WASCAL to train 3,000 African scientists

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.

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.