African research experts have recommended a consolidated African mechanism of conducting long term research to inform policy and decision making in mitigating climate change.
The group of researchers made the recommendation during a workshop meeting in Kigali, organized by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Rwanda to examine how climate research may be leveraged to feed into African climate services.
The researchers acknowledged that Africa is one of the regions in the world where climate risk is high due to the increased frequency and intensity of hazards, high vulnerability, and a lack of appropriate responses and means.
For instance, last month, landslides claimed over 135 lives in Rwanda, while more than 440 people died as a result of the massive flooding and mudslides in South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The researchers said that most of the climate information available in Africa is weather forecasts and seasonal predictions.
Professor Sam Yala, the AIMS Rwanda Centre President said that in order for governments to understand the need to address climate change impact, long term research work should be established as a link between the academia and policymakers to take action in time.
“Scientific knowledge remains critical for policymakers in responding to climate hazards. Research is robust enough and gives robust results that can be translated into climate change information to emphasize the medium to the long term,” Prof. Yala said.
Yala stated that the outcomes of the meeting with all the development agencies will show them, in time, how the long term research results can be included in the climate initiatives used in development strategies.
“The earlier you inform policymakers, planners the better they take that into account,” Yala said.
Dr Robert Zougmoré, the Principal Scientist at Alliance of Diversity International & International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Cluster Leader-West Africa for AICCRA (Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa) said that there is a need to have consolidated research initiatives as many existing research works are either scattered.
Dr. Mouhamadou Bamba Sylla is the AIMS-Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Science said that besides the long term research Africa should focus on coming up with its research models which touch all areas of climate change- including health, land use, and natural resources among others.
However, Dr. Ernest Afiesimama, the Regional Programme Manager at World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Office for Africa said that these models should be driven by the African agenda and tackling issues on ground, not replicating western models.
Despite the enabling environment provided by agencies like International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the issue of lack of funding from African governments came up strongly at the meeting.
For instance, data shows that only two countries- Kenya and South Africa have managed to reach a 0.8% budget allocation to research against the recommended AU benchmark of 1%.
The team of African researchers will conclude the meeting this June 16, 2023 and some of the key recommendations are expected to focus on creating research synergies, African climate mitigation and resilience models, skills development and sustainable funding resources.
Rwanda is one of the countries that has already started making steps on some of the above, for example the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with the High Education Council and University of Rwanda to build capacity and so far seven funded research proposals are in offing with more calls for proposals in the pipeline.
Rwanda’s budget for 2023/2023 presented today also shows the environment and Climate Change mitigation and adaptation measures will be strengthened.
This will be restoration of degraded forests and catchments, construction and landscaping works for wetlands rehabilitation, increasing the land under biodiversity conservation and operationalizing IREME Invest (with an initial capitalization of $104M to support the Private sector to access green finance) and the NDC Facility to mobilize climate finance.