Call for concept proposals: STAARS initiative

Application deadline: April 30, 2016
In collaboration with Cornell University, PEP will provide technical mentorship and support for early-career African researchers who will be selected through this competition for fellowship under the STAARS initiative. 

PEP is calling for concept proposals for the Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) fellowship, supported by the International Center for International Development (IDRC) of Canada. The STAARS project is a collaboration with Cornell University, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), and the World Bank.

The STAARS project builds on the World Bank “Myths and Facts in African Agriculture” project to pursue in-depth, rigorous, policy-oriented research on the causal determinants of productivity and income growth, asset accumulation, rural employment and risk management in African agriculture and rural spaces.

Find out more about the STAARS initiative.

Through this competitive call for proposals PEP aims to provide competitive grants for travel and training for bright early career African researchers, i.e. late stage Ph.D. students or African-based researchers who have completed their Ph.D. in 2011 or later. Selected STAARS fellows will be paired with mentors at Cornell University with whom they will jointly author a paper on a topic of mutual interest relating to structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa. PEP will support the publication of resulting research findings in high quality journals and as working papers. In addition, PEP will facilitate fellows’ participation in scientific and policy conference.

Prospective STAARS fellows are invited to develop proposals in the following thematic areas: 

  1. Employment and income sources, key determinants of household income diversification within the agricultural sector and interlinked non-farm sectors in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Employment intensity, patterns of labor productivity and family labor time allocation (men, women, and children) across farm and non-farm activities in rural areas and how these affect competitiveness of agricultural employment in sub-Saharan Africa. 
  3. Seasonal labor market imperfections and rigidities, including wages that affect employment in rural areas, the key determinants of out-migration of labor from rural areas, with special emphasis on youth, and opportunities for productive employment in the farm and non-farm sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
  4. Promising policy interventions to foster decent employment, income diversification and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa.
  5. Financial inclusion for small-scale producers and women, and resilience of livelihoods against shocks in sub-Saharan Africa.
  6. Rural factor market performance for agricultural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Please note that STAARS fellows’ rigorous policy analysis should use existing panel data, such as the Living Standards Measurement Study - Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) or similar datasets. LSMS-ISA panel datasets are available for a number of countries in Africa including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda.

Applicants are required to prepare a maximum 2500 word (5 page) concept proposal in English, which motivates the selected research issues and objectives, outlines data sources, proposed methodology and contains a convincing plan for completing the project by publishing findings before December 31, 2016.

Submit your concept proposal before April 30, 2016 via email to

Follow this link for more information.

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