SASSCAL funds R300m worth research in Southern Africa

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Lahja Nashuuta

Windhoek- The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) has so far funded projects worth R300 million in areas of research, capacity building and infrastructure development aimed at combating the effects of climate change in Southern Africa, its Executive Director, Jane M Olwoch, has revealed.

SASSCAL is a joint initiative between Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Germany in response to the challenges of global change.

It was established in 2012, in accordance with the Bali Action Plan of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that calls for regions like SADC to set up coordinated networks to specifically deals with climate change and other environmental related issues.

Olwoch said the funds were injected into 88 research projects aimed at filling regional data gaps, facilitating open access and providing decision-support tools on climate change and adaptive land management.

Over 500 individuals and more than 80 academic, governmental and non-governmental institutions were involved in these research projects.

Although most of the projects were trans-boundary scientific research, most of the research were carried out in Namibia. She said about R70 million was used to fund 18 research projects, referred to as tasks carried out in Namibia.

SASSCAL-funded researchers in Namibia who authored 31 peer reviewed publications and co-authored 42 peer-reviewed publications.

SASSCAL has funded Capacity Development Master Programmes including a collaborative master degree in earth observation, a geographic information system and remote sensing that was launched on November 2016 at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), in cooperation with Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of Botswana and the University of Zambia. 

Thirty-five Namibian students benefited through scholarships.

SASSCAL has also funded the setting up of 58 Automatic Weather Stations in Namibia. Information provided by SASSCAL indicates that 47 of these 58 stations have been installed since 2010.

Notably, the installations were made possible through joint funding between SASSCAL and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water & Forestry.

In Zambia, SASSCAL has funded 14 projects worth R64 million dollars. The funds benefited 10 institutions and 179 individuals excluding students.

Among the projects includes the six years of SASSCAL research book titled “Climate change and adaptive land management in southern Africa assessments, changes, challenges, and solutions”. The book was launched at the SASSCAL Symposium in Lusaka in April 2018.

As a result, in Zambian researchers published 64 publications in total. These include 14 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 26 dissertations and 20 other publications including reports, manuals, guidelines, management plans, operating procedures and presentations at conferences.

Through SASSCAL funding, 38 students were sponsored to study towards the various degree and diploma programmes. Zambian Air Service Training Institute and the Zambia Community Based Natural Resource Management Forum have developed a diploma in Meteorology and a Certificate in Para-ecology, respectively.

About 20 students were trained in meteorology and an additional 40 from Zambia Meteorological Department.

SASSCAL has also funded 19 AWS to improve weather observation and forecasting in Zambia.

In South Africa, five projects consisted of 25 sub-tasks amounting to R50million were funded by SASSCAL.  The projects benefited 11 institutions, and 80 individuals (excluding students).

Among the major projects include the capacity development undergraduate programmes of which a total of 35 students benefited. Furthermore, SASSCAL funded 12 automatic weather stations found along the west coast of the Northern and Western Cape provinces to support biodiversity and for research.

In Botswana, SASSCAL funded 14 projects amounting to R45 million that benefited 16 Institutions and 80 Individuals (excluding students).

These include capacity development graduate programmes that were established in June 2018. The programme is a collaborative Master Degree in Earth Observation, GIS and Remote Sensing was launched in Botswana.

The programme development was coordinated by NUST, in cooperation with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, The University of Botswana and the University of Zambia.

The nine of the first 21 students have received SASSCAL scholarships. With regards to asserts a total of 20 automatic weather stations that are strategically distributed in Botswana.

In Angola, 13 projects were funded to the tune of R41.5 million of which five institutions and 83 individuals (excluding students) benefited.

Olwoch who expressed her satisfaction with the outcome of SASSCAL first phase, said the initiative with the financial support from German ministry of education and research will soon roll out funds for the second phase.

The new phase - SASSCAL 2.0 will concentrate on translating the knowledge gained from the 88 tasks of the first research portfolio into tools that will enable decision makers in southern Africa to address the issues related to climate change and sustainable land use management.

She further said the second phase the institution would focus on research that addresses issues that are intertwined and trans-boundary.

SASSCAL will also support non-academic training in collaborating institutions and establish centres for knowledge generation and brokerage. Graduate programmes in specialised fields would be started in the second phase

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