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21 innovative research projects funded to tackle climate change in Africa

21 innovative research projects funded to tackle climate change in Africa

  • Awardees comprise scientists from west, east, central and southern African countries, such as, Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe
  • Over half of the selected scientists are women

Twenty-one groundbreaking research projects from across Africa have been selected to receive funding from a US$2.5 M innovative initiative supporting Africa-led climate science research.

The projects distributed across four African regions in the west, east, central and south, will each receive up to $100,000 for a period of nine months through the Climate Research for Development (CR4D) initiative. The CR4D initiative seeks to strengthen links between climate science research and climate information needs to support development planning in Africa.  

There is still a paucity of data in regions of Africa which are hardest hit by climate change. Yet the recent severe water shortages in Cape Town, food shortages in Kenya driven by rainfall variability and floods in Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi clearly require us to grow our community of practice in climate sciences and to harness their scientific innovation to tackle the urgent impacts of climate change that hinder sustainable development in Africa. CR4D will empower and support these scientists to better understand the global phenomena so they can adequately provide and amplify African-led solutions.

Much as Africa is the hardest hit by climate change impacts that are already being felt with a higher frequency of flooding and droughts, African-led research and data driven solutions are limited. Global climate change models for example, have a very limited input of African data and therefore do not describe the impacts of climate change in Africa adequately. There is an urgent need to increase the inputs of Africa’s climate scientists into the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Only 8 per cent of contributors to the 2018 IPCC assessment report were from the continent.

The 21 grantees, over half of whom are women, were selected from a competitive pool of nearly 200 applicants. The grantees are from a range of climate sensitive sectors, such as forestry, health and food security, economics to better prepare Africa’s people to deal with the impacts of climate change.

“It’s an honour to be chosen as one of the scientists creating solutions to Africa’s climate-based problems, one of which is the increased prevalence of diseases like malaria due to flooding. I look forward to capitalising on this funding to create an early weather forecast detection system to decrease the rate of malaria prevalence in Cote d`ìvoire, said Dr Kouassi Richard M ‘Bra, a Lecturer and Researcher at the Université Peleforo Gon Coulibaly.

Dr Anderson Kehbila, a Cameroon-born Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Kenya branch added: “Africa's position in local and global climate discussions will be much stronger with the provision of evidence to decision makers to measure and evaluate the impact of climate change and of policies and programmes created to tackle it.”

“The importance of African-led innovation can never be over-emphasized to meet Africa’s challenges especially in the face of climate change. This funding will go a long way in enabling African research scientists to develop much needed answers to various climate related problems and, in my case, to create an environmentally friendly system to improve rice production and ensure food security." echoed Dr Madaka Tumbo  Lecturer at the Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA), University of Dar es Salaam.

The confirmed awardees, their nationalities and their African host institutions are:
 
Dr Dieudonne Alemagi, Cameroonian, University of Ghana
Alemagi’s project examines and identify strategies for advancing the implementation REDD+, a mechanism to support developing countries to reduce emissions by promoting the conservation and the sustainable management of their forests, in Cameroon and Ghana, where the rate of deforestation and forest degradation remain extremely high.

Dr Olumuyiwa Adegun, Nigerian, Federal University of Technology, Akure
Impacts of extreme weather events are already a reality within informal settlements - places where a significant proportion of the urban population in Africa live. More impacts are expected, given the level of vulnerability. Adegun’s research focuses on strengthening adaptation and improving the application of climate information within these disadvantaged urban areas.
 
Dr Anderson Kehbila, Cameroonian, Stockholm Environment Institute, Kenya branch
Despite increasing interests in transitioning to low-carbon economies in Africa, policy making is hindered by the lack of necessary data and decision-support tools to bring about transformational change. Kehbila’s research seeks to bridge these gaps in science, technology and policy by providing decision makers with the information and tools they need (low-carbon economic models, quantified simulation scenarios, transition pathways and indicators) for measuring and evaluating the roll out of policies and programmes in East Africa.
 
Dr Philip Antwi-Agyei, Ghanaian, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
By 2030, the impacts of climate change could cause enhanced levels of extreme poverty, especially in West Africa, where climate change presents a major development challenge with disproportionate effects on agriculture and agro-based livelihoods. Antwi-Agyei’s research focuses on advancing knowledge on how to mainstream climate information in resilience building in agricultural systems to support sustainable agricultural productivity and economic development in Ghana.

Dr George Otieno, Kenyan, Intergovernmental Authority for Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre
The various sectors of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia — including agricultural and food security, water and energy, livestock and health are already experiencing more droughts due to climate change.  This will worsen as Africa is projected to warm fastest than any other continent. Otieno’s research focuses on how seasonal forecasts can be improved better, including the introduction of climate change information to enhance early warning systems and disaster preparedness for effective response over the GHA region.

