UTG holds climate change research agenda workshop

The University of The Gambia (UTG) recently organised a daylong training workshop on national consultations on the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land use (WASCAL).

The aim was to fulfill its mission as a regionally-based services centre on climate change, with a coherent research agenda that meets the needs of the people in West Africa.

It was also planned to hold national and regional consultations on the organisation’s research programme for the period 2016-2020.

Speaking at the ceremony held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, Pa Ousman Jarju, Minister of Environment, Water Resources, Climate Change, Parks and Wildlife, said climate change is the biggest challenge of our time.

He noted that one of the reasons is because it has been established that Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by multiple stresses and a number of non-climate factors, including low levels of development, a high prevalence of diseases, conflicts, high dependence on rain-fed agriculture and low adaptive capacity.

He said a 1.5-2 degree warming by 2030-2040 could lead to about 40-80 per cent reduction in present maize, millet and sorghum cropping areas for current cultivars, adding that with a 3-degree warming, the reduction could grow to more than 90 per cent.

WASCAL is a large-scale research-focused programme at the climate service center designed to help address this challenge, and thereby enhance the resilience of human and environmental systems to climate change and increased variability.

It also strengthens the research infrastructure and capacity in West Africa related to climate change, and by pooling the expertise of ten West African countries and Germany, he added.

Professor MIA Khalil, UTG Vice Chancellor, said nine students from nine different West African countries graduated last month from the master’s research programme on climate change at the UTG, and they are currently recruiting for the next batch of students.

The main purpose of the meeting was to consult various groups and individuals to help identify the issues related to climate change in the country, the corresponding research needs and research gaps as contained in the reference document, he said.

Dr. Abubacarr Senghore, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, said WASCAL is a regional programme on climate change education, a regional capacity building initiative aimed at improving the understanding of climate change impacts in West Africa.

He urged participants to take full advantage of the opportunity to have our research needs and gaps fully represented in the 2016-2020 WASCAL agenda.

Author: Isatou Senghore-Njie