WASCAL to train 3,000 African scientists

The two-day meeting was attended by representatives from four West African countries – The Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana.

“In West Africa we have a population of about 348 million and looking at what WASCAL has done so far, producing about 200 research scientists, our projection is to have about 3,000 climate scientists

“In West Africa we have a population of about 348 million and looking at what WASCAL has done so far, producing about 200 research scientists, our projection is to have about 3,000 climate scientists by the year 2020,”
The West Africa Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) is to train about 3,000 research scientists by the year 2020.
This is intended to contribute to efforts by member countries of WASCAL to fight the effects of climate change on the West African sub-region and also improve the resilience of West African countries to climate change and climate variability.

The Director, Capacity Building, WASCAL, Professor Janet Olatundun Adelegan, gave the hint yesterday, when she presented a brief on WASCAL’s capacity-building programme, during the opening ceremony of a sub-regional consultative meeting on climate change in Accra.
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The two-day meeting was attended by representatives from four West African countries – The Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria and Ghana.

“In West Africa we have a population of about 348 million and looking at what WASCAL has done so far, producing about 200 research scientists, our projection is to have about 3,000 climate scientists by the year 2020,” Prof. Adelegan said.

She explained that the centre was expected to organise short courses and workshops to complement the major courses which would be demand-driven and focused on the priorities of countries in the sub-region, so as to make them relevant.
Essence of meeting

The Executive Director of WASCAL, Dr Laurent G. Sedogo, said the meeting was the last of three sub-regional consultative meetings that were “aimed at identifying common research and capacity building needs of different member countries for consideration in a final regional meeting in a few months” in Ouagadougou.

He said WASCAL had commissioned national and regional consultative meetings and had so far held 14 of such , to solicit the inputs of partners and customers for their research agenda for 2017 to 2020.

“Our overarching objective is to integrate, as much as possible, the research and capacity-building needs expressed by our partners into our research agenda, so as to make our research findings and the climate services relevant to the needs of the ECOWAS region,” he stated.

Sense of ownership

The Deputy Head of Mission and Head of the Economic Section of the German Embassy, Mr Bernhard Abels, who was the special guest of honour, said the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and Germany wished that through the consultative workshops, member countries would develop a high sense of ownership of the WASCAL programme and agenda.

He said the BMBF also hoped that African countries would increasingly commit human and financial resources to achieve the ultimate goal of significantly reducing the effects of climate change and climate variability on human and environmental systems.

Citing some of the effects of climate change on the West African sub-region, Mr Abels said, “As the main source of livelihood for majority of the populace, rain-fed agriculture is becoming unattractive and unbeneficial for millions of smallholder farmers due to factors such as delayed start of rains, long spells during the season and declining soil fertility.”

He indicated that it was to reduce the impact of climate change that over €30 million had already been invested in infrastructure, scientific equipment, capacity building and research by German and African scientists in the last five years.

Announcement: Application Process for Doctoral and Master’s Fellowships at the Graduate Studies Program has been extended

Please note: The call for application has been extended to January 22, 2016.

WASCAL (West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) is a large-scale research-focused Climate Service Center designed to help tackle severe challenges posed by climate change and thereby enhance the resilience of human and environmental systems to climate change and increased variability. It does so by strengthening the research infrastructure and capacity in West Africa related to climate change and by pooling the expertise of ten West African countries and Germany. Through the Graduate Studies Program WASCAL’s Capacity Building Program helps educate the next generation of scientists to attain an intimate knowledge of different climate related issues in order to help the region develop suitable management strategies.

The WASCAL Graduate Studies Program supports four Master’s and six Doctoral Programs implemented at ten lead Universities across West African countries. WASCAL provides full scholarships to the Doctoral and Master’s students in all the ten lead Universities with comprehensive training and research support. Doctoral students may spend up to six months at a host institution in Germany. The language of instruction is English. English and French language training programs are provided for all graduate students. Graduate students have access to the research facilities set up through WASCAL funding and located at various watersheds in West Africa. German partner universities collaborate with the Doctoral and Master’s Programs in the areas of curriculum development, visiting professorships and co-supervision of graduate students.

