Graduate Research Awards on Climate Change and Water, IDRC Canada

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IDRC’s Graduate Research Awards on Climate Change and Water

Deadline: Thursday, September 1, 2011 (before 4:00 p.m. Ottawa time)
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. The result is innovative, lasting local solutions that aim to bring choice and change to those who need it most.

IDRC’s Climate Change and Water Program (CCW) helps developing-country researchers understand how climate change affects water resources and find ways to improve the ability of citizens and governments to adapt to the changing environment.
CCW’s Adaptation H2O Graduate Research Awards aim to build research capacity by providing funding to graduate students working on subjects related to climate change and water.

We offer two types of awards:
1) For developing-country graduate students: A maximum of seven awards, each with a maximum value of CA$15,000, are available in 2011-2012. The award covers field work expenses for graduate students who are citizens of a developing country and who are enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program at a Canadian or developing-country university.

2) For Canadian doctoral students: Up to two awards, each worth a maximum of CA$15,000, are also available to cover field work expenses of Canadian citizens (or permanent residents of Canada) enrolled in a doctoral program at a Canadian university.
These awards cover the field work period, which must be 3 to 12 months in duration. The awards are meant to cover research expenses only and not university tuition or affiliated fees.


Eligible themes
Proposals must address one or more of the following themes:

1) Economic analysis related to climate change adaptation
Climate change is likely to undermine the progress that many developing countries have achieved in several areas, notably agriculture and the availability of water. Climate change exacerbates extreme weather events such as flooding and drought, exposing local people to various degrees of vulnerability. We are seeking proposals that explore economic incentives for adapting to climate change, and the costs and benefits associated with different adaptation strategies.

2) Gender analysis of adaptation strategies
The factors that increase women’s vulnerability to climate change in developing countries are largely under-researched. To address this gap, research must go beyond the simple demonstration of the gender-specific impacts of climate change. It must analyze gender inequalities to examine how climate change exacerbates these disparities. We are seeking proposals that explore the opportunities posed by adaptation strategies to address gender differentials through practical and empowering solutions.

3) Use of information and communication technologies and spatial decision-support systems for adaptation
Information and communication technologies and spatial decision-support systems have the potential to enhance resilience and strengthen the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities to climate change. For example, Geographic Information Systems can be a useful tool for evaluating risks and managing floods, droughts, and sea-level rise. When communities are involved in their use, these technologies can contribute to the development of adaptation solutions. We are seeking proposals that explore how information systems, knowledge management, and/or spatial decision-support systems facilitate improvements in water management and adaptive capacity in the face of a changing climate.

4) The role of clean energy in water provision
Renewable energy technologies are an asset in developing countries coping with climate change and energy shortages. Given the central role energy plays in providing safe and sufficient water supplies, we are seeking proposals that explore how renewable energy can increase the availability and quality of water and support local adaptation to climate change.

5) Adapting to climate change in vulnerable coastal communities
The long-term sustainability of coastal populations depends on healthy coastal ecosystems, but these systems are being degraded at an unprecedented rate worldwide. Climate change poses an additional risk to already vulnerable ecosystems, and coastal communities must now find ways to deal with the combined effects of environmental degradation and unpredictable climate change. Anticipated impacts include, but are not limited to: sea level rise, coastal erosion, and saltwater intrusion into coastal lagoons and groundwater supplies. We welcome proposals that explore the linkages between climate change, ecosystem degradation, and poverty, and that explore ways of strengthening the ability of coastal communities to prepare for, and recovery quickly from, water-related impacts of climate change.

Please note that we encourage research proposals that incorporate social as well as gender analysis.

To be eligible for an award, applicants must meet the following criteria, in addition to any other conditions set out in this call for proposals:

  • Applications will ONLY be accepted in English or French.
  • APPLICANTS FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: must be citizens of a developing country and be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program at a Canadian or developing-country university.
  • CANADIAN APPLICANTS: must be Canadian citizens (or permanent residents of Canada) and be enrolled in a doctoral program at a Canadian university). Canadian master’s students are not eligible.
  • The proposed field work must take place in a developing country and start no later than December 31, 2012. The applicant’s research supervisor must provide training and supervision in the field for the duration of the award period.
  • Applicants must have completed all the required course work for their program of study before receiving the award. An exception will be granted where a university requires one or two courses to be completd after the field research.
  • All doctoral applicants must have successfully passed comprehensive written and oral examinations for the academic program in which they are enrolled before receiving the award.
  • All applicants must be affiliated with one reputable non-academic institution (national/international organization, institute, or NGO) in the developing country in which the proposed research will take place. This will provide the participant with better access to scientific knowledge and networking possibilities, and increase the likelihood that the supported research will contribute to useful local interventions.
  • All applicants must submit a budget.
  • The application must include all the required documents.


