Young African researchers to help address critical gaps in the understanding of African climate system

Naivasha, Kenya, 6 June, 2019 (ECA) - Climate change poses major developmental challenges for the African continent, but through research and innovation, climate change can also create opportunities for carbon neutral and sustainable development.

Science-based reliable climate data and information through adequate hydro-climate data networks, analysis and sharing are crucial to understand climate phenomena, develop appropriate early warning systems, and make the necessary decisions in development frameworks, policies and plans.

In response to this challenge, climate research and development stakeholders convened in Arusha, Tanzania in 2013 for the African Climate Conference (ACC-2013), where they conceived the Climate Research for Development in Africa (CR4D) initiative, with the objective of strengthening the links between climate science research and climate information needs in support of development planning in the continent’s key development sectors.

The CR4D is an African-led initiative created through a partnership of the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

Following the establishment of the CR4D governing bodies (i.e., the Oversight Board (OB), the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and the Institutional Collaboration Platform (ICP) and the Secretariat hosted at ACPC), the ECA partnered with the African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) to implement and manage the CR4D research grants.

Consequently, CR4D initiative has matured to a level where it is today with the announcement this week of the first cohort of 21 young African research grantees from Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal and Zimbabwe to researcher and contribute to the development of more science-based reliable and useful climate information in Africa.

The grantees were unveiled in Nairobi before proceeding to Naivasha for a two-day induction which was led by Ms. Judy Omumbo of the AAS and Frank Rutabingwa of the ACPC and Wiser.

Tom Kariuki, Director of Programmes at the AAS, welcomed the grantees and other participants to the meeting and stressed the importance of the work they are going to do in the next 18 or so months.

He said the AAS will do all in its power to support the fellows as they do their research.

“The AAS is leading in championing the use of evidence in policy and decision making. I’m elated that we are breaking ground in climate research with the first cohort of fellows. I wish you all the best in your various areas of research in the next 19 months,” he said.

Mr. Rutabingwa said he was happy that the research grant was now operational after years of hard work piecing things together.

“It has been said over and over again and I will repeat that this is very important in that it provides an opportunity for our young African researchers to address critical gaps that are there in the understanding of the African climate system and bridges the divide between climate science and policy,” he said.

Ms. Omumbo said the research grant specifically contributes to multi-disciplinary climate research for improving observing systems and data delivery, scientific and institutional capacity, climate forecast skills, and mainstreaming climate services into decision-making.

She led the meeting sharing with grantees what was expected of them. The grantees each had an opportunity to share with the team what they would be working on; they had interactive sessions on how to plan to communicate their research journeys; networking opportunities; mentoring, collaborations; inter-disciplinary climate research for development; additional programme support; reporting protocols and CR4D requirements, among others.

ACPC’s Yosef Amha, who’s with the CR4D secretariat also spoke about the African climate research priorities. He emphasized the importance of the grantees to communicate during their research. Ms. Kidist Belayneh of the ACPC spoke in closing about how elated the ACPC and its partners were about the research grant finally coming to fruition.

She said congratulated the grantees for being the first cohort, adding the continent anxiously awaits their research outcomes to use in making informed policies.


