As the African continent continues to grapple with the drastic effect of climate change which is increasingly affecting the life of the people, local scientists are finding ways to ameliorate the phenomenon’s negative impact.
The Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), in partnership with the Germany Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, recently held a two-day workshop in Yaounde hosted by the Cameroon Academy of Sciences. The workshop focused on the role of science academics and the scientific community in the development of climate change adaptation strategies in Africa.
Programme Director of NASAC, Jackie Olang, said it was necessary for African scientists to contribute to public debates on policy in Africa that are science-based, which will guide policy makers in formulating policies on climate change adaptation in the area of health, water management, agriculture, forestry, and urban development.
Olang said the synergy between NASAC and the Germany Academy of Sciences is to exchange research ideas and innovation that would impact positively on Africans as there are 19 countries within the continent that are members of the network.
Executive Secretary of the Cameroon Academy of Sciences, Dr. David Mbah, said science diplomacy is needed in Africa to develop the continent as no country develops without the input of science and technology.
Mbah called for international collaboration between African scientists and global powers such as the G8 and the G20 countries.
Director of Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research in Germany and co-author of the recent World Bank report titled: “Turn Down the Heat”, Professor Hans Schellnhuber, in his presentation on the climate change challenge, said the history of global carbon emission originates from the need for global industrialisation whose impact was not immediate.
Schellnhuber pointed out that, as the impact of climate change is transboundary, those that are far from the area of emission get to suffer for what they never contributed to. He cited the case of melting of the ice sheet, where it results in increased sea level rise and flooding far from the area of occurrence.
Schellnhuber explained that if the 5-sigma model relative to climatology occurs, Africa may be faced with a monsoon that will affect the West African region. He called for the use of clean energy through renewable sources that would reduce dependence on fossil fuel.
Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Academy of Sciences, Dr. Doyin Odubanjo, observed that there is limited research in the area of health implications of climate change. He called for a field-based research that would identify health needs due to climate change impact, which he said is necessary “because in health there is no mitigation but adaptation.”
According to Odubanjo, for Africans to adapt to climate change effect in relation to health, there is need to strengthen the health system. He lamented that health as a thematic area under climate change debate has been long overlooked, and that if urgent and strategic plans are not made, there would be much damage resulting from health effect due to climate change.
Chairman, Technical and Political Affairs Committee, Pan-Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Augustine Njamnshi, explained that Africa is worst hit by the impact of climate change and believes that the solution to climate change will come from the continent. Njamnshi said the kind of technology brought to Africa from other parts of the world should be reviewed because such technology should be indigenous with the input of African scientists.
He pledged that PACJA would work with the Africa Academy of Science to combat climate change.
The participants recommended that current information for different levels of development is needed to implement policies that would enable the African continent adapt to climate change impact, and there should be collaboration between scientists and political decision makers.
By Tina Armstrong-Ogbonna