The research proposal must be no more than seven (7) pages single spaced, be supplied in PDF format, and contain only the following documents, submitted in the order presented here:
1) Cover page (1 page): Contains theresearch title, the name of the author, and date of submission.
2) Research description (4 pages): Single-spaced, with 2.5 cm margins and submitted in Times New Roman 12 pt font.
The research description must include the following:

  • Project title: Provide a title that is concise and meaningful, and includes the name of the city and country where the intended research will be carried out.
  • Problem and justification: State the problem or issue to be addressed in relation to the particular development context in which your research project will take place. Identify the knowledge gaps that your research will address in order to contribute to the advancement of knowledge.
  • Objective: Provide a clear and concise description of what you plan to achieve over the course of the project. Objectives should be concrete and measurable.
  • Literature review: Demonstrate that you are familiar with, and have considered, what is currently known about the issue addressed by your research.
  • Research questions: Break down your research problem into specific research questions you will address.
  • Theoretical approach or framework: Based on your knowledge of the literature, describe, if appropriate, the theoretical approach that helped you formulate your hypothesis.
  • Hypothesis: Present your hypothesis.
  • Methodology: Give specific examples of methods and techniques you plan to apply or develop in order to test your hypothesis. Realistically assess the data available from secondary sources and the data you will need to generate from primary sources. Discuss the limitations the data may present and how you will deal with this. Suggest variables as well as data collection, processing, and analysis techniques that you plan to apply to test your working hypothesis.
  • Feasibility: Discuss any possible obstacles to the execution of the research and to the eventual use of the results and how you intend to address them. Identify any ethical questions related to the proposed project.
  • Expected results and impacts: Describe the anticipated results and their potential use. Identify the target beneficiaries and explain how the results may affect them.

3) Bibliography (1 page): Proposals must include relevant in-text citations as well as references.
4) Field schedule (1 page): Proposals must indicate the timeframe (Gantt chart) of planned activities.

Evaluation process
If your application meets the eligibility criteria, it will be pre-screened by IDRC staff. The selected proposals will be forwarded to at least two external evaluators for further assessment. Each reviewer will rank the proposals according to the evaluation criteria listed below, using a point system.

Each criteria will be assessed on a scale from 1 to 3 (3 = good, 2 = satisfactory, and 1 = poor). The maximum total score is 45. After evaluating the proposals, the reviewers will classify them into one of the following three categories: A (recommended), B (acceptable with some modifications), and C (rejected). Based on the evaluators’ reviews, IDRC will make the final decision as to which proposals will be selected for funding.

Evaluation criteria

Researcher capability (6 pts):

  • The student’s academic training suggests sound and thorough knowledge of at least one of the five eligible themes. (3 pts)
  • The application demonstrates that the student has prior experience and/or the skills needed to deliver the research project. (3 pts)

Relevance (6 pts):

  • The development problem or issue to be addressed and the project goal/purpose support the CCW main goal of helping the world’s more vulnerable people adapt to water-related impacts of climate change in developing countries. Specifically, the proposal addresses at least one of the five Adaptation H2O themes. (3pts)
  • The proposed research clearly identifies a gap in the knowledge base and explores or introduces a new idea or concept. (3pts)

Results and impact (12pts):

  • Results and potential uses of the project are clearly identified. (3pts)
  • There is a clear and logical relationship between the proposed goals, objectives, activities, and intended results. (3pts)
  • Targeted beneficiaries are clearly identified. (3pts)
  • Possible long-term impact on participants, the student and/or the host institution are considered. (3pts)

Approach and methodology (12pts):

  • The theoretical approach and/or the hypothesis are clearly explained. (3pts)
  • Specific methods and techniques to be used to test the project hypothesis are clearly identified. Secondary and primary data collection required, and their limitations, are clearly assessed. (3pts)
  • The research methodology incorporates a social as well as a gender analysis. (3pts)
  • The proposal suggests methodology that is innovative or creative. (3pts)

Feasibility (3pts):

  • Challenges in project implementation (including knowledge of the local language) and eventual use of results are manageable and solutions to them are presented. (3pts)

Partnerships (3pts):

  • The proposal identifies a reputable non-academic institution. A clear link exists between the research topic and the institution. (3pts)

Budget and schedule (6pts):

  • The proposed total budget is realistic in relation to the proposed activities and desired results. (3pts)
  • The application includes a realistic amount of time proposed for each phase of research, with a maximum of 12 months for the entire project. (3pts)

Research dissemination

  • Award holders will be required to submit a fieldwork report two weeks after the end of their field work. IDRC will provide guidelines for the preparation of this report.
  • Award holders will be required to submit a report in the form of a scientific paper and an evaluation form three months after the end of their field work.
  • In the event that award holders fail to submit either of these reports, they will not receive the final instalment of the research award.
  • Award holders who submit the best scientific papers will be invited to participate in a workshop at an international conference (to take place in 2014-2015), where they will have the opportunity to present and discuss their results with peers (including Adaptation H2O award holders) and other relevant stakeholders. Following the workshop, selected papers will be published in a special issue of a scientific journal and could be considered for further publication by IDRC.