  • Mr. Diodone Alemagi, Cameroonian, University of Ghana: Alemagi’s project examines and identify strategies for advancing the implementation REDD+, a mechanism to support developing countries to reduce emissions by promoting the conservation and the sustainable management of their forests, in Cameroon and Ghana, where the rate of deforestation and forest degradation remain extremely high.
  • Mr. Olumuyiwa Adegun, Nigerian, Federal University of Technology, Akure:Impacts of extreme weather events are already a reality within informal settlements - places where a significant proportion of the urban population in Africa live. More impacts are expected, given the level of vulnerability. Adegun’s research focuses on strengthening adaptation and improving the application of climate information within these disadvantaged urban areas.
  • Mr. Anderson Kabila, Cameroonian, Stockholm Environment Institute, Kenya branch:Despite increasing interests in transitioning to low-carbon economies in Africa, policy making is hindered by the lack of necessary data and decision-support tools to bring about transformational change. Kabila’s research seeks to bridge these gaps in science, technology and policy by providing decision makers with the information and tools they need (low-carbon economic models, quantified simulation scenarios, transition pathways and indicators) for measuring and evaluating the roll out of policies and programmes in East Africa.
  • Mr. Philip Antwan-Agyei, Ghanaian, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology:By 2030, the impacts of climate change could cause enhanced levels of extreme poverty, especially in West Africa, where climate change presents a major development challenge with disproportionate effects on agriculture and agro-based livelihoods. Antwan-Agyei’s research focuses on advancing knowledge on how to mainstream climate information in resilience building in agricultural systems to support sustainable agricultural productivity and economic development in Ghana. 
  • Mr. George Otieno, Kenyan, Intergovernmental Authority for Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre:The various sectors of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia — including agricultural and food security, water and energy, livestock and health are already experiencing more droughts due to climate change.  This will worsen as Africa is projected to warm fastest than any other continent. Otieno’s research focuses on how seasonal forecasts can be improved better, including the introduction of climate change information to enhance early warning systems and disaster preparedness for effective response over the GHA region.
  • Ms. Stella Kabiri-Marial, Ugandan, Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute:The projected impacts of 2 degrees global warming are more dangerous than initially thought and brings us closer to several critical tipping points. We have only 12 years for drastic action if we are to have any chance of achieving the 1.5 degrees’ target. In a bid to save emissions from Industrial fertilizer production, this research focuses on demonstrating a green-energy driven technology solution to support the on-site fertilizer production in Africa. The aim is to provide cost-affordable, green-made Nitrogen fertilizers to local small-scale farms. 
  • Ms. Asanterabi Lowassa, Tanzanian, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute: The project aims to provide a broad understanding on the impact of gender inequality on the climate change and mitigation measures/coping strategies used by men and women. The ultimate goal is to influence policy and decision makers to consider the gender aspects of climate change and develop a gender-responsive approach. 
  • Mr. Isaac Mugume, Ugandan, Makerere University:The project will focus on the implications of the 1.5-2.0 degree Celsius to Uganda climate, agriculture and water nexus and will investigate the probable influence of this temperature limit on crop production and water needs including the influence on rainfall, humidity, winds and cloudiness over Uganda. This study will contribute to the research profile of the department of Geography, Geo-informatics and Climatic Sciences of Makerere University at the same time mentoring and supporting three graduate students carrying out research in areas of agriculture, hydrology, environment and climate among others. 
  • Ms. Mary-Jane Bopape, South African, South African Weather Service:Weather and climate early warning systems which are crucial for the safety of life and property, rely on the use of numerical models, none of which were developed in Africa. Bopape’s research will focus on the improvement of thunderstorm simulations over Southern Africa using numerical weather prediction models through modification of the boundary layer and microphysics parametrisation schemes. Output from the models will also be used to develop products for the agriculture, water, disaster risk reduction, energy and health sectors.
  • Ms. Marthe Montcho, Beninese, University of Abomey-Calavi: The warming due to climate change affects the quantity and quality of milk in several livestock systems. Due to the importance of dairy livestock for dairy women cooperatives in West Africa, Montcho’s research focuses on simulation of the best strategies required by dairy women cooperatives to address climate change based on their current strategies for milk production and their profit improvement. 
