ReHCONS Workshop: Connecting West Africa’s Meteorological and Hydrological Services in a Regional Observation Network

Approximately 80 experts from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, research institutions and universities of the WASCAL mandate region participated in the workshop. The workshop was opened by Dr. Laurent Sédogo, Executive Director of WASCAL, Dr. Dr. Dietrich Pohl, Ambassador of the German Embassy in Ouagadougou, and Prof. Filiga Michel Sawadogo, Minister of Secondary, Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Currently, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NHHS) face many challenges to maintain their data collection stations and to provide conclusive meteorological and hydrological data. The network density of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services is low in many West African countries and below standards recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Frequent failures in equipment lead to gaps in the data records. The NMHS stated problems concerning data archiving, quality control and analysis including deficiencies in staff number (mostly affected by personnel retirement) and capacity building.

Dr. Laurent Sédogo, Executive Director of WASCAL, stressed the importance of working together in the effort to combat climate change: “It is only together that we can handle the issue of climate change. Not every single country has the scientific capacity, the human capacity, and the technical capacity to tackle climate change. For the northern countries climate change may be a scenario of the future, but we in West Africa, we already live the reality of climate change.” “WASCAL aims to assess, connect and enhance the existing national observation networks”, explains Dr. Boubacar Barry, director of the WASCAL Competence Center. “Such cooperation would benefit all participants.” WASCAL will provide the networks with a number of stations to fill the gaps in the network. Training of staff members will further contribute to a successful running of the stations. WASCAL’s data infrastructure will serve as a shared dissemination platform. Based on the data provided by the national services, WASCAL in return will be able to improve models, climate change scenarios and offer climate service to stakeholders for the West African region.

The workshop followed two regional workshops organized by WASCAL in August 2010 during which the Directors and representatives of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services presented the history and the current situation of their respective organizations, on tasks, weaknesses and strengths as well as their expectations of how WASCAL can support and strengthen the West African observation networks on climate and water resources. “Following up with the results from the workshops in 2010, we now established a timeline and agreed on a communique to line out the further steps towards the establishment of the Regional Hydro-Climate Observation Network. Another important result was the drafting of a joint Data Sharing Policy, which regulates the rights and regulations concerning data exchange” summarized Dr. Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla, Coordinator of the WASCAL Observation Networks.


Coordinator Observation Networks: Dr. M. B. Sylla, sylla.b(at), syllabamba(at)

Press and Public Relations: Jelana Vajen, press(at)

OUR CLIMATE: THINK.ACT.CHANGE! – Inauguration of the Climate Change Awareness Park for Children

The Mmofra Foundation Climate Change Awareness Park for Children was inaugurated by the Minister of Lands and Mineral Resources of Ghana, Mr. Nii Osah Mills, in presence of the ambassador of Germany in Ghana, Mr. John Ruediger, the Executive Director of WASCAL, Dr. Laurent Sedogo, the Chairperson of the Mmofra Foundation Board of Directors, Mr. Christian Reindorf, the Director of the Foundation, Prof Esi Sutherland, a representative of the British High Commission in Ghana and several other personalities.
Education is an essential element of the global response to climate change. It helps young people understand and address the impact of global warming. In view of the above, the German Embassy in Ghana funded a Climate Change Awareness and Education project developed by Mmofra Foundation in collaboration with WASCAL MRP Climate Change Education / University of The Gambia. The Project seeks to extend the impact of Mmofra Foundation’s unique community children’s park and to give the students of the WASCAL MRP Climate change and education hands-on experience in the area of education and awareness raising concerns on climate change.

In his address during the ceremony, Dr. Sedogo expressed WASCAL’s appreciation to the Germany embassy for funding and giving the opportunity to students to have a hands on experience and support their journey to raise the awareness of younger generations. He also mentioned that the initiative also provided WASCAL a platform to extend its activities to the broader community through partnership with a nongovernmental organization – the Mmofra Foundation. During the ceremony, the children actively participated in the amusement and entertainment of the audience through performance of sketch which were very educative and informative.
The exhibition for the climate change awareness park for children was officially launched by the Hon.Minister. The items displayed for the exhibition were conceptualized by the WASCAL students. They also served as the facilitators and guides throughout the exhibitions. The things that were displayed at the exhibition were in a chronological order in which visitors moved from the general information about the climate to the causes, effects, adaptation, mitigation and the way forward of climate change. The last two features to be seen were the aquaponics and the biofuel toilet. The project climate change awareness park for children which has been officially launched will contribute to raise public awareness especially children on climate change. It is of great importance that the child, future leader be aware that when the last tree dies the last man will die.

