CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Research fellowship on Family Planning, Fertility, and Urban Development

The IUSSP Family Planning, Fertility, and Urban Development Project is seeking candidates from - and currently based in - sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia who are currently employed in those regions for research fellowships. This project aims to link the fields of family planning, fertility and population change with the field of urban development, to create a cadre of fellows with expertise in those areas, and to produce high-quality evidence relevant to policy issues in urban development.


These fellowships represent exceptional opportunities for both young career researchers and also for their sub-Saharan African or South Asian home institutions.  The project will provide fellows with:

  • The opportunity to develop their expertise, hone their methodological skills and extend their networks on a topic that will certainly attract a great deal of attention in upcoming years (more on this below),
  • Partial salary support, allowing fellows to free up time to devote to their proposed research projects,
  • Limited funding to directly support their research costs (including primary research and secondary data analysis),
  • The possibility to work closely with a senior researcher or mentor on their project, typically based at another institution in the region or elsewhere,
  • Funds to allow fellows to present their work at major regional and international meetings, and to become members of relevant scientific associations,
  • Training in policy communication and outreach strategies and support for outreach to policy makers throughout the study, to promote the use of the research results, and
  • The opportunity to become part of a dynamic interdisciplinary network of researchers who are working in this area.


Process and timing.  Interested applicants should submit a short concept note on their proposed research project by 15 April 2019. (The online portal is expected to open around March 15.) These will be quickly reviewed, and those with promising innovative proposals will be invited to submit a full proposal by 1 July 2019. The top candidates will then be invited to a project meeting held in Kampala (Uganda) next November just before the Union of African Population Studies conference, and approved fellowships will start in early 2020. The research may last between 12 and 24 months and is generally expected to require a part-time commitment.

For details on this fellowship program, please see:


I’ll end this message with a brief explanation for why I think the combined area of urban development and welfare, and family planning and fertility, is likely to attract a great deal of attention in both research and policy circles in upcoming years.


Population growth.  Between 2015 and 2050, the world’s population is projected to rise by 2.4 billion, with three-fourths of this increase occurring in sub-Saharan Africa (1.2 billion) and South Asia (600 million) – the two regions that currently account for over 80% of the world population living in absolute poverty. The bulk of future population growth will take place in urban areas and the world urban population is projected to increase by two-thirds by 2050.


Cities  are more unequal than rural areas, and most are struggling to keep pace with rapid population growth in terms of vital infrastructure. Roughly one in three urban residents in Asia and Africa lives in slums with limited access to basic services, including health and family planning services, sanitation, clean water, and education. Unmet need for modern contraception and unwanted fertility remain high in the cities of the two regions, where the rapid growth in the number of adolescents and other disadvantaged subgroups translates into enormous needs for targeted sexual and reproductive health services.


Improving access to family planning services should be an integral part of efforts aimed at building sustainable cities and ensuring economic prosperity. Providing couples with the ability to plan their families is of broad value in terms of gender equity, women’s economic empowerment, enabling young women to invest in their own schooling and careers, and giving families the ability to better invest in their children’s schooling – elements of critical importance to human welfare and achieving the demographic dividend. Reducing unwanted fertility brings benefits in terms of maternal health and poverty alleviation, and will slow the pace of urban growth, facilitating the achievement of other urban goals.


The problem is that policy discussions on urban development and health, as well as on “sustainable cities” (e.g., Sustainable Development Goal 11), neglect the important roles of family planning and fertility.  Family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) are often viewed as being just health or “women’s” issues, and their many broader benefits tend to be passed over in urban policy. Similarly, demographic and public health research rarely focus on critically important specific aspects of urban life in their analyses in part due to a lack of data. (For a more complete description of relations between FP, fertility and urban welfare, see:, and for a description of the ways in which the project defines and addresses policy issues, see


Bottom line:   While family planning and fertility trends are of great importance for urban welfare and development prospects, they have been largely neglected to date in both scientific and policy spheres. The IUSSP hopes that the research and policy outreach activities of this project will contribute to putting these demographic variables on the table in key urban policy discussions at national, regional and international levels, and to create a core network of young dynamic researchers working in the area.


Please forward this message to anyone in your networks who might themselves be, or who might know, eligible candidates for this extraordinary opportunity.


If you have any questions, or suggestions for dissemination efforts by IUSSP, please write to Thank you for your help in identifying excellent candidates for this fellowship.