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Marine and Coastal Science for Management (MASMA) programme, the first regional competitive research grant mechanism, provides funding and technical support for coastal and marine research, training and communications in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.

MASMA was established to reduce predominance of narrowly focused natural science research, limited emphasis on interdisciplinary research, and limited attention to the critical links between science and the larger societal issues in the region. Consequently, MASMA seeks to strengthen applied and interdisciplinary research on both the natural and social science aspects of coastal environmental issues for the purpose of advancing knowledge that is directly relevant to society and resource management.

A principal component of the MASMA program is a competitive grants program to support regional research. Through these grants, MASMA encourages and supports multi/trans-disciplinary effort research; promote regional collaboration in research amongst the experts from the different countries in WIO and partnerships between scientists from within and outside the region; and more importantly, it aims at building professionalism and competence of researchers in designing and coordinating research projects. Calls for research proposals for the MASMA Programme are guided by the list of priority research themes. These themes have been drawn mainly from the World Ocean Assessment and the Regional State of the Coast Report for the WIO region.

Through support for scientific symposia, workshops, a professional journal, and selected book publications, MASMA has become more than a competitive grants scheme. It has had a major impact on the dissemination of marine science and international visibility of coastal and marine issues in the WIO region. MASMA supports research that is relevant to the region, ensures local ownership of the research results and strengthens institutions and individual capacities to manage and attract research grants. All these are critical ingredients for ensuring continued interest and commitment to support marine and coastal research in the WIO by the governments of the region and the funding agencies.

MASMA provides a working platform for experts from within and outside the region to access funding and technical assistance to support their relevant research ideas and to the governments through their management authorities a mechanism to influence research agenda and to funding agencies and private sector, a cost-effective framework at the regional level for supporting research.

The MASMA programme is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and administered by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), through the Programme Committee. The Committee is composed of ten internationally accredited scientists from both the WIO region and outside the region.