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[ACCRA] A programme is building the capacity of African researchers to understand climate change impacts and develop evidence-based solutions to help policymakers tackle climate change challenges.

The Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) fellowship – an initiative by the African Academy of Sciences and Association of Commonwealth Universities – seeks to help early-career researchers undertake research to address climate change in Africa.

The five-year, £4.85 million (almost US$ 6 million) programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development has selected 37 researchers from about 100 applications as visiting fellows, according to Benjamin Gyampoh, CIRCLE programme manager.

“There is a research uptake component where the researchers are supported to identify the key stakeholders of their work.”

Benjamin Gyampoh, CIRCLE programme

The third cohort of fellows are from 25 universities and research institutes based in nine countries –Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The fellows attended an induction workshop last month (10-12 February) in Kenya.

The 25 institutions nominated the researchers to the programme, and their applications went through rigorous review processes.

The programme, which started in 2014, selects fellows to spend a year in a different African research organisation or university, guided by a supervisor to focus on areas of agriculture, energy, health and livelihoods, water and policy.

Gyampoh tells SciDev.Net: “There is a research uptake component where the researchers are supported to identify the key stakeholders of their work from the beginning and work with them throughout the research phase and explore together to implement the findings.”

Berchie Asiedu, a fellow from the Department of Water Resources at Ghana’s University of Energy and Natural Resources, explains that the programme has been beneficial in terms of publications and advocacy of climate change impacts including water quantity and quality to aid fish farming.  Asiedu is undertaking her fellowship at the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Research publications by CIRCLE visiting fellows (CVFs) since 2014

Papers by CVFs 2015  2016 
Submitted to peer- reviewed journals 91 (by 25 CVFs) 63 (by 17