Vice Chancellor of KNUST acknowledges WASCAL’s contributions to post graduate education

The Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor William O. Ellis has acknowledged the immense contribution of WASCAL to graduate studies at the university. This, he stated, was evident in the ultra-modern WASCAL edifice which had been put up to help promote graduate studies in climate change in West Africa.

Professor Ellis was speaking at the 50th congregation of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. WASCAL, in partnership with the university runs a doctoral degree programme for West African students in Climate Change and Adapted Land Use.

In totality, 51 graduands, including 10 from WASCAL were awarded with various PhD degrees. This was the highest number of PhD graduands ever in the history of the University, according to records from the School of Graduate Studies.

Prof. Ellis urged the graduands to go out and support the industrial and socio-economic development of Ghana and Africa through the professional knowledge and skills acquired with the world-class education obtained at KNUST.

In his congratulatory message at a special side event organised for WASCAL graduands on the same day, the director in charge of the WASCAL Graduate Research Program (GRP) at KNUST, Professor Samuel Odai, praised the graduands for their hard work, resilience and tenacity to overcome the pressure that came with the pursuit of the course. He also challenged them to go make intensive impact in the sub-Region while marketing the image of WASCAL.

This is the 2nd batch of PhD graduates of KNUST who have benefited from the full scholarship of WASCAL under the sponsorship of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF), since its inception in 2012.

Bilateral workshop between WASCAL and NASA held

The workshop was to explore possible collaboration areas between the two international outfits. NASA is the United States government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space.

Participants from WASCAL included the Executive Director, Dr. Laurent Sedogo and Director of Capacity Building, Prof Janet Adelegan. Also in attendance is the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee, Prof. Jim Adegoke. The officials from NASA comprised Dr. Charles Ichoku and Dr. Richard Damoah.

Capacity building training for accountants held in Accra

The Capacity Building Department of WASCAL organized a two day training at its headquarters in Accra for all its accountants in the ten lead Universities within West Africa.

The training was to expose participants to the latest trends in accounting while strengthening the capacity in financial reporting. The training also forms part of WASCAL’s commitment to strengthening financial departments of its Graduate Schools.

With support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), WASCAL is dedicated to becoming one of Africa’s Climate Change Research think-tanks, while building the Capacity of the next generation of Climate Scientists in West Africa.

WASCAL & SASSCAL showcase climate works in Africa at adaptation futures in the Netherlands

WASCAL showcased the strong efforts it continues to put in place towards the adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change in Africa. Adaptation Futures is the biennial conference of the Global Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA). In 2016 the European Commission and the Government of the Netherlands co-host the fourth edition.

It is a conference and market-place for practices and solutions; a place where ties are strengthened between science and practice The expo formed part of WASCAL/SASSCAL’s’s commitment to showcase their success stories in West and Southern Africa and to build strong ties and partnership with global players in the Climate Change sector.

WASCAL receives 230,000 EURO grant for climate change research for a three-year period

WASCAL’s APTE-21 project aims at exploring and exploiting the potential advantage of rainfall extremes for smallholder farming. In particular, the project strives to improve the production, access and use of local information about high-impact weather and climate events provided for family farms in Bakel (Senegal), Ouahigouya, Dano (Burkina Faso) and Bolgatanga (Ghana).

WASCAL’s APTE-21 project will use pro-active and participatory dissemination protocols such as “climate field schools”, community co-production, advisory and new technologies such as mobile phones, apps, and internet for providing agricultural-climatic information extensions. It will also build small on-farm infrastructure to alleviate negative impacts of rainfall extremes.

Capacity building of actors and exchange of experiences are key goals of the project. Therefore, APTE-21 project capitalizes on the achievements of previous projects and trains high school students, while promoting gender equity.

The APTE-21 project will be coordinated and implemented by WASCAL in collaboration with the Direction Generale de la Meteorologie (Burkina Faso), ANACIM (Senegal), ENDA-Energie (Niger), HydroScience Montpelier, CIRAD, LOCEAN and IRD (France).

For more information, please contact the Principal Investigator Seyni Salack, Senior Climate Scientist at the WASCAL Competence Center, 06 BP 9507 Ouagadougou 06, Burkina Faso, e-mail: salack.s@wascal.org, Tel: +226-25-37-54-29.

WASCAL co-organizes PRESAO 2016 of the World Meteorological Organization

WASCAL has been granted the privilege of co-organizing the 3rd edition of PRÉvisions Saisonnières en Afrique de l’Ouest (PRESAO) for the Sudan-Sahel region of West Africa (PRESASS-03).