By the students MRP & Climate Education, UTG.


Dr. Musa Sowe
Director Master’s Research Program Climate Change and Education
Email: msowe(at)

First Master Students Graduated in Climate Change and Human Security at the Univesity of Lomé

Akangoa R. Abora, Olusegun Adeyemi Adegbile, Idelbert Dagbegnon Behanzin, Mahamadou M. Dicko, Agossou Gadedjisso-Tossou, Malan Ketcha Kablan, Abravi Essenam Kissi, Issoufou Liman Harou, Diouf Ousmane Sane, and Abroulaye Sanfo successfully completed the program. The students who participated in the truly international program come from Togo, Niger, Nigéria, Mali, Bénin, Côte d’Ivoire, Sénégal, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.

The graduation ceremony was honored by the attendance of Mrs. Dzifa Ama Gameti who represented the Ministry of Higher Education and Research of Togo. The president of the University of Lomé and member of the WASCAL Governing Board Prof. Messanvi Gbeassor, Dr Laurent Sédogo, Executive Director of WASCAL and Prof. Kouami Kokou, Director of the Master Program Climate Change and Human Security expressed their gratitude to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the national and international partners who support the program. „We are well equipped and well qualified to apply tools and methodologies for assessing the impacts of climate change on populations to ensure human security and the fight against the negative and harmful effects of climate change on their business activities and other.“ said Abravi Essenam Kissi.

The Master Program Climate Change and Education started in November 2012. The second batch of students started course work in 2013.


Prof. Kouami Kokou,
Director of the Master Program Climate Change and Human Security

WASCAL‘s first graduates – Ten students successfully completed their Master‘s degree in Climate Change and Adapted Land Use at FUT-Minna

Thirteenth (13th) October 2014 will remain a ‘memorable day’ in the history of WASCAL CC & ALU hosted by the Federal University of Technology, Minna. The MRP scored a big first in the WASCAL programme….sending forth the first set of WASCAL graduates into the research community to give back to the world after the huge investment on them as scientists. Two years of hard work finally paid off.

Our August dignitaries graced the occasion. Prof Musbau A. Akanji (the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna) and his team of Principal Officers received the guests which comprised the Honorable Minister of Environment of Nigeria, who was very unavoidably absent but ably represented by Dr Jare Adejuwon, the Director of Climate Change Department in the Ministry; the German Ambassador to Nigeria who was ably represented by Mr Dirk Schulz; Chairman of WASCAL Board (Prof Haidara), WASCAL Board member representing Nigeria and Second Vice Chairman (Prof Osuntogun); Executive Director and his team (Dr Sedogo, Ouattara and Mr Ofori); The Vice Chancellor of FUTA ably represented by Prof Bayo Omotosho; representatives of our two German Partner Universities (Dr Thiel and Mrs Boutros, who is also the GRP/MRP Coordinator of WASCAL); members of WASCAL CC&ALU International Regional Advisory Board comprising Prof Bayo Omotosho (Director WACS FUTA), Dr Eric Forkuo (representing KNUST), Dr Georges Abbey (representing University of Lome), Mrs Christine K (from HBF representing the Civil Society), Dr Jare Adejuwon (representing Focal Ministry); members of FUT Minna Advisory Board led by the Dean of Postgraduate School, Prof (Mrs) Stella Zubairu; staff and students of WASCAL and representatives of the Press.

