Ten West African countries meet over climate change

BY: Sebastian Syme & Desmond Tawiah
 Ms Patricia Appiagye, the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, addressing participants in the WASCAL Science Symposium in Accra. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Ms Patricia Appiagye, the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, addressing participants in the WASCAL Science Symposium in Accra. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

Member states of WASCAL, the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use, have converged on Accra to address the scourge of climate change in the sub-region.

The three-day meeting has also brought together policy makers, civil society organisations (CSOs), educational institutions,  non-governmental organisations and research organisations.

It has been designed as a science symposium and the participants will address how to mitigate the effects of climate change in West Africa.

The symposium is on the theme: “Climate and environmental services to reduce vulnerability and improved livelihoods in West Africa: From theory to action”.

WASCAL

 The WASCAL, a research and capacity-building and climate services centre, pursues science-based solutions to the climate change challenges the sub-region is currently confronted with, hence the assemblage of member states to network and explore possibilities for deeper collaboration to deal with the issue.

The WASCAL member states comprise Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, The Gambia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.

Welcoming the delegates to the symposium yesterday, the Executive Director of WASCAL, Dr Moumini Savadogo, said its establishment was a direct reaction to the adverse effects of climate change on vulnerable groups and ecological systems in the sub-region.

He stated that since its establishment eight years ago, WASCAL had made significant investments in diverse sectors with the aim to improve the quality and quantity of critical data required for climate change research, promote science-based solutions to the challenges through the implementation of human-centred projects and the training of the next generation of West African climate change scientists.

Capacity building

In terms of capacity building, Dr Savadogo said, WASCAL’s doctoral and master’s degree programmes were implemented in 10 lead universities in member states, where 258 students had been sponsored to pursue programmes related to climate change.

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi is WASCAL’s partner university in Ghana.

The purpose of WASCAL was also to build graduate-level scientific capacity and serve policy makers in West Africa with science-based advice on adaptation to climate change impacts and land use management, Dr Savadogo explained.

“As a climate change service centre, we are happy to have put climate change and environmental services and their contribution to livelihood empowerment at the centre of this symposium,” he said.

Ghana’s support

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ms Patricia Appiagyei, pledged Ghana’s commitment to the work of  WASCAL.
She said one of the foremost documents President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo signed, on his assumption of office, was the host country agreement between Ghana and WASCAL.

She said the agreement signified the level of importance the country attached to the services of WASCAL in Ghana and within the sub-region and expressed optimism about Ghana’s deepening support for the centre in the coming years.

Ms Appiagyei decried the fact that not much concerted efforts had been made at the sub-regional level and on the continental scale in the fight against the debilitating effects of climate change.

“As climate change knows no boundaries, it should not be lost on us to shun unhealthy competition, pool resources and collaborate to overcome the climate change menace,” she said.

The German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Christoph Retzlaff, whose country is funding WASCAL, expressed the commitment of the German government to support WASCAL to build climate change resilience in the 10-member states in the sub-region.