The chair will lead on these three axes of focus.
  • The chair will regularly coordinate with other IDRC-funded research chairs to strengthen coordination and mutual learning and to engage in possible joint activities, with support from LERRN at Carleton University.
  • The chair will regularly provide technical progress reports to IDRC and engage with IDRC in regional and global fora.
  • The chair will design a process to ensure the long-term sustainability of the position of chair beyond the IDRC funding.


The primary considerations in selecting projects will be the scientific merit of the research proposal and its potential for development impact, including capacity building. However, the selection of projects may also be influenced by operational considerations, e.g., Canadian law; knowledge of research settings; ability to monitor research activities; and conditions that may make it difficult, costly, dangerous or onerous for IDRC to carry out its objectives or exercise proper stewardship of its resources. 

IDRC funds research in many countries in the Global South but the Centre is bound by Canadian law, which may restrict or prohibit funding for research and organizations in specific countries and/or regions. For example, if the law limits banking transactions by Canadian financial institutions in a particular country, IDRC will not undertake any form of programming in the country.  

This call is targeted to universities in low- and middle-income countries in North and West Africa with a strong track record in research as well as community and policy outreach.

For the purposes of this call, the eligible countries in West Africa are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The eligible countries in North Africa are: Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. Please consult our Frequently Asked Questions document for full eligibility criteria.

We consider applicant organizations  to be those that have:

  • legal corporate registration in an eligible country — IDRC enters into agreements with legal entities only
  • demonstrated institutional capacity to host a research chair with a focus on forced displacement
  • demonstrated institutional expertise and commitment to advancing knowledge on forced displacement
  • commitment to gender equality, inclusion and equity

Only proposals that meet the eligibility criteria above will be considered. 





Percentage of score

Quality of proposed research program and thematic entry point(s)

Overall clarity of the proposal, the objectives and key research questions; justification for the choice of the thematic entry point(s), including alignment with IDRC strategic priorities; and justification for the choice of the hosting department within the university, as well as plans for managing and mitigating research ethics and other risks.




Quality of the planned university call

The process by which the university proposes to launch the call to appoint a research chair, starting with the internal process by which the call was designed, the planned process for selecting the chair, selection criteria and planned profile for the research chair.




Quality of the institutional environment

The institutional environment, including demonstrated expertise in research, teaching and engagement on forced displacement; institutional commitment to the research chair; institutional links between different academic departments; and fit with the institution’s strategic research plan. The institutional environment includes plans to secure cash or in-kind contributions from the host institution.




Commitment to mentoring early-career scholars

How the research chair is proposed to support, mentor and supervise early-career scholars and students in the study of forced displacement. The university should demonstrate the existence of graduate program(s) relevant to the study of forced displacement from which students will be recruited.




Commitment to gender equality, equity, diversity, inclusion and multi-disciplinarity

This includes a presentation of details, including selection criteria, on how commitment to gender diversity and inclusion will be integrated into the selection process. It also refers to the commitment to include a gender and inclusion perspective into the proposed thematic focus for the research chair. 




Commitment to community and civil society outreach

Initial thoughts on how the research chair will play the role of promoting a strong connection between the university, community, and civil society research and initiatives on forced displacement issues and how these three different spheres will interact to create a sustainable community of practice facilitated by the research chair. This also includes identifying ways to amplify the voices of the forcibly displaced in various policy fora.




Commitment to engaging in policy processes and leadership

Initial thoughts on how the research chair aims to impact policy processes at the local, national, regional and global levels, including through regular and ongoing engagement with policy stakeholders.




Sustainability of the proposed research chair


This includes the university’s vision for sustainability of the research chair beyond the IDRC funding. 




The proposals will be reviewed by a committee that includes IDRC staff as well as external reviewers.