The ‘big day’ tagged WASCAL DAY commenced with the ceremony marking the graduation of the 2012/2013 Batch of WASCAL CC &ALU students. While the sponsoring Ministry in Germany, BMBF was showered with gratitude for the foresight demonstrated through the WASCAL programme, congratulatory and encouraging messages were passed on to the students to be worthy Ambassadors of WASCAL. The commitment of the Nigerian Government to the successful implementation of WASCAL was emphasized by the Honourable Minister’s representative. To add glamour to the occasion, the traditional dancers, Gwape Troupe, invited to entertain the guests decided to invite dignitaries to the ‘shake body’ to the entertaining music. From there, the newly completed WASCAL CC & ALU building was commissioned. The guests were introduced to WASCAL by the Director CC & ALU at the reception, while along the corridors of this simple but beautiful building, A0 Size posters were exhibited showcasing the students’ research. Each student stood beside his/her poster to explain the content to the guests. During the luncheon organized to round up activities for the day, three students were recognized and presented with personalized plaques: Mr SANOGO, Karamoko (Most improrved student); Miss KIMA, Sophie A. (Best Research); and Mr ADENLE, Ademola Andrew (The Overall Best Student). The 2012/2013 Batch of WASCAL CC & ALU graduates have since left for their various countries as the very first ALUMNI of the programme. The Director of CC&ALU gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the University Management, guests and WASCAL staff and students to the success of the WASCAL DAY in FUT Minna.

Read more on the event at


Dr. Appollonia Okhimamhe
Director of the Master Research Program Climate Change and Adapted Land Use
Associate Professor of Geography
Head, Department of Geography
Federal University of Technology,
PMB 65, Niger State, NIGERIA
Email: aimiosino(at)

2014 World Agriculture Prize awarded to world-renowned soil scientist Paul Vlek, former Executive Director of WASCAL

In his early career Paul Vlek researched the benefits in preventing nitrogen (N) losses by deep-placement of urea in flooded rice, a technology now applied on over 2 million ha of rice cultivation today. However having experienced the long delay between discovery and adoption of this technology, Paul Vlek drew attention “to the all too often delay between invention of new agricultural practice and adoption which can run into decades. New approaches in agricultural research are needed to avoid such time lapses by engaging and integrating all stakeholders in the innovation process from the onset of research”.

This interdisciplinary research approach has been a hallmark of Paul Vlek’s career working in Africa, Uzbekistan and elsewhere to ensure the research outcomes lead to innovation and adopted new practice. An example was the GLOWA Volta project in West Africa (2000-2010), an interdisciplinary program addressing the impact of global climate change and water management in the region.

The award is presented by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA), with Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU). They established the GCHERA World Agricultural Prize, which was first awarded in 2013, to recognize the contribution of a faculty member from an agricultural and life science university who has significantly contributed to the mission of the university through education, research and knowledge transfer for the benefit of society. This annual award is given for the second time in 2014.

Professor ZHOU Guanghong, the President of Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU), welcomed Paul Vlek to the GCHERA 2014 World Agricultural Prize Award Ceremony on September 20 and John Kennelly, President of GCHERA, announced him as the World Agriculture Prize Laureate 2014 during GCHERA’s Annual Meeting at NAU.

John Kennelly held up Professor Paul Vlek as a most deserving recipient of the World Agriculture Prize based on his outstanding contributions to education, research and service on the sustainable use of natural resources over a career that has spanned 40 years.

“This recognition as an example to others is particularly timely as we face the challenge of reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture while increasing food production to meet the needs of a rapidly growing world population,” he said.

In his acceptance speech Paul Vlek highlighted that “agriculture is a complex socio-ecological endeavour with many trade-offs. To better guide our land-stewards (farmers) and policymakers, the next generation of agricultural scientists must be trained in the modern tools of complexity science and be able to work across disciplines and with multiple partners and stakeholders. “

“Only with such interdisciplinary understanding will the serious threat of land degradation to food security and to the delivery of essential ecosystem services be addressed. The cost of rehabilitation of degraded land, a non-renewable resource, can be prohibitive. The agricultural scientific community must place this concern much higher on its research and educational agendas.”

Christian Borgemeister, Director of ZEF, University of Bonn, welcomed the award recognising Paul Vlek’s distinguished career. A favourite expression of Paul Vlek is “While you are up and about you may as well do the best you can”, is a reflection of his motivation, conviction, dedication, and his leading by example which have made a tremendous impact on people. “The Center ZEF he help to build has become one of the world’s best Science and Technology Think Tanks and is listed among the best university-affiliated Think Tanks.”

“Paul Vlek has implemented research and education projects in South America, West and East Africa and Central Asia. Similar projects often end with the research findings published, but without bringing them to practitioners and policymakers. In contrast, the projects headed by Paul Vlek have ended in a different way by translating innovations into action and introducing development approaches to national agricultural policy-makers and practitioners.”