PRESASS-03 is an annual forum from May-July organized by ACMAD (African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development) and AGRHYMET for all West African meteorological, hydrological and agronomic institutions.

The overall goal is to derive consensus forecasts for the forthcoming rainy season (June-September). All West African countries are involved, including the 15 ECOWAS countries, Mauritania, Tchad, Central African Republic, and Cameroon in addition to other resource persons from the USA, Italy, France, and Germany.

This year, the event takes place at WASCAL’s premises at the Competence Center in Ouagadougou. Co-organizer is “la Direction Generale de la Meteorologie” (DGM) of Burkina Faso. The pre-forum is May 16-19, 2016 for parallel workshop sessions with all scientists and a press conference on May 20 with all officials such as ministries and the state secretary of Burkina Faso, the directors of organizing institutions etc.

New Wascal Logo

The new logo was approved and confirmed during the last governing board meeting held in Bonn, Germany. The new logo reflects the values and tells the story of the mission of WASCAL in its bid to remain a strong brand in West Africa.

The logo contains an African map. It underlines strength and the outline of Africa represents the root, identity and sense of ownership of WASCAL as an indigenous institution that serves Africa.

Next, there are pearls of rings on West Africa, symbolizing the West African countries being pulled together by the string of pearls (something fragile, but can be very beautiful) representing WASCAL’s ability to adapt to initiatives. The various colours signifies the beauty of unity and oneness.

The colours of the logo are light Blue and shades of Gray.

The new logo registers the strong presence and intent of WASCAL as an indigenous organization that seeks to unify players in the climate sector in West Africa
The new logo, has come to replace the existing one. For further information on the use of the logo for other forms of internal and external communication, all are advised to contact the Public Relations office in Accra, Ghana. Welcome to the new phase and face of WASCAL.

FOR FURTHER ENQUIRIES, CONTACT: PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT,ACCRA,+233 244 99 24 30, nii.commey@wascal.org

Joint courses for WASCAL students

The courses will last until June 4. The 69 francophone students are located in Kumasi, Ghana, to improve their English skills, while 31 English speaking students are in Lomé, Togo, for intensive French language courses. In parallel, both are taught the basics in Statistics and Geostatistics, Remote Sensing/GIS, Climate Systems, Climate Change Impacts, and Research Methodology in two-week modules.

Despite the tight schedule (usually from 8am to 6pm in Kumasi, and from 7am to 4.30pm in Lomé), the lecturers emphasized the students’ motivation and eagerness to learn about climate change. Besides the scientific training, the students can benefit from working together, which can have positive effects in terms of network building for their future career, one lecturer said.

The students also expressed their determination to successfully complete the program. They said the program was increasing their awareness of the importance of climate change and their willingness to contribute to their respective country’s future development with regard to climate change.

After their joint courses in Kumasi and Lomé, the Graduate students will be go to the WASCAL Competence Center in Ouagadougou for another week of training with the Competence Center staff and for attending a lecture on WASCAL Data Management. In mid-June all students will then go back to their respective Lead University for an intensive course program focused on the particular research area of their Graduate School. After finishing this course program the students will submit their final research proposal for their master’s and doctoral theses.

New book on “Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability in Rural West Africa” published

The book provides conceptual and empirical discussions of adaptation to climate change/variability in rural West Africa. It brings on-board country experiences in adaptation by different socio-economic groups and efforts at building adaptive capacity.

It presents a holistic understanding of adaptation and shows contextual and generic sources of adaptive capacity. Focusing on adaptation to climate change/variability is critical because the development challenges of rural West Africa have been historically intertwined with its climate.

Moreover, emerging patterns of climate change are inextricably linked to developmental issues today for West Africa’s agrarian communities with high numbers of the population earning a living directly and indirectly from the natural environment.

WASCAL research members and the research network contributed to it. You can find the book at http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-31499-0

“THERE IS NO OTHER INSTITUTION IN WEST AFRICA TACKLING RESEARCH, CAPACITY BUILDING AND SERVICE PROVISION FOR CLIMATE CHANGE IN THIS WAY”

You have been appointed Scientific Director and Head of the Competence Center of WASCAL as of May 1, 2016. The first function of Scientific Director is new, so what will be your “tasks” to fulfill?

Of course, it is quite challenging to be the new scientific director of WASCAL, as science is the backbone of the program. My first task will be to conduct an assessment of what has been done so far in the whole research system. Based on this, we can write up a new strategy and research plan up to 2017. The second major goal is scaling up our fundraising efforts, as fundraising is critical for the sustainability of WASCAL. My third point is that we have to ensure that the capacity building program is strongly interrelated to research, so that impact becomes more visible.

