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Priority Areas

The AAP has identified seven interrelated priority areas to focus on:

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Gender and Inclusion

AAP’s cross-cutting priority, gender and inclusion, is directly aligned with our core principles (specifically equity and inclusivity). As depicted in the graphic above, a gender and inclusion focus forms the foundation of AAP’s programs and is integrated across all of our work. AAP supports initiatives that embody a thoughtful and meaningful integration of gender, equity, and inclusion. This includes programs and projects that take into account how different people may be impacted differently, mitigate any constraints on equity, include diverse perspectives especially those of traditionally marginalized groups, and recognize the role of gender, social position, and power in decision-making and the impact of these dynamics on development challenges.

Agri-food Systems

Humanity depends on agri-food systems for its survival and development. Agri-food systems constitute the institutions and people involved in getting food from farm to fork – from suppliers of inputs and services, to farmers themselves, to traders, processors, retailers and all others involved in putting food on peoples’ tables. Globalized food systems are complex interdependent webs that connect communities across the globe through processes of production, distribution, and consumption of agricultural products. Agri-food systems are also increasingly multi-functional, often providing renewable sources of energy, ecosystem services, materials for construction, and many other resources that support human livelihoods. Through research, policy, and advocacy, AAP is working to promote sustainable agri-food systems- innovative ways of producing, distributing, and consuming agricultural products that provide adequate nutrition, stable incomes, livelihoods security, and wellbeing for farm families and their communities. The evolution of agri-food systems is increasingly intertwined with energy, food, water, and land policies.

Water, Energy, & Environment

Providing people with clean water and energy is key to sustainable social and economic development, and as such, these challenges are a major preoccupation of governments the world over. Processes of delivering water and energy have significant impacts on the environment and are also inextricably intertwined with climate change. The interdependent nature of water, energy, and the environment requires integrated approaches to research and implementation that recognize the cross-sectoral nature of both the challenges and the solutions. Achieving sustainable use of these globally essential resources and addressing the climate crisis requires an understanding of the synergies among them as well as the trade-offs among competing demands. AAP supports research aimed at helping society understand the intricate linkages between water, energy, and the environment. AAP-supported research generates evidence that inform governments as they craft policy options to provide water and energy services and enhance human well-being while minimizing impacts on the environment.

Youth Empowerment

Africa has the world’s youngest population, with over 60% below the age of 25. A projected doubling of the population by mid-century would make the continent home to one in three of the world’s youth (15-24 years) and one in four of young adults (25-34). Young Africans will significantly determine Africa’s growth trajectory and its overall impact on the global economy. A large cohort of young people offers an important opportunity for economic transformation if their talents and skills are developed and channeled into productive employment. Conversely, chronic and pervasive unemployment and/or underemployment among such a youthful labor force could lead to disillusionment and social unrest. Research and programming for youth empowerment addresses these and other aspects of youth livelihoods through research and action that is led by, and inclusive of, young people themselves. The goal of AAP’s work in youth empowerment is to transform the lives of African youth and their communities by elevating youth voices and agency, co-creating an enabling environment for youth to thrive, and supporting entrepreneurship and community-engaged scholarship that focuses on youth development outcomes.


Education is at the core of human learning and development. Societies and individuals learn through education at all levels to develop critical thinking, acquire relevant skills, and cultivate the tools to make responsible decisions that affect lives and livelihoods. Education includes all processes of human learning and development, formal and informal, and encompasses both policy and implementation. From early childhood to tertiary education, AAP-supported work takes on the challenges of improving teaching and learning for quality education, promoting innovative pedagogies, ensuring that education is relevant and accessible to all, increasing equity in educational programming, and integrating diverse perspectives with an emphasis on indigenous knowledge.

Culture & Society

Cultural heritage and cultural activities are essential resources for society and for human development. These are closely related to social dynamics and social institutions including justice systems, governance systems, and religious institutions. In the face of global challenges, understanding and unpacking cultural values and social practices provide opportunities for creative innovation and make a connection with the experiences and wisdom of past generations. Creative cultural practices allow societies and individuals to foster human dignity, well-being, and sustainability. AAP supports work that can inform societies so that they can creatively identify and explore new approaches and frameworks in, for example: conflict-resolution and peace-building activities; building democratic institution; youth empowerment; inter-generational dialogue; and human-environment sustainability.

Health & Nutrition

Health and nutrition are interwoven threads in the fabric of societal well-being. Beyond nutrition, general health encompasses a broad spectrum of conditions and outcomes, affecting individuals from infancy through old age. This priority area recognizes the intricate connection between dietary habits, lifestyle choices, and the wider determinants of health, including environmental factors, access to healthcare, and socio-economic conditions. Our aim is to foster a comprehensive approach to health that addresses the multifaceted nature of malnutrition, including under-nutrition and over-nutrition, while also tackling the broader array of health challenges such as infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, mental health, and access to quality healthcare services. Research under this theme will explore integrative strategies that enhance public health, promote healthy lifestyles, and ensure equitable access to health services. Collaborations across disciplines and sectors are essential, bringing together insights from healthcare professionals, policymakers, and communities to design and implement interventions that are culturally appropriate, sustainable, and grounded in scientific evidence.

Science, Technology, & Innovation

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and complex global challenges, the role of science, technology, and innovation has never been more critical. This priority area seeks to harness science and technology as a transformative force for sustainable development, economic growth, and social progress. Our focus spans from fundamental scientific research to groundbreaking technological solutions and innovative practices that address pressing global and local challenges. We encourage research and initiatives that promote the development and adoption of new technologies, enhance digital literacy and inclusion, foster innovation ecosystems, and support policy frameworks that enable science and technology to flourish. By fostering collaborations among academia, industry, government, and communities, we aim to build resilient societies where science and technology empower individuals and transform lives.