The Award Ceremony was followed by the 2014 GCHERA International Seminar and World Dialogue on Education and Innovation in Agriculture and Life Sciences, “Fostering Agriculture Innovation Systems Networks through the Linkage of University, Industry, and Government,” September 20-21.

The recipient Professor Paul Vlek

Since 1998, Paul Vlek has been the Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), which he co-founded, at Bonn University, Germany. He has held a number of senior appointments over his 40-year career both in Germany and overseas including Director of the Agro-Economic Division of the International Fertiliser Development Center (IFDC, USA), Director of the IFDC in Africa, Director of the Institute of Agronomy in the Tropics and Dean of the Faculty Agriculture at the Georg –August-University Göttingen, Germany, and founding Executive Director of West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) in Ghana. In 2011, Paul Vlek was appointed to the UNESCO chair on Education for Sustainable Development at Urgench State University, Uzbekistan.

The World Agriculture Prize

The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA), with Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU), established the GCHERA World Agricultural Prize in 2012 to recognise the contribution of a faculty staff member from an agricultural and life science university who has significantly contributed to the mission of the university through education, research and knowledge transfer for the benefit of society. This annual award is given for the second time in 2014. NAU sponsors the prize.

The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences

The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences (GCHERA) was established in 1998 but in 2011 the governance structure was changed so that instead of individual university membership, its membership is now made up of 13 worldwide higher education associations who themselves represent individual universities in the agricultural and life sciences areas. For example, China is represented by the Education Professional Committee of the Chinese Association of Agricultural Sciences Societies, Europe is represented by the Association for European Life Science Universities, USA is represented by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and Canada is represented by the Association of Canadian Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.

The Mission of GCHERA is to encourage and support global co-operation among agricultural and life sciences higher education associations, and their member universities, so as to enhance innovation and leadership in education, research and outreach. GCHERA provides a forum for sharing of best practices as well as being a global voice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today. Agricultural and life science universities have a critical role to play in providing the human resources and the research and innovation needed to meet the challenge of feeding a rapidly growing world population whilst reducing the environmental footprint of our food and non food production systems.

For more information, please contact:

Bonn University : Mrs. Alma van der Veen aveen(at)

GCHERA: Dr Simon Heath secretariat(at)

WASCAL: Ms Jelana Vajen press(at)



Nanjing Agricultural University:

Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn:

GCHERA Nanjing:


WASCAL officially becomes an international organization of West African States

The establishment of WASCAL as an international organization is an important step towards the goal to install WASCAL as a permanent research facility in West Africa which will serve as a regional climate service center. “Research projects are usually limited in time. As a consequence, researchers but also their findings and research infrastructure often leave the study region after finishing the project. With the establishment of WASCAL as a regional international organization we want to ensure access to research findings and infrastructure in West Africa in the long term”, explains Prof. Dr. Paul Vlek, Executive Director of WASCAL and Director at the Center for Development Research in Bonn. Moreover, by recognizing the WASCAL agreement, the participating West African countries will start to contribute financially to WASCAL’s budget from 2013 onwards. “In the future WASCAL will be a common resource for the West African States, funded by the participating countries and international donors”, Vlek states further.

WASCAL at the Africa Days of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Under the motto “Germany and Africa working together for the future” the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) invited approximately 700 experts from Africa and Germany to participate in the Africa Days in Berlin. The main objective of the event was to discuss the future of African-German cooperation in education and research. Four workshop panels focused on topics such as climate, bioeconomy, health and transformation. WASCAL was present with representatives from its ten member countries, who together with members of WASCALs sister organization SASSCAL, participated in the workshop panel on climate.

Read more:

Africa and Germany working together for the future

L’Afrique et l’Allemagne main dans la main pour l’avenir

Afrika und Deutschland arbeiten gemeinsam an Zukunft

WASCAL Annual Board Meeting 2014

This year’s Regular Annual Board Meeting of the WASCAL Governing Board was hosted by ZEF in Bonn. Chairman of the Governing Board Prof. Dr. Modibo Haidara and Executive Director Dr. Sédogo were especially delighted to welcome Dr. Henry Mwima, Director of WASCAL’s sister organization SASSCAL (South African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management) as a visitor to the Board Meeting. During the two day event WASCAL Senior and Junior Researchers presented the Governing Board with their research in a poster session.