Dr Stella Kabiri-Marial, Ugandan, Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute
The projected impacts of 2 degrees global warming are more dangerous than initially thought and brings us closer to several critical tipping points. We have only 12 years for drastic action if we are to have any chance of achieving the 1.5 degrees’ target. In a bid to save emissions from Industrial fertilizer production, this research focuses on demonstrating a green-energy driven technology solution to support the on-site fertilizer production in Africa. The aim is to provide cost-affordable, green-made Nitrogen fertilizers to local small-scale farms.

Dr Asanterabi Lowassa, Tanzanian, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute
The project aims to provide a broad understanding on the impact of gender inequality on the climate change and mitigation measures/coping strategies used by men and women. The ultimate goal is to influence policy and decision makers to consider the gender aspects of climate change and develop a gender-responsive approach.
 
Dr Isaac Mugume, Ugandan, Makerere University
The project will focus on the implications of the 1.5-2.0 degree Celsius to Uganda climate, agriculture and water nexus and will investigate the probable influence of this temperature limit on crop production and water needs including the influence on rainfall, humidity, winds and cloudiness over Uganda. This study will contribute to the research profile of the department of Geography, Geo-informatics and Climatic Sciences of Makerere University at the same time mentoring and supporting three graduate students carrying out research in areas of agriculture, hydrology, environment and climate among others.
 
Dr Mary-Jane Bopape, South African, South African Weather Service
Weather and climate early warning systems which are crucial for the safety of life and property, rely on the use of numerical models, none of which were developed in Africa. Bopape’s research will focus on the improvement of thunderstorm simulations over Southern Africa using numerical weather prediction models through modification of the boundary layer and microphysics parametrisation schemes. Output from the models will also be used to develop products for the agriculture, water, disaster risk reduction, energy and health sectors.

Dr Marthe Montcho, Beninese, University of Abomey-Calavi
The warming due to climate change affects the quantity and quality of milk in several livestock systems. Due to the importance of dairy livestock for dairy women cooperatives in West Africa, Montcho’s research focuses on simulation of the best strategies required by dairy women cooperatives to address climate change based on their current strategies for milk production and their profit improvement.

Dr Rondrotiana Barimalala, Malagasy, University of Cape Town
The economic growth of the African island states over southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) region is threatened by the impacts of climate change. There is however a limited understanding of the basic mechanisms that drive the climate variability in the area; analyses of conventional climate model outputs, both present day and projections under different global warming levels are very scarce. The critically limited climate information available for major climate-sensitive decisions hampers these countries’ efforts toward sustainable development. With a particular focus on Madagascar, the project will contribute on scientific understanding of the climate variability and change in the island in order to integrate a science-based knowledge into the country’s climate-sensitive decisions, climate change adaptation and mitigation plans as well as on the national risk awareness.
 
Dr N`Datchoh Evelyne Toure, Ivorian, West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use

This project Flood Risk Reduction under Paris Agreement (FLORR-PA) aims to provide valuable information about projected flood occurrences in three West African cities of Abidjan, Dakar and Ouagadougou under global warming target of 1.5oC and 2oC

Dr Olga Aliza Kupika, Zimbabwean, Chinhoyi University of Technology
This study aims to explore the impact of climate change on riparian based ecosystems and livelihoods dependent on two river systems, the Ronde and Save River in the south-eastern Lowveld, Zimbabwe. The project will adopt a case study approach whereby two study communities located along the margins of the rivers in drought prone Chiredzi and Mwenezi Districts will be selected to collect data using smart-mobile phones.  
 
Dr Dimphna Ezikanyi, Nigerian, Mountain Top University
The study seeks to evaluate the allergenic potentials of some plants and this will inform climate policy on selection of non-allergenic plants for tree planting approach to mitigation. The work will develop allergen specific immunotherapy for prevention of allergic diseases and evaluate the prophylactic potentials of seeds and Euphorbia in attenuating allergies.
 
Dr Ibrahim Sy, Senegalese, Centre de Suivi Ecologique
The health impact of climate change has been clearly demonstrated and that heat waves lead to morbidity and mortality excess, especially in Sahel strip countries marked by temperatures increase. However, there are still no climate services for the health sector that can assist in the monitoring and prevention of health risks associated with heat waves. The availability of health climate services (weather forecasts, seasonal forecasts and climate scenarios) can help to better integrate this emerging public health issue into health policy priorities in order to reduce morbidity and mortality due to heat waves in Sahel regions.
 
Dr  Eleni Yitbarek, Ethiopian, University of Pretoria
In this study, we propose to investigate the impacts of crop diversification (both cereal and cash crop diversification) on farm household's food and nutrition security. The study focuses on Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda, where the levels of crop diversification are generally low, and incidence of food insecurity and nutrition deficiency are high.  
 
Dr Kouassi Richard M ‘Bra, Ivorian, University of Peleforo Gon Coulibaly
In Côte d’Ivoire, malaria is the disease that has the most significant health burden with an estimated incidence of 330 cases per 1000 population. Malaria transmission could be impacted differently by the different climatic regime of the country. M’Bra’s research aims to develop early warning systems to forecast periods of high malaria infection risk in Côte d’Ivoire.
 