You have an extended professional background in ecology and soil sciences. So what brought you to WASCAL and which experiences you made do you consider crucial for handling the WASCAL program?

I call myself an agro-ecologist. Agro-ecology is key to building up resilient landscapes in West Africa. I have been able to participate in several projects in West Africa over the past seven years. My experiences as a soil scientist will be key in achieving some of the goals WASCAL is targeting. WASCAL is focusing on climate change, specifically on the adaptation of climate change. I have, for example, been able to establish a strong network of soil scientists in West Africa which I can build on. One major issue in West Africa is sustainable land management: how to produce enough food for the growing population and how people can make money out of that. To achieve this in our region, we have to conduct more sustainable land management and develop strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change. Before I joined WASCAL I was working with ICRAF, where we tackled the issue of climate change mitigation. We were looking into how to build on the knowledge of local people and how they can get money from xxx trees and selling non-timber products. So I think my professional background can be useful.

What made WASCAL so attractive for you that you wanted to take over this challenging task of directing it?

WASCAL provides a unique opportunity that brings together capacity building, research, and service provision in order to tackle climate change. Of course, there are several institutions in West Africa dealing with climate change, but not in that way. That is the comparative advantage of WASCAL. The prospective that activities will be handed over to African actors is also appealing. It is really challenging that the opportunity of managing these tasks has been given to an African to see how he can best fulfill these goals and implement this program. So for me it is a great opportunity.

What are your personal goals and your vision with regard to the WASCAL program?

First of all, we should be able to fund ourselves to ensure the sustainability of this program. So far, we have been mainly funded by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) but this funding will not last forever. So we have to be able to raise funds ourselves to survive. My second overall goal is to build up WASCAL as a center of competence in climate change issues. Climate change is one of the constraints with regard to agricultural production and building up healthy socio-ecological landscapes. So in order to be able to mitigate the impact of climate change we rely on research and on capacity building. We also need to scale up practices that improve agricultural production. I think WASCAL is on the right track of becoming a regional center of excellence.

What are the weaknesses of WASCAL in your opinion and what are the main challenges to tackle?

The link between capacity building and research is not strong enough yet. We have to find ways to improve that. There is also a gap between the Core Research Program and the Research component of WASCAL. We have to bring the activities together so we have the same goals on the ground. Our impact has to become more visible and more effective. But we also have some achievements to be content with: We have enough African states backing us up. A research and administrative infrastructure was set up over the past five-six years. The vision is to have a center of excellence focusing on research activities that can generate impact on the ground, improve the livelihoods of small holder farmers, and be adapted in a number of states. One big issue in Africa is that new technologies are not taken up by farmers, policy-makers and stakeholders. So one of the challenges of WASCAL is to achieve sustainable land management and reducing poverty.

What are the main challenges which West Africa will be facing in terms of climate change and variability in the coming ten years?

Figures provided by the United Nations project an increase in the world’s population to up to nine billion people. What this means for West Africa we do not know yet. We certainly will need an increase in food production for our growing population. So WASCAL can close that gap by providing information on climate issues in the coming years. However, I do not see WASCAL as a service center for climate only, but for environmental issues in general. Another big issue in West Africa is the loss of biodiversity. Do we know enough about the rate, about the biodiversity hotspots in the landscape of West Africa? We do have some figures, but they are outdated. We need up-to-date information on biodiversity, carbon sequestration, potential emission of CO2, etc. WASCAL, in cooperation with its international partners, can do that. So I think that WASCAL is key in implementing environmental policies in West Africa.

I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to the German Government and the BMBF for funding WASCAL.

The interview was conducted by Alma van der Veen

WASCAL has a new Governing Board

WASCAL has a new Governing Board. Its members were appointed at the latest Board Meeting which took place in Bonn, Germany, on April 14 (meeting of former Governing Board) and April 15 (meeting of new Governing Board).

The new Governing Board consists of the following members:

Mr. Peter Dery, Chairman (Ghana), Prof. Abdourahamane Konare (Cote d’Ivoire), Prof. Yacouba Zerbo (Burkina Faso), Prof. Brice Sinsin (Benin), Mr. Wilfried Kraus (Germany), Dr. Momodou Njie (The Gambia), Prof. Modibo Haidara (Mali), Mouhamadou Hassirou (Niger), Prof. Adeniyi Osuntogun (Nigeria), Prof. Amadou Ndiaye (Senegal), Dr. Akossiwa Quashie (Togo) and Dr. Johnson Boanuh (Ex-Officio Board member representing ECOWAS).