College of Research Associates

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  • The College of Research Associates (CRA) is an initiative of the UNU-INRA to increase and improve the quality of human resource and research activity in natural resource management and conservation in Africa to ensure sustainable development. The CRA was officially launched in 1999, following an institutional capacity assessment which revealed some inadequacies in research infrastructure and training of critical human resource to promote the conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources in 23 key universities and research institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Limited access to current literature,  research funding and intellectual isolation of most African scientists from the global scientific community were identified as reasons for the shortfall in research output and impact on the management of natural resources in Africa.

    Against the backdrop of rapid natural resource degradation, increased poverty and food insecurity on the African continent, African scientists needed to be challenged to:

    • Advance food security through basic research – validating and disseminating the grassroots knowledge of indigenous farmers and forest-dwellers;
    • Add value to Africa’s primary products through applied science and technology;
    • Link scientific knowledge on natural resources to policy, problem-solving, and long term planning
    • Educate and train young scientists in cutting-edge science

    The CRA provides a platform to improve the relationship between UNU-INRA and African scientists in national universities and research institutions in the form of a network.  Members of the CRA, located at several university campuses and research institutes across the continent, compliment the work of UNU-INRA in targeting training and research on natural resource issues.  The CRA constitutes an operational strategy of reducing capital expenditures on buildings and equipment by strengthening and utilizing existing universities and research institutions that are already involved in research and training. UNU-INRA uses membership of the College of Research Associates to identify teams of scientists that can form the nucleus of operating units in disciplines relevant to the programme areas of UNU-INRA.

  • The Membership to the CRA  is open to active researchers in African universities and those research institutes willing to make a contribution to the UNU-INRA priority thematic areas. The CRA members continue to be members of their various institutions while participating in UNU-INRA’s programme of work.

    Because multidisciplinary approach to problem solving is advocated by UNU-INRA in the design and execution of its own projects, members of the network are encouraged to form a team within their respective institutions to prepare research and training proposals.

    After a preliminary screening, the proposals will be peer-reviewed. Every two years, successful projects become part of the scheduled activities of UNU-INRA after they adopted by the Advisory Board of UNU-INRA. Upon approval of the Institute’s programme and budgeted by the Council of UNU, the seed money for the research projects is made available to national scientists to be carried out to research and/or training. The Senior personnel of UNU-INRA will provide a close supervision. The researchers’ host institutions are encouraged to be active participants in the funding of the project. Training of post-graduate students within the ambit of the research project is a requirement for the receipt of seed money.

    It is hoped that members of the CRA will act as mentors to young scientists.

  • Membership of the CRA are open to entrepreneural scientists, academics and scholars from African Universities and Research Institutions. Their research and training focuses on the conservation and transformation of Africa’s natural resources into goods and services for human welfare. The admission to membership is based on a critical review of the curriculum vitae and the submission of an innovative and scientifically sound research or training proposal related to the current programme areas of UNU-INRA namely:

    1. Harnessing Land and Water Resources for Efficient and Sustainable Use
    2. Promoting Conservation and Developing a Green Economy
    3. Governing and Managing Extractive Industries

    After 13 years, UNU-INRA is still committed to the CRA concept. It is building a database of researchers, Registry of Researchers (RORs), who have outstanding professional experience in the area of natural resources management and are willing to collaborate and undertake research activities with UNU-INRA. Based on Individual researchers’ CV and experience, interested researchers will be admitted into the College of Research Associates (CRA).

    UNU-INRA is currently in the process of updating its database and open for new applications. We hereby request interested researchers to submit their recent CV including their area of specialization and contact information at their earliest convenience to .

    Please note: Interested persons should have a minimum of a PhD degree in a natural resource related area and a minimum of 10 years experience in academia with not less than five research publications in international peer reviewed journals.

  • Prospective candidates are encouraged to submit their applications and CVs to:

    The CRA Coordinator
    P.M.B., K.I.A.
    Accra, Ghana

    E-Mail: or

    Candidates are obliged to submit research and/or training proposals in the identified priority thematic areas. Copies of the application forms, guidelines for completing them (in English & French), and UNU-INRA Strategic Plan 2011-2014 are obtainable from the Download Tab.

    Note: Proposals submitted by a multidisciplinary team, with each member responsible for specific aspects of the proposed project, will be more favourably considered. Proposals received at the UNU-INRA Secretariat are pre-screened and then forwarded to subject matter experts worldwide for review and advice on scientific quality, feasibility and contribution to food security and biodiversity management in Africa.

    The selection process is very rigorous. Therefore, applicants should carefully follow our guidelines for completing the research/training proposal submission forms. Final decisions on applications are communicated to candidates after projects that received favourable peer reviews are further reviewed and adopted by the Advisory Board of UNU-INRA.