Jan 28, 2021
Reflecting on 2020 as we Celebrate our Achievements Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

The year 2020 was truly an extraordinary year. With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across health systems, food systems, and life as we knew it, 2020 was a stark reminder of the fundamental importance of scientific research.

As we begin a new year, we are committed to remaining optimistic and nimble even as we are excited to share some highlights of what was a challenging yet rewarding year at AWARD.

In 2020 we designed and delivered a series of webinars, attended by over 400 participants, focused on building mental resilience in the face of the pandemic and leading in times of crisis.

The AWARD training unit successfully built a world-class online training platform, which allowed us to continue offering our customized learning experiences virtually. We also designed and developed new learning programs, including leading virtual teams productively and virtual versions of our flagship Fellowship training courses, including the mentoring and leadership series.

The One Planet Fellowship continued to attract huge demand from emerging scientists across Africa, with the second call recording more than 900 applications from 14 African countries. I am excited to share that we successfully selected 45 outstanding candidates to join the One Planet Fellowship’s second cohort, which we virtually launched on October 7, 2020.

We invite you to share with your networks that the call for the third cohort of the One Planet Fellowship is now open and will close on February 15, 2021.

Our AWARD Fellows and One Planet Laureate Candidates continued with remarkable achievements in their fields. In September, a 2010 AWARD Fellow professor Fetien Abera was appointed Acting President of Mekelle University, becoming the first female to hold such a position in a public university in Ethiopia. September also saw One Planet Laureate Candidate, Malawi’s Dr. Austin Phiri, lead a research team that won a USD 100,000 grant to develop soil fertility technologies in Malawi. A 2019 AWARD Fellow from Burkina Faso, Dr. Mariama Ngom, and Dr. Austin Phiri also won the 2020 Young African Phosphorus Fellowship Awards, which included a USD 5,000 grant [each] to support their research.

In September, we partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to convene a dialogue during the 2020 African Green Revolution Forum  (AGRF) virtual summit. The discussion featured women leaders in agricultural policy from across public and private sectors, civil society, and research. We invite you to watch the recording here.

We deepened our partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the CGIAR Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) by collaborating on an initiative to equip emerging researchers with the knowledge, tools, and skills to publish their research through a series of webinars that focused on the journal publication landscape, advice from journal editors and responding to referee reports.

We are excited to share our newly revamped website with you, which has been re-designed to surface information in more insightful and user-friendly ways. We have also developed a new platform that is a one-stop space for gender experts in Africa. On the AWARD Community and African Gender Experts portal, you can connect with the AWARD Fellows, One Planet Laureate Candidates, and explore our curated list of African gender experts. Do you wish to be featured on this portal as an expert in agricultural research and gender? Do let us know by sending an email to awardqueries[at]cgiar.org. We also invite you to visit and share any feedback that can enhance the two platforms’ usability.

Finally, we are encouraged that the pandemic did not deter the AWARD Fellows and One Planet Laureate Candidates from pursuing solutions to support smallholders improve their productivity. Read how the Fellows continued contributing to resilient food systems in the face of COVID-19.

Remember, you can stay up-to-date with our latest news and opportunities by visiting our website. We also share news updates and run online discussions on our FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram pages, and you can invite your colleagues and friends to subscribe to our mailing list.

Happy New Year from the AWARD family!
Stay safe!


African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.

Email: awardqueries@cifor-icraf.org | Tel: +254 (0) 20 722 4242