  • Ms. Rondrotiana Barimalala, Malagasy, University of Cape Town:The economic growth of the African island states over southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) region is threatened by the impacts of climate change. There is however a limited understanding of the basic mechanisms that drive the climate variability in the area; analyses of conventional climate model outputs, both present day and projections under different global warming levels are very scarce. The critically limited climate information available for major climate-sensitive decisions hampers these countries’ efforts toward sustainable development. With a particular focus on Madagascar, the project will contribute on scientific understanding of the climate variability and change in the island in order to integrate a science-based knowledge into the country’s climate-sensitive decisions, climate change adaptation and mitigation plans as well as on the national risk awareness.
  • Ms. N`Datchoh Evelyne Toure, Ivorian, West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use:This project Flood Risk Reduction under Paris Agreement (FLORR-PA) aims to provide valuable information about projected flood occurrences in three West African cities of Abidjan, Dakar and Ouagadougou under global warming target of 1.5oC and 2oC. 
  • Ms. Olga Aliza Kupika, Zimbabwean, Chinhoyi University of Technology:This study aims to explore the impact of climate change on riparian based ecosystems and livelihoods dependent on two river systems, the Ronde and Save River in the south-eastern Lowveld, Zimbabwe. The project will adopt a case study approach whereby two study communities located along the margins of the rivers in drought prone Chiredzi and Mwenezi Districts will be selected to collect data using smart-mobile phones.  
  • Ms. Dimphna Ezikanyi, Nigerian, Mountain Top University: The study seeks to evaluate the allergenic potentials of some plants and this will inform climate policy on selection of non-allergenic plants for tree planting approach to mitigation. The work will develop allergen specific immunotherapy for prevention of allergic diseases and evaluate the prophylactic potentials of seeds and Euphorbia in attenuating allergies. 
  • Mr. Ibrahim Sy, Senegalese, Centre de Suivi Ecologique:The health impact of climate change has been clearly demonstrated and that heat waves lead to morbidity and mortality excess, especially in Sahel strip countries marked by temperatures increase. However, there are still no climate services for the health sector that can assist in the monitoring and prevention of health risks associated with heat waves. The availability of health climate services (weather forecasts, seasonal forecasts and climate scenarios) can help to better integrate this emerging public health issue into health policy priorities in order to reduce morbidity and mortality due to heat waves in Sahel regions.
  • Ms. Eleni Yitbarek, Ethiopian, University of Pretoria:In this study, we propose to investigate the impacts of crop diversification (both cereal and cash crop diversification) on farm household's food and nutrition security. The study focuses on Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda, where the levels of crop diversification are generally low, and incidence of food insecurity and nutrition deficiency are high.  
  • Mr. Kouassi Richard M ‘Bra, Ivorian, University of Peleforo Gon Coulibaly: In Côte d’Ivoire, malaria is the disease that has the most significant health burden with an estimated incidence of 330 cases per 1000 population. Malaria transmission could be impacted differently by the different climatic regime of the country. M’Bra’s research aims to develop early warning systems to forecast periods of high malaria infection risk in Côte d’Ivoire. 
  • Mr. Mokonen Adnew Degefu, Ethiopian, Debre Markos University:The effort towards establishing effective drought management system in the data poor drought prone parts of Africa is hampered due to insufficient knowledge on the spatiotemporal variability, drivers, poor data quality and limited capacity. Degefu’s seeks to identify geospatial datasets and drought indices and identify the driver of drought development from large scale climate oscillation systems in Ethiopia. It intends to enhance data availability, methods and enhance the predictability of drought development 
  • Ms. Ariane Amin, Ivorian, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques: The project seeks to supply decision-makers with contextual-based and evidence-based information to enhance decision making to tackle the impact of climate on cattle production in West Africa. It will also investigate the climate risk for cattle trade flows between Côte d'Ivoire and Sahelian countries and assess the cost of inaction.
  • Ms. Jessica Thorn, Namibian, University of Cape Town:The project will (1) determine impacts of seasonal variability on water supply in rural and peri-urban areas, (2) assess synergies and trade-offs of water-related ecological infrastructure, (3) identify barriers to the mainstreaming of ecological infrastructure for adaptation, and (4) examine diverse, scenarios to achieve desired futures outlined in the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.
  • Ms. Madaka Tumbo, Tanzanian, University of Dar es Salaam:The research aims to address the trade-off between water savings, and productivity and soil fertility brought on by the use of alternate wetting and drying, a water management technique that uses much less water in rice irrigation. Rice, a staple food for 3 billion people, consumes more water than any other crop. In the coming decades, as demand for rice increases, freshwater resources dwindle and become more unpredictable due to climate change, and evaporation rates increase due to higher temperature, rice production will become unsustainable in most regions, requiring alternate wetting and drying but its use will need a trade-off to reduce organic nutrients being mineralised and to prevent the loss of soil fertility.