Following the Board Meeting, the Members of the WASCAL Governing Board proceeded to Berlin to participate in the Africa Days of the BMBF which took place in Berlin on March 16-18, 2014.

WASCAL welcomes its New Executive Director: Dr. Laurent Sédogo

Having joined WASCAL from the beginning of January 2014, Dr. Sédogo will officially take over the mandate of the executive director from his predecessor and founding Director of WASCAL Professor Paul Vlek on February 14, 2014. “Climate Change is one of the biggest challenges in Africa’s development agenda. I share the vision of WASCAL to take science and technique and put it into practice and on the development agenda in a way that will touch local people. At the same time, WASCAL strives to foster development on the level of policy-making. It will be a big challenge for WASCAL to bring together the local and national levels of decision and policy making regarding sustainable land management under climate threats. That is why I was very happy to be selected as executive director,” says Sédogo.

Dr. Laurent Sédogo graduated with a PhD in sustainable management of natural resources from ITC in Enschede and Wageningen University, The Netherlands in 2002. Before this he had obtained a Master of Science in GIS at Wageningen Agricultural University.

Dr. Sédogo worked with institutions dealing with land degradation and desertification control at the national level and the regional level (Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS). He held a variety of political offices, starting with the post of Minister of Farmers’ Cooperatives from 1988 to 1990. After completing his PhD he returned to the political office as Minister of the Environment and Quality of Life until 2008, followed by the post of Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fishery. He was a Member of Parliament until joining WASCAL in January 2013.

Laurent Sédogo was Vice President of the Governing Council of UNEP and Member of the Governing Council of the OSS (Sahara and Sahel Observatory) and is a member of the Centre for Sustainable Development Initiative.

Link to full vitae

Watch a video interview with Laurent Sédogo on the Center of Development Research’s youtube channel

The winner is: Second “Farmer Innovation Contest” awards Ghanaian farmer

The objective of the contest is to identify locally developed farmer innovations which can complement existing extension packages after further scientific evaluation. Local innovations have the advantage that they are generally adapted to the conditions in which a farmer operates. Therefore, they are likely to be easily adopted by fellow farmers.

How Bukari Hassan tackled his termite problem

This year’s regional winner of the Farmer Innovation Contest in Upper East Ghana tackled a termite problem by luring carnivore ants as a natural deterrent for termites. Termites used to kill Bukari Hassan’s young tree seedlings until he started to lure what he refers to as ‘Tiger Ants’ using bones – left-overs from the butcher or his own family’s meals. The ants feast on the bones and scare the termites away allowing his trees to grow until they are strong enough to defend themselves. This way Mr. Hassan managed to solve his number one problem of growing trees. Meanwhile he has established a small forest with trees that provide him with fruit, nuts, medicine, firewood and timber. This is good news for Upper East Ghana, where tree cover generally decreases. Mr. Hassan was awarded a motorcycle.


Together with Mr. Hassan, eight other farmer innovators in Upper East Ghana received district awards (water pumps or house roofing sheets, each with an approximate value of 200 Euros). They all found new ways to address pressing problems such as poultry and other livestock diseases, pest infestations of grains during storage, or limited accessibility of materials for the intensification of production.


In his speech on Farmer’s Day on December 6, 2013, Dr. Tobias Wünscher, ZEF senior researcher and coordinator of the contest stressed that “our winners provide clear evidence that farmers are more than adopters of externally developed technologies. They develop their own solutions for their very own problems with the limited resources that are available to them – this is what makes these innovations so special“!

There will be at least two more rounds of the contest in 2014 and 2015.

Contact: Tobias Wünscher

Expert-Workshop “Mobile pastoralism, environmental change and conflict in West Africa ”

Expert-Workshop “Mobile pastoralism, environmental change and conflict in West Africa ”
A group of experts on African pastoralism met in Bonn for the workshop “Mobile pastoralism, environmental change and conflict in West Africa ” (April 12, 2013) to discuss anthropological case studies from Côte d´Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali , as well as future research and cooperation between them. The workshop was organized by the WASCAL partner Dr. Gilbert Fokou from the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d´ Ivoire (CSRS) in Abidjan, and supported by the VW Foundation.