Dr Mokone Adnew Degefu, Ethiopian, Debre Markos University
The effort towards establishing effective drought management system in the data poor drought prone parts of Africa is hampered due to insufficient knowledge on the spatiotemporal variability, drivers, poor data quality and limited capacity. Degefu’s seeks to identify geospatial datasets and drought indices and identify the driver of drought development from large scale climate oscillation systems in Ethiopia. It intends to enhance data availability, methods and enhance the predictability of drought development

Dr Ariane Amin, Ivorian, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques
The project seeks to supply decision-makers with contextual-based and evidence-based information to enhance decision making to tackle the impact of climate on cattle production in West Africa. It will also investigate the climate risk for cattle trade flows between Côte d'Ivoire and Sahelian countries and assess the cost of inaction.

Dr Jessica Thorn, Namibian, University of Cape Town
The project will (1) determine impacts of seasonal variability on water supply in rural and peri-urban areas, (2) assess synergies and trade-offs of water-related ecological infrastructure, (3) identify barriers to the mainstreaming of ecological infrastructure for adaptation, and (4) examine diverse, scenarios to achieve desired futures outlined in the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.

Dr Madaka Tumbo, Tanzanian, University of Dar es Salaam
The research aims to address the trade-off between water savings, and productivity and soil fertility brought on by the use of alternate wetting and drying, a water management technique that uses much less water in rice irrigation. Rice, a staple food for 3 billion people, consumes more water than any other crop. In the coming decades, as demand for rice increases, freshwater resources dwindle and become more unpredictable due to climate change, and evaporation rates increase due to higher temperature, rice production will become unsustainable in most regions, requiring alternate wetting and drying but its use will need a trade-off to reduce organic nutrients being mineralised and to prevent the loss of soil fertility.

To view all grantee bios and projects click here

 
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Notes to editors

For further information about the CR4D:

  • CR4D is an African-led initiative supported by partnership between The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS), African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). 
  • The CR4D is an African-led initiative created through a partnership of the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). The initiative is the outcome of the African Climate Conference 2013 (ACC-2013), which was held in Arusha, Tanzania, and seeks to strengthen the links between climate science research and climate information needs in support of development planning in the continent’s key development sectors.
  • CR4D is the outcome of the African Climate Conference 2013 (ACC-2013), which was held in Arusha, Tanzania. The ACC-2013 recommended the establishment of an African Climate Research Agenda for Climate Services and Development in order to advance new frontiers of African climate research, focusing on four priority areas.
  • CR4D aims to strengthen links between climate science research and climate information needs to support development planning in Africa.
  • The 21 grantees will be developed into independent researchers and supported with training, networking and mentoring opportunities to facilitate international collaborations

Why an initiative like CR4D is important:

  • By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people in Africa are projected to be exposed to increased water stress whilst yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% in some countries because of climate change, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • A lack of resources at regional and continental level in Africa often means many organisations simply do not have enough computing power to run models in order to make reliable long-term weather predictions. For example, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) relies mostly on global studies made by the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) to assess future impacts on the region.
  • Africa’s role and influence in international negotiations on climate change is challenged by weakened capacity due to an attrition of experienced negotiators and the lack of a strong evidence base from the continent to inform negotiations.
  • Adequate funding for climate research will strengthen the continent’s position in international negotiations.
  • Tackling climate change will require support to local researchers to ensure they have the best understanding of the problems based on local evidence.

The African Academy of Sciences
The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is a non-aligned, non-political, not-for-profit pan African organisation. The AAS’s vision is to see transformed lives on the African continent through science. Our tripartite mandate is recognising excellence through The AAS’ highly prestigious fellowship and award schemes, providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) strategies and policies and implementing key STI programmes addressing Africa’s developmental challenges.

CR4D is implemented through the programmatic arm of the Academy, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), created in partnership with the African Union Development NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) Agency. AESA provides the funding and agenda setting to support the best minds in Africa.
 
Join us on Facebook and Twitter @AASciences and learn more at www.aasciences.ac.ke
 
For further information about The AAS, please contact
Deborah-Fay Ndlovu | d.ndlovu@aasciences.ac.ke | +254 727 660 760 | +254 20 806 0674

The African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
ACPC aims to influence, strengthen and enable a transition to climate-resilient development in Africa through responsive policies, plans and programmes that will ensure transformed economies, healthy ecosystems and human well-being. ACPC contributes to poverty reduction through mitigation and adaptation to climate change in Africa by improving the capacity of African countries to participate effectively in multilateral climate negotiations.  
 
Follow ACPC on Twitter (@ECA_OFFICIAL) or Facebook (EconomicCommissionforAfrica) and learn more at https://www.uneca.org/pages/about-acpc  

 Department for International Development
The Department for International Development is a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid. The goal of the department is "to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty" DFID’s partnership is through the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) Programme,  which is working to improve the generation and use of the weather and climate information across Sub-Saharan Africa. (WISER) was conceived by DFID in 2015 to stimulate the uptake of climate information by policy makers and vulnerable groups including the youth and women. Read more about WISER at https://www.uneca.org/wiser/pages/about-wiser