For students like Lariba (not actual name), who had come from a mining community somewhere in Guinea, building her capacity to enable her find sustainable solutions to build resilience against the ever-troubling Climate Change and its devastating effects in her community, has been a dream. Traditional farming in her community, once a reliable source of sustenance, has become unpredictable due to irregular rainfall and soil degradation worsened by mining activities.

Like other West African countries, Guinea is exposed to climate vulnerability, forested communities facing diverse risks such as floods, and landslides. These risks are compounded by deforestation and land degradation. It is estimated that with the increasing state of global Climate Change, the challenge will worsen if mitigation and adaptation measures are not intensified. The mining sector, according to findings, is one of the major emitters of greenhouse gases.  It is very energy intensive. The industry produces fossil energy resources that further contribute to staggering effects on global climate.

Dedicated through its mandate to build capacities towards climate resilience, WASCAL has partnered with the Government of Guinea, to outdoor its 13th Post Graduate Scholarship programme in the sub-region.  WASCAL has introduced a transformative doctoral scholarship programme in Mining Environment and Forestry to be ran by the Gamal Abdel Nasser University. Students from across West Africa will be selected in a competitive admission process to go through a 46-month study under full scholarship.

Young local leaders like Lariba will be looking forward to benefitting from this scholarship, together with her other West African colleagues.  Over the past 11 years, the Capacity Building Programme has adopted the multi-disciplinary approach to provide full scholarships to doctoral and master’s students in the sub-region with the knowledge and skills needed to combat Climate Change while promoting sustainable mining and forestry practices.

Recently, the MoU between WASCAL and the Republic of Guinea represented by the government of the country, was signed for the commencement of the doctoral programme. The scholarship programme does not merely offer academic opportunities; it improves the livelihoods of the people, because of the cascading effects of the knowledge transferred to the students.

All partners, including the technical and financial partners, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF) are looking forward to exploring this new focus area in the quest of combating Climate Change, and improving livelihoods to meet the SDG13 on climate action as well as the African Agenda 2063 on building a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development. Guinea is the 12th country to join the WASCAL Bloc. WASCAL is partnering with West African lead universities to support them establish and manage Graduate Studies Programmes (GSPs) on Climate Change-related topics, hence contributing to the global effort towards climate resilient and sustainable development.