SSH Rate

Research Grant "Risk Management and Humanitarianism"

The French Red Cross has been a pioneer of humanitarian action for over 150 years. In 2013, pursuing its engagement for a fairer and more humane world, the French Red Cross created the French Red Cross Fund. This endowment fund is dedicated to the promotion of research work on the methods of humanitarian action in transition, and on the links binding humanitarian and social fields.

In order to guide and encourage these efforts at reflection and innovation, the Fund has decided to join forces with the AXA Research Fund to invite applications for a postdoctoral fellowship on specific themes. The AXA Research Fund lends its support to scientists and institutions of excellence whose research is linked to environmental risk, risks threatening human life, and socio-economic risk.

Research themes

Health risks and Humanitarian Response in Developing Countries

For many NGOs, health remains the priority sector. According to the NGO Solthis, “In the world today, 400 million people lack access to essential care. Although there has been undeniable progress in terms of global health, there are still huge areas of need, particularly in formulating a long-term solution to health concerns. This is especially true in Africa, where health systems remain fragile because of a lack of financial resources, organisational issues and human resources.”

Given this context of unequal access to care, two research axes appear as priorities.

Over the last few years, certain NGOs, such as MSF, have been able to develop real response capacities following the emergence of new pandemics (cholera in Haiti, meningitis and measles in Niger, Kala-azar in Sudan, etc.). However, faced with the Ebola virus, the Marburg fever, or new pandemics with accelerated transmission caused by modifications in modes of production (such as the H5N1 avian pandemic), or by the intensification of population movements enabled by public transport systems and air travel (H1N1), “most medical NGOs are out of the game” and their limits have been put to the test. How can we anticipate pandemic risks and prepare for them, in countries where the health systems are fragile?

Medical inequalities are a reality for a very significant number of people throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries. Currently, in Africa, one woman in 16 dies in childbirth and one child in five does not reach the age of five due to respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria or measles. How can we contribute to sustainable development in matters of health, and improve access to health care and quality medical follow-up for the most vulnerable (pregnant women and newborn babies, isolated populations in rural areas, handicapped people, abandoned or vulnerable children, socially marginalised young people, people suffering from serious or undiagnosed diseases…)? How can we better understand and put a stop to the mechanisms of neglect, the development of medical deserts and the exclusion of health on a wide scale in developing countries?

Climatic Risks and Insurance against Natural Disasters

Climate upheavals and hazards have consequences which go beyond their environmental impact. They lead to humanitarian and sanitary crises which necessitate specific management methods, and their forecasted intensification will mean that NGOs, states, businesses and international institutions will have to manage steeply growing operational volumes in the future. This new context requires NGOs, businesses and international institutions to reconsider their actions with a view to transitioning in line with the objectives of sustainable development. Public authorities will need to opt for innovative methods of risk and disaster management (new insurance mechanisms, Disaster Risk Reduction), and energy transition. It is therefore important to ask what these environmental upheavals imply, both in terms of consequences for populations and in terms of the development and implementation of humanitarian action. How is heightened environmental risk linked to developments in the humanitarian sector? How do these two factors interact in crisis response?

Do the new insurance systems against humanitarian consequences of natural disasters, such as the African Risk Capacity (ARC) addressed to states, for example, represent a path towards humanitarian transition, greater autonomy and a new distribution of roles? This thematic axis specifically aims to study methods of implementing insurance models such as the ARC, by analysing its components for all parties involved. How are contingency plans negotiated, with which programmes and which results for those which have already been tested? How are INGOs involved in these insurance opportunities as partners? How do big global insurers come into the picture, by way of insurance or reassurance? How can the so-called parametric or index-based approach to insurance, based on new technologies, bring better protection to populations and businesses who are the victims of natural disasters?

Risks linked to Water and Impacts on Malnutrition

Currently, 663 million people do not have access to an improved drinking-water source, and 1.8 billion still use water sources which are contaminated with fecal matter. 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation and 1 billion amongst them still defecate in the open, with all the risks that that implies .

This has a direct impact on populations’ health, since 842 000 people die each year, of which 361 children under five, due to the insalubrity of their drinking water and the lack of sanitation and hygiene. In 2016, waterborne diseases remained one of the biggest causes of mortality worldwide and unquestionably the leading cause of infant mortality.

The link between defecating in the open and public health is well-established. Certain organisations use the CLTS, or Community-Led Total Sanitation, approach (Ivory Coast, Haiti, Chad…). Yet this approach, which aims to stamp out defecation in the open, does not take into account animal excretions, even though Cryptosporidium parvum, for example, which has been directly linked to cattle, is one of the most common pathogens associated with diarrhea, death and acute malnutrition (Marshak, 2016).