Submission and selection process

Launch call: July 19, 2022

Information session: July 28, 2022, at 8 am EDT

Deadline for submission: October 14, 2022, at 4 pm EDT

Successful universities informed: Last week of November 2022

Finalization of grant for successful candidates

Candidates will be invited to submit a full Application for an IDRC Research Grant and budget, which must meet the technical and administrative requirements of IDRC. Please note that the technical selection of a proposal does not guarantee that it will be funded by IDRC. For further information on administrative requirements, please see How to apply for an IDRC research grant.

Prior to finalizing a grant agreement, IDRC reserves the right to request any revisions to the submitted proposal and budget. A revised proposal and budget with the necessary revisions must be returned in a timely manner to IDRC.

Any selected proponents shall be required to sign IDRC’s standard grant agreement, as amended by IDRC from time to time. Please refer to IDRC’s General Terms and Conditions in a Grant Agreement. The grant agreement will provide a schedule for submitting interim and final technical and financial reports.

IDRC reserves the right to cancel the process at any time without prior notice and/or at its discretion to grant all or none of the awards under this process. 

Special considerations: country procedures

In some cases, IDRC has scientific and technical cooperation agreements with the governments of the countries where we support projects. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes to be followed to comply with such agreements. Otherwise, grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. This procedure is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction.

An IDRC grant administration representative will advise the selected applicant if any country procedures need to be followed. A grant agreement will only be issued if country clearance(s) is/are obtained beforehand. In cases where the recipient will manage sub-grantees, the country requirements that apply to sub-grantees are also documented in the grant agreement. It becomes the responsibility of the IDRC grantee to ensure that sub-grantees meet these requirements.


  • Proposals must be submitted no later than 4 pm EDT on October 14, 2022. 
  • Only one submission per institution will be accepted.
  • Applications may be submitted in English or French.
  • Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. 

Please note: This application requires a significant investment of time and the field of proponents is expected to be quite competitive. Organizations are encouraged to take these elements into consideration when deciding to prepare and apply. 

Applications received before the deadline and deemed by IDRC to be compliant with the requirements set out in this call for proposals will be evaluated in accordance with the process outlined herein.

Applications should be submitted via IDRC’s grant application system: Applications submitted via email will not be accepted without prior approval by IDRC.

As part of the online submission in the first stage, applicants are required to complete an application form and to upload the following documents:

  • signed cover letter by the president of the university
  • budget

Other documents in support of the application 


Any enquiries related to the call and application process should be sent by email to To provide a response before the call deadline, IDRC must receive enquiries before September 9, 2022.

Enquiries that affect all applicants and that we receive on or before the above-mentioned deadline will be added to the Frequently Asked Questions with IDRC’s responses. We will not reveal the source of the enquiries.


In submitting an application, the applicant must avoid any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest and will declare to IDRC any such conflict of interest. If any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest cannot be resolved to IDRC’s satisfaction, IDRC has the right to immediately reject the applicant from consideration. 


By way of submitting a proposal under this open call for grants, the applicant consents to the disclosure of the proposal documents to reviewers involved in the selection process, both within IDRC and externally. If selected for funding, the applicants further consent to the disclosure of their name, the name of the lead researcher and the title of the proposed project in any announcement of selected proposals.

All personal information collected by IDRC about grant, scholarship, and fellowship applicants is used to review applications, to administer and monitor awards, and to promote and support international development research in Canada and in the regions where IDRC operates. Consistent with these purposes, applicants should expect that information collected by IDRC may come to be used and disclosed in IDRC-supported activities. 

As a Canadian Crown corporation, IDRC is subject to Canada’s Access to Information Act. Consequently, any submissions in response to this call for proposals will be held by IDRC in a manner consistent with the Access to Information Act, including IDRC's obligations to disclose documents requested by members of the public.


  1. Applicants must be committed to publishing research findings in the public domain in accordance with IDRC’s Open Access Policy.
  1. IDRC reserves the right to reject proposals based on relevant policy or legal considerations.  
  1. After an institutional assessment of an applicant’s organization is performed, IDRC reserves the right to require the applicant’s organization to partner with another institution as a condition of receiving the grant.