Hub Director:

Dr Brian Barrett

Research Manager:

Vanessa Duclos

(Intern: Alex Maxwell)

Hub Members:

Dr Mia Perry
Prof Dan Haydon
Dr Neil Burnside
Dr Nader Karimi
Prof Jude Robinson
Prof Jo Sharp (University of St Andrews)
Dr Zoe Strachan
Mary Ryan
Dr Lizelle Bisschoff
Dr Nai Rui Chng
Dr Neil Munro
Dr Daniel Koehn (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
Andrew Vincent (Classrooms for Malawi)
Lynne McCorriston
Molly Gilmour
Alasdair Currie
Prof Nicol Keith
Dr Lavinia Hirsu
Dr Queralt Capsada-Munsech
Viviana Checchia
Dr Raihana Ferdous
Anthony Kadoma

Hub background

The SFA Network is a University of Glasgow initiative established in 2016 (PI: Dr Mia Perry). With growing participation across academic and non-academic settings in Scotland and the UK, the Scotland hub was formally established in 2019 to better support and develop the role of the Scotland based membership in the international work of the Network. Coordinating activities between both member universities (University of Glasgow & University of St Andrews) and non-academic members, the hub aims to lead in research and practice that acknowledges the impact and implication of Scottish and European practice and policy on sub-Saharan Africa as well as on the Global South more broadly. The Scotland hub members collaborate with members from the African hubs on various research projects spanning a range of disciplines. The hub acknowledges the interconnectedness of Global Challenges (Global North and South, global and local, social and ecological) and focuses on transdisciplinary approaches and international partnerships to address these.


Although a good deal of research, innovation and policy has been introduced to address deteriorating ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa, most of it has failed to involve the communities most directly impacted.

The CSPE Network brought together environmental and social scientists in community and public pedagogies to address the implementation gap by facilitating innovative cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaborations to address biodiversity loss in engagement with the social, cultural, and economic factors experienced by communities through pilot projects in Botswana, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda. The current SFA Network evolve from this initiative.


Building on the CSPE project, this project’s aim was to strengthen and sustain the SFA Network. The project ran from August 2018 – June 2019 with funding from SFC-GCRF (University of Glasgow internal competition).

The long-term goal is sustainability through partnerships that support genuine and decolonial collaboration across Northern and Southern partners. To this end we strengthened capacity and leadership across regions. A new Africa-based and NGO-affiliated co-director of the network was employed; the internal capacity of the 5 Hubs increased; and the annual network symposium supported.

Our objectives were to 1) develop the capacity and autonomy of the Hubs and strengthen collaborations (Global North-South links); 2) increase the interaction between academic institutions, NGOs and communities, 3) improve production and uptake of research outcomes 4) grow research capacity across the network and develop joint grant applications.

The GCRF aims to provide high quality development work by funding research questions co-produced by SFA partners in the Global North and Global South which are driven by interdisciplinary and cross-sector research teams. A toolkit has been developed to help GCRF teams (and international, interdisciplinary research teams more broadly) with this fundamental challenge. Drawing on the learning, challenges, and examples of best practice from the SFA, we proposed to bring together a small but diverse group of researchers to produce a practical but critical guide to collaborative partnerships in development-related research.

The toolkit was produced at a writing workshop to facilitate dedicated time to share experiences and ensure a cohesive and timely output. Together we worked on a theoretically grounded resource with a focus on practice, using exemplar case-studies to contextualise the terrain. It is an open-access document to be made available to GCRF applicants, as well as more widely to research and development workers in international interdisciplinary partnerships.


With funding from SFC-GCRF (University of Glasgow internal competition), this ongoing project responds to the current needs of the network with three primary objectives: 1. Continual decrease of non-project-based infrastructure funding and the increase of diverse funding sources; 2. Strengthening of the UofG and Scotland-led research projects; 3. Formalising and developing the graduate student and ECR association of the SFA.

Despite good intentions, research teams can be seen by communities as knowledge extractors with tokenistic and perfunctory approaches

This initiative is a bottom-up approach that seeks to challenge and respond to the too common top-down research agendas. To bridge the gap between research teams and communities, our main activity will be to build capacities through the development and distribution of a resource about community engagement in international – development led contexts for researchers and development workers in LMIC countries, as well as UK partners involved in the research teams. This will be achieved by co-designing and carrying out a workshop with the Malawian hub of the Sustainable Futures in Africa network and the local communities of Mzimba District – in Malawi.


This ongoing project brings together partners from Scotland, Nigeria and Colombia. It is funded by SFC-GCRF (University of Glasgow internal competition).

Illegal mining activity is thriving in Osun and Oyo States of Nigeria. Crude manual extraction methods are being employed by non-natives and foreigners. Their activities are having serious consequences for local communities and the environment with frightening security dimensions. The project meetings will facilitate knowledge exchange with researchers working in Chocó, Colombia in an effort to avoid the scale of illegal mining there which has resulted in catastrophic socio-environmental impacts

This project – Development of sustainable clean cooking facilities to boost resilience to climate change in Malawi – is slated to run from December 2019 to March 2021, brings together partners from Malawi and Scotland and is funded by the Climate Justice Innovation Fund Grants Programme.

Currently, nearly the whole population of Malawi use firewood/charcoal for cooking and climate change is turning more Malawian fishermen and agriculturalists to charcoal producers. This has resulted in rapid deforestation further damage to agricultural activities and, ultimately intensifying poverty. A solution is sought through utilising agricultural and municipal wastes to produce bio-fuels which are then burned in a novel gas cooker. The key objectives are:

1- To deliver a sustainable biofuel production (biogas and biosyngas) and utilization unit for clean and efficient cooking;

2- To manufacture and maintain the bioenergy kit in Malawi and attract attention from local business.

The Participatory Futures project addresses the challenge of Equitable Access to Sustainable Development as identified by the UKRI GCRF strategy, and the Sustainable Development Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) as an essential component of this issue. This goal is gravely underrepresented in development-related research and yet critically underpins and determines the impact and sustainability of outcomes. This project seeks to re-examine 5 GCRF projects to evaluate the way partnerships have been conceptualised and practiced across diverse research contexts.

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The Whose Crisis?: The Global Covid-19 crisis from the perspective of communities in Africa project is an urgent response to a rapidly evolving global pandemic whereby the North is leading — by example and economic pressure — a response to an emergency affecting communities all over the world. The “Whose Crisis?” project is funded by the AHRC-GCRF and aims to co-curate representations and develop understandings of the social and cultural crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and expose unseen and misunderstood aspects of this time. The project will provide critical insights and inform and contribute to more equitable global responses including those related to health, policy, economics, and education.

Learn more about this project