There is a distinct lack of studies focused on the links that exist between water, (mal)nutrition and cattle. Research projects could evaluate the relevance, efficiency and impact of WASH and CLTS projects on the improvement of populations’ health in cattle-breeding areas. Which anthropological and sociological approaches might be deployed in order to better understand and manage this factor of malnutrition? Which strategies and/or alliances must actors in these programmes develop in order to take into account the risks of waterborne diseases and implement preventive measures based on a better understanding of the pathogens linked to animal excrement?

Geographic research zones

These themes can be approached transversally or in the context of geographically-targeted research on a specific zone or country. In partnership with the AXA Research Fund, the French Red Cross Fund has identified eight priority countries for this call for applications. These target countries represent an empirical starting-point for research:

  • Burkina Faso,
  • Ivory Coast,
  • Mali,
  • Madagascar,
  • Morocco,
  • Niger,
  • Senegal,
  • Chad.

They do not correspond to eligibility criteria with regards to nationality.

Access to the field will be determined by a precise risk evaluation submitted along with the application and updated before departure, with prior reference to the recommendations of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development. 

Application conditions

Funding allocated by the Fund is intended to cover the cost of one year of research, in the framework of an individual postdoctoral fellowship. Postdoctoral researchers are awarded a fellowship according to a base scale of 20,000 € per year.

It is possible to submit one application per call. However, each candidate may receive only one fellowship and, if necessary, will have to choose.

Only those candidates complying with the following conditions may apply:

  • Candidates must hold a doctorate (French doctorate, Ph.D. or foreign doctorate of equivalent level) in the field of social science (in particular in political science, anthropology, sociology or philosophy) or medical science (medicine, public health);
  • Candidates must have defended their thesis less than 10 years ago;
  • Candidates must not hold a permanent position more than half-time;
  • Candidates must contribute to advancing research on the themes or geographic areas selected by the Fund, or must have published in other fields, thereby showing their capacities in conducting high-quality research.

There are no conditions concerning nationality. The Fund will nevertheless give priority to applications from researchers living in the countries corresponding to the priority geographic areas.

Projects presenting a multidisciplinary approach are strongly encouraged.

Generally speaking, a researcher wishing to apply must:

  • Write the research paper in French;
  • Be presented by a research or academic institution;
  • Demonstrate motivation in the application (value of the proposed research and impact for the institution);
  • Comply with the award conditions and terms of use of the funds granted by the Fund, as stated in this document;
  • Pre-enrol in accordance with the requirements below before 23 March 2017;
  • Return the completed application form to the French Red Cross Fund with the attached documents before 17 April 2017.

Funding regulations and requirements

The Fund does not provide researchers with any financial or logistical support beyond the allocated fellowship. Each researcher is solely responsible for the logistical management and material conditions of his or her work.

All selected researchers commit to respecting the requirements, signing the charter and allocation convention for Fund financing.

Researchers commit to respecting the laws and regulations in force in the research country, especially concerning their entries and departures from the field, and to subscribing to civil responsibility insurance, health and repatriation cover in the event of movement abroad and to all obligatory social security contributions applicable in their home countries.

Researchers commit to respecting the Fund’s scientific calendar regarding the deadlines for report submissions and working papers. They will have the opportunity to present their work orally, during the day workshops organised by the Fund.

The financing or cofinancing by the French Red Cross Fund and its partners would be mentioned in the event of any articles or books being published based on the research carried out in the context of the fellowships. Reciprocally, any use or dissemination by the Fund of research carried out would be credited to the author, who remains the owner of his or her work.

The Fund transfers 90% of the fellowship in three instalments: in the first month of research, and on reception of each of the two progress reports. The remaining 10% is transferred on receipt of the two working papers by the Fund.

The financed research period begins on September 1st of the fellowship year. However, the transfer of the first instalment of the fellowship is determined by written confirmation by the researcher indicating the beginning of their research. Any delay following September 1st must be justified and will result in a delay of the first instalment until this confirmation is received. Any delay or breach of professional ethics which calls into question the trust between the researcher and the Fund by its unjustified nature, or the feasibility of the study within the limits defined, may lead to the cancellation of funding.

The allocation of the second and third instalments depends on the expressed will, reaffirmed on behalf of the researcher, to continue their research, by means of two progress reports to their supervisor and to the Fund’s scientific advisor. The researcher must notify the Fund without delay of any premature end to their research. Hence, in the absence of reaffirmation of their expressed will to continue with their research, the transfer of funds will be suspended. The Fund reserves the right to ask for the reimbursement of all or part of the funds already allocated. In the same way, any delay in submitting the reports, and any breach in professional ethics which calls into question the trust between the researcher and the Fund by its unjustified nature or scope may lead to the cancellation of funding.

The applicant commits to reporting any possible conflicts of interest.

It is understood that the views and opinions expressed by the researchers in articles or books based on this research are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the French Red Cross Fund.

Application date
10 Apr 2017
1 year
Europe France Paris Île-de-France
Humanities Philosophy Social sciences Demography Economics Environmental Sciences Geography Law Political science Social Anthropology Sociology Other Medicine
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 10 years
Award granted
€ 20.000