Developing skills to address climate change in Africa

Developing skills and expertise related to climate change are crucial for Africa. Photo:

CCAFS West Africa is actively involved in developing skills and expertise of West African Masters and PhD students by contributing to their training in climate change.

Climate change is one of the most serious threats of our time. This phenomenon is the cause of increased frequency and intensity of floods, droughts and cyclones. In West Africa, there has been a sharp decline in harvests, water shortages, and increased health crises, leading to growing food insecurity.

In order to develop adaptation technologies, practices, approaches, and tools for mitigating climate change, we need scientific knowledge and information which, unfortunately, is often lacking in West Africa. Consequently, adequate and appropriate skills are required to generate, share, educate and ensure appropriate use of such knowledge and information. To that end, it is more than necessary to build existing capacities, as well as develop new skills and expertise for all sectors, including agriculture and food security.

Developing skills to address climate changein West Africa

Another way of contributing to the fight against climate change is to develop skills that would enable us to take the lead and propose new alternatives. Consequently, CCAFS West Africa has been contributing regularly to the training of students.

In this connection, the CCAFS West Africa Program Leader, Dr. Robert Zougmoré, has given a course on "Climate-Smart Agriculture: an approach to strengthen the adaptive capacity of agricultural production systems" to 23 students from various African countries for a Masters degree in Climate Change and Sustainable Development at AGRHYMET Regional Center, as well as 30-hour course on the same topic to a wider audience.

More recently, Dr. Zougmoré presented a paper in June in Niamey, entitled "Climate-smart agriculture: actions to reduce agricultural vulnerability to climate change."
The paper was presented to 54 participants in a conference organized by AGRHYMET Regional Center in collaboration with the Global Climate Change Alliance Program (GCCA).

In addition to the staff and students of AGRHYMET Regional Center, the conference was also attended by guests from the French Embassy, ICRISAT, Abdou Moumouni University, and the NGO Karkara.

The conference focused on the following themes: the major challenges for West Africa, future scenarios, possible solutions for small West African farmers, and success stories of climate-smart agriculture.

Afterwards, it was the turn of the masters students of Climate Change and Energy of WASCAL Program hosted by the Faculty of Science and Technology of Abdou Moumounide University in Niamey. Ten students from ten ECOWAS countries attended a course in English for one week on climate change and agriculture.

Robert Zougmoré and students of the WASCAL program

This was not an isolated event since it was the second time that the CCAFS West Africa Program Leader was contributing to the training of WASCAL program students. He had given a course in 2013 on climate change and agriculture and another on energy flows in agricultural production systems to enhance the skills of 10 PhD students of the WASCAL Program coordinated by IPR/IFRA (Mali) and the University of Cape Coast (Ghana).

CCAFS West Africa and WASCAL have developed a fruitful partnership through which the two programs work together to conduct research on climate, capacity building, sharing of scientific data and information on climate change in agriculture.

Consequently, the two programs have decided to use CCAFS research sites for research and studies by WASCAL students and strengthen existing CCAFS skills in developing university programs for various Masters and PhD programs.

Some of the students conduct their fieldwork on CCAFS sites as is the case with Siaka Dembele, a doctoral WASCAL student whose thesis topic is "Developing production technologies for drought conditions: the case of sorghum" in Cinzana, the CCAFS Mali site.

These are some of the tools for training students and making them to become informed specialists. It is also necessary to consider aspects concerning the importance of climate change capacity and expertise building for many areas in the country: mainstreaming of climate change in agricultural strategies and development plans, development of effective adaptation tools and technologies for the short, medium and long terms, generation of scientific knowledge and information to support well-informed decision making, development of simulations and scenarios that could contribute to the prevention and management of risks and disasters related to climate variability and change.

Robert Zougmoré is the Regional Program Leader of CCAFS West Africa.

Sékou Touré is the Communications officer of CCAFS West Africa