Applicants who have unsuccessfully sought a graduate research award from the Climate Change and Water program and wish to resubmit the same or similar project proposal must obtain and integrate the comments from the evaluators of the first application. They must explain in the Letter of Intent the changes that have been made to the research proposal since the first application and specify where to find the changes in the proposal.


  • To be considered complete, applications must include all the required documents.
  • ONLY complete applications that are received on time will be considered.
  • Applications will ONLY be accepted in English or French.

Please make sure that the documents are arranged in the following order:
1) Letter of intent (including complete name, mailing and e-mail addresses)
a. In this letter, briefly present yourself and describe your motivation for your research.
b. Applicants re-applying with the same or similar project proposal must have integrated the comments from the evaluators of the first application. They must explain in the Letter of Intent the changes that have been made to the research proposal since the first application and specify where to find the changes in the proposal.

2) Application form

3) Research proposal (maximum of 7 pages single-spaced)

4) Budget
Please fill the budget requested in the application form.

5) Support letter from the research supervisor
The letter must be signed by your supervisor. If the letter is scanned, please ensure that it contains your supervisor’s signature and is in PDF format.

6) Support letter from the non-academic institution

7) Transcripts
We require transcripts (original or notarized/certified copies) of your most recently completed degree program AND of your current program, even if it is not completed You can also provide an original letter from your last university confirming your degree and the marks you obtained. The letter must be on university letterhead.

8) Proof of citizenship or permanent residency
Photocopies of the following documents are accepted:
a. current passport
b. birth certificate
c. Canadian permanent resident card

Applications must be sent using one of the following delivery methods:

By e-mail: We will accept your documents by e-mail. All submitted documents must be included in a PDF file in the required order.
Please send your application to the attention of:

Nicole Mayer
Program Assistant
Climate Change and Water Program
Re: Application to the Adaptation H2O Awards
Tel.: 1-613-696-2309

By email
Email subject: Application to the Adaptation H2O Awards

By regular mail, priority mail, or Xpresspost
Climate Change and Water Program
International Development Research Centre
PO Box 8500
Ottawa, ON K1G 3H9 - Canada

By courier
Climate Change and Water Program
International Development Research Centre
150 Kent Street, Mailroom Suite 990
Ottawa, ON K1P 0B2 - Canada

All completed applications, including attachments, MUST BE RECEIVED by email or mail prior to Thursday, September 1, 2011. Electronic documents must be sent by midnight (Ottawa time). Documents sent by mail or courier must be received by IDRC at the latest by 4:00 p.m. (Ottawa time). Acknowledgment of receipt will be sent to all applicants whose application was received by the closing date and time.

Validity of Applications
Applications received before the deadline and that meet the requirements set out in this call for proposals will be evaluated in accordance with the evaluation process outlined above.
Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Conditions of awards
Under no circumstances will awards be granted by IDRC to recommended candidates without first:

  • obtaining evidence that the master’s or doctoral applicant has completed all of the required course work for their program of study;
  • obtaining evidence that the doctoral applicant has successfully passed all of his or her comprehensive written and oral examinations for the academic program in which he or she is enrolled;
  • the applicant’s acceptance of the award’s contract terms and conditions.

We reserve the right to impose additional conditions that we may deem appropriatebefore issuing an award. These may include, without being limited to, the following:

  • The applicant will permit IDRC to disseminate his or her research results or resulting papers.
  • The applicant will respond to the comments of the IDRC-designated evaluators on his or her proposal.
  • In the case of ethical questions relating to the research, the applicant may, at IDRC’s discretion, be required to obtain and submit the appropriate approval from the Ethics Committee of their home university.
  • Applicants whose proposal involves carrying out a physical activity will comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. As a result of an environmental impact assessment of the proposed project, the applicant may have to modify his or her project to mitigate environmental impacts.

We will post the list of the candidates recommended for an award on the Adaptation H2O website, at the latest on December 1, 2011.
Only candidates who have been recommended for an award will be contacted.
We thank all applicants for their interest.

For all enquiries regarding this call for proposals, please contact the project coordinator:

Mélanie Robertson
Senior Program Officer
Climate Change and Water
Tel.: 1-613-696-2493

For more information, please visit official website:

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the above information is current and correct. However, applicants should contact the appropriate administering body before making an application, as details do change frequently.


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