The WASCAL Graduate Studies Program offers its students:

High quality research and education on climate change and its impact on human environmental systems.
Up to six months at a host institution in Germany (Doctoral Programs only!)
Interdisciplinary working approach
International lecturers and supervisors
English language classes
Scholarship and research budget, including a personal laptop computer

Doctoral Programs

West African Climate System
Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Nigeria
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form and the recommendation letter

Climate Change and Water Resources
Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC), Benin
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change Economics
Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD), Senegal
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Biodiversity
Université Felix Houphouet Boigny (formerly Université de Cocody‐Abidjan), Côte d‘Ivoire
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Land Use
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana
Apply now: Download call for applications and referee form and application form

Climate Change and Agriculture
L’Institut Polytechnique Rural de Formation et de Recherche Appliquée, (IPR-IFRA), Mali and University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Time Frame

The time frame of the doctoral programs is three and a half years. During the first three months, students take English and/or French language classes and common courses at the language centers. During the next 6 months student participate in lectures at their Graduate Research Program and prepare their proposals. After their proposals have been approved by their supervisors, the students conduct their field research for 12 to 24 months. For the remaining period of time, students will write up their thesis and are offered to spend up to six months at a German host institution.

Requirements

Candidates applying for a Doctoral Program must have a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline in addition to a BSc degree (second class upper division).
Citizenship in one of the WASCAL member country (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Sénegal, Togo)
Five credits including Mathematics and English Language that are also equivalent to Francophone university grading system
Gender-balanced selection decision
Applicant should show proficiency in English Language.
Meet additional requirement of the lead university

Master’s Programs

Climate Change and Human Security
University of Lomé, Togo
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Education
University of The Gambia (UTG), The Gambia
Apply now: Download application form

Climate Change and Energy
Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (UAM), Niger
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Adapted Land Use
Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria
Apply now: Download application form

Time Frame

The time frame for the Master’s programs is two years. During the first year students participate in the course program of their Graduate Research Program and work on their research outline. Research will be conducted during the second year within a period of six to nine months. Students finish the program with writing up their thesis during the last three to six month.

Requirements

Candidates applying for Master’s Program must have a minimum BSc degree (second class upper division) in a discipline relevant to the respective program.
Citizenship in one of the WASCAL member country (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Sénegal, Togo)
Five credits including Mathematics and English Language that are also equivalent to Francophone university grading system
Gender-balanced selection decision
Applicant should show proficiency in English Language.
Meet additional requirement of the lead university

Application Process

The application process is handled jointly by WASCAL and the individual Graduate Programs. Applications can be submitted online to any of the Graduate Studies Program for the 2015/2015 season until January 22, 2016. The details of the application process can be found at the respective programs pages (see linkes above). Shortlisted candidates will be contacted and invited for interviews by January 29, 2016.

More information on the Graduate Studies Program and on open applications can be found here or at the respective universities websites.

Thesis Research Awards for Non-WASCAL Sponsored West African Nationals

Update: The deadline has been postponed to february 29, 2016

Applicants must have completed all course requirements for the degree as well as be in the research and/or writing phase of the dissertation. The dissertation must be on climate change and any of the thematic areas of biodiversity, agriculture, adapted land use, climate systems, education, human security, economics and energy. In addition, applicants should not have received any other funding to support the dissertation activities outlined in the PhD or MSc proposal/budget. Priority is given to candidates pursuing a career in government ministries, research and/or teaching at a public institution in West Africa.
Requests should be supported by the following documentation:

Evidence of an attachment to, or sponsorship by, an institution in West Africa engaged in government ministries, research and/or training in the public sector in the region.
Evidence of registration in a recognized PhD or MSc program in a relevant area.
An approved research proposal, complete with clearly defined objectives, substantial literature review and a well-outlined analytical framework, as well as pertinent research methodology.
A statement of limitations and policy relevance of the study.
A letter of reference from the thesis supervisor, and a letter of institutional support from the Head of Department.
A detailed budget including evidence of any additional financial support that may be necessary to complete the program.
Curriculum vitae.

Processing of Application for PhD Thesis Research Award

Upon the receipt of the proposal and the supporting documentation, it is sent to two external reviewers in the relevant programs of the WASCAL Graduate Studies Program, who comment on the adequacy of the proposal. In the event that the reviewers suggest corrections to be made and give positive feedback, the comments are sent to the students to incorporate and then resubmit the revised proposal for a final review. Once the proposal is cleared by at least two reviewers, it is presented together with the comments from the external reviewers to the Thesis Grant Sub-Committee of the Graduate Studies Program, who will go through the recommendations of the reviewers and make recommendation to the Capacity Building Department of WASCAL to approve for thesis funding. It is after this that research grants can be awarded.
Application Deadlines for 2015/2016 Academic Session

The PhD and MSc Thesis Research Awards applications deadline is January 30, February 29, 2016.
Proposal and supporting documents for thesis grant should be sent to:
The Director of Capacity Building,
WASCAL Accra Office, CSIR Office Complex,
Agostino Neto Road, Airport Residential Area, PMB CT 504, Cantonments-Accra.
Email: intern.w(at)wascal.org; weto.s(at)wascal.org

Announcement: Application Process for Doctoral and Master’s Fellowships at the Graduate Studies Program Started

Note: The call for application has been extended to January 22, 2016. Read more

WASCAL (West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) is a large-scale research-focused Climate Service Center designed to help tackle severe challenges posed by climate change and thereby enhance the resilience of human and environmental systems to climate change and increased variability. It does so by strengthening the research infrastructure and capacity in West Africa related to climate change and by pooling the expertise of ten West African countries and Germany. Through the Graduate Studies Program WASCAL’s Capacity Building Program helps educate the next generation of scientists to attain an intimate knowledge of different climate related issues in order to help the region develop suitable management strategies.

The WASCAL Graduate Studies Program supports four Master’s and six Doctoral Programs implemented at ten lead Universities across West African countries. WASCAL provides full scholarships to the Doctoral and Master’s students in all the ten lead Universities with comprehensive training and research support. Doctoral students may spend up to six months at a host institution in Germany. The language of instruction is English. English and French language training programs are provided for all graduate students. Graduate students have access to the research facilities set up through WASCAL funding and located at various watersheds in West Africa. German partner universities collaborate with the Doctoral and Master’s Programs in the areas of curriculum development, visiting professorships and co-supervision of graduate students.

The WASCAL Graduate Studies Program offers its students:

High quality research and education on climate change and its impact on human environmental systems.
Up to six months at a host institution in Germany (Doctoral Programs only!)
Interdisciplinary working approach
International lecturers and supervisors
English language classes
Scholarship and research budget, including a personal laptop computer

Doctoral Programs

West African Climate System
Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Nigeria
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form and the recommendation letter

Climate Change and Water Resources
Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC), Benin
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change Economics
Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD), Senegal
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Biodiversity
Université Felix Houphouet Boigny (formerly Université de Cocody‐Abidjan), Côte d‘Ivoire
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Land Use
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana
Apply now: Download call for applications and referee form and application form

Climate Change and Agriculture
L’Institut Polytechnique Rural de Formation et de Recherche Appliquée, (IPR-IFRA), Mali and University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Time Frame

The time frame of the doctoral programs is three and a half years. During the first three months, students take English and/or French language classes and common courses at the language centers. During the next 6 months student participate in lectures at their Graduate Research Program and prepare their proposals. After their proposals have been approved by their supervisors, the students conduct their field research for 12 to 24 months. For the remaining period of time, students will write up their thesis and are offered to spend up to six months at a German host institution.

Requirements

Candidates applying for a Doctoral Program must have a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline in addition to a BSc degree (second class upper division).
Citizenship in one of the WASCAL member country (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Sénegal, Togo)
Five credits including Mathematics and English Language that are also equivalent to Francophone university grading system
Gender-balanced selection decision
Applicant should show proficiency in English Language.
Meet additional requirement of the lead university

Master’s Programs

Climate Change and Human Security
University of Lomé, Togo
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Education
University of The Gambia (UTG), The Gambia
Apply now: Download application form

Climate Change and Energy
Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (UAM), Niger
Apply now: Download call for applications and application form

Climate Change and Adapted Land Use
Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria
Apply now: Download application form

Time Frame

The time frame for the Master’s programs is two years. During the first year students participate in the course program of their Graduate Research Program and work on their research outline. Research will be conducted during the second year within a period of six to nine months. Students finish the program with writing up their thesis during the last three to six month.

Requirements

Candidates applying for Master’s Program must have a minimum BSc degree (second class upper division) in a discipline relevant to the respective program.
Citizenship in one of the WASCAL member country (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Sénegal, Togo)
Five credits including Mathematics and English Language that are also equivalent to Francophone university grading system
Gender-balanced selection decision
Applicant should show proficiency in English Language.
Meet additional requirement of the lead university

Application Process

Note: The call for application has been extended to January 22, 2016. Read more

The application process is handled jointly by WASCAL and the individual Graduate Programs. Applications can be submitted online to any of the Graduate Studies Program for the 2015/2015 season until January 8, 2016. The details of the application process can be found at the respective programs pages (see linkes above). Shortlisted candidates will be contacted and invited for interviews by January 15, 2016.

More information on the Graduate Studies Program and on open applications can be found here or at the respective universities websites.

Focus on Young Researchers: Farmer Innovation in Rural Ghana: Determinants, Impacts and Identification

Why were you interested in farmer innovations, and what exactly have you been looking at?

My PhD research was on the identification, determinants and welfare impacts of farmer innovation in rural Ghana. Research institutions have developed numerous technologies that are being disseminated to farmers for adoption. However, many smallholders do not adopt these technologies due to, inter alia, lack of accessibility, high costs, and inappropriateness of the technologies for their local conditions. Some farmers are very creative and have developed their own locally-adapted innovations to address the challenges they face. However, if you look at the agricultural innovation literature, most of the studies focus on the externally-driven innovations developed by researchers, while those developed by farmers are often neglected or under-valued. So my research, in contrast to existing studies, looks at famer innovations. I examined if farmer innovations can also play a role in the livelihoods of rural farm households, and how to build the capacity of farmers to generate more innovations.

Where in Ghana did you do your research and how long did you stay there?

I conducted my field research in the Upper East region of Ghana from August 2012 to May 2013.

The field research was carried out in the Upper East region – partly because it is one of the selected areas for the implementation of the Core Research Program of WASCAL. Moreover, Upper East is a rural region with high population density, low food security, limited infrastructural services and increasing challenges such as climate change and soil infertility, and such a challenging environment is where one expects to find many local innovations.

The first part of my research involves identification of promising innovations developed by farmers. To identify the innovations, I assisted my tutor, Dr. Tobias Wünscher who was implementing an innovation contest throughout the region between August and November 2012. In the contest, farmers competed for prizes by presenting their independently developed innovations. The top three innovators were awarded prizes during the National Farmers Day celebration. I also collected survey data from 409 farm households in three districts (Kassena Nankana East, Kassena Nankana West and Bongo) in the region. This data was used in analysing the drivers and impacts of farmer innovations.
How are farmer innovations related to climate change?

Most of the identified farmer innovations are yield-related, but these innovations are locally adapted and help to cushion the effects of climate change. Some farmer innovations also emerge in response to environmental shocks. One of the main findings of my study is that farmers who develop innovations are more resilient to climate shocks than non-innovators.

What makes farmers innovate and how do farmer innovations contribute (or not) to household welfare?

Farmers innovate out of curiosity or coincidence or the need to increase production and solve problems. I also found that a Farmer Field Fora (FFF) program, which is being implemented by the Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, helps to build the capacity of farmers to innovate. The FFF is a platform for innovation and mutual learning among agricultural stakeholders, particularly farmers, extension agents and researchers. I analyzed the effect of farmer innovations on a number of household welfare indicators, and I found that farmer innovations play an essential role in the livelihoods of farm households. For instance, I found that farmer innovations significantly improve the income and consumption expenditure of the innovators. The innovations also contribute significantly to the reduction of food insecurity among the innovative households by increasing food consumption expenditure, and by reducing the length of the hungry season.

What were your most exciting findings?

Among the most interesting findings of my research is that farmers do not only adopt but also generate innovations. Farmer innovations may emerge by coincidence, but it can also be stimulated through capacity building programs such as the FFF. Also, farmer innovations can complement the innovations developed by public and private research institutions in addressing the challenges farmers face and in reducing rural poverty. Finally, the opportunity to win prizes through a contest can serve as an incentive for farmers to reveal their innovations instead of keeping them in secrecy.
How and when did you start your doctoral studies at the Center of Development Research (ZEF) in the WASCAL Research Program?

I started searching for PhD opportunities soon after completing my Master studies at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. I applied to a vacancy announcement by Dr. Tobias Wünscher, who was searching for a PhD student to work on local innovations within the WASCAL program at ZEF. I was in Bonn to participate in the “Tropentag” 2011 conference, and I visited ZEF after the conference, where I met Dr. Wünscher and was invited for an impromptu interview. I later had a phone interview with Prof. Joachim von Braun and was then offered the position, which I gladly accepted.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding my PhD studies at ZEF through the WASCAL program. I am also grateful to my supervisor, Prof. Joachim von Braun for guiding me in my research and to my tutor, Dr. Tobias Wünscher for his help in bringing my thesis to fruition.
Background

Justice conducted his research in the WASCAL work package 3.3 on Farmer’s Perceptions, led by Dr. Tobias Wünscher. He successfully defended his thesis on May 5, 2015. He has since been working as a senior researcher at ZEF within WASCAL. He succeeded Dr. Marc Müller, who started working with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.
Related publications:

Tambo, Justice A. and Tobias Wünscher 2014. Identification and prioritization of farmers’ innovations in northern Ghana. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, available on CJO2014. doi:10.1017/S1742170514000374

Related topics

Contact: Justice Tambo, tambojustice(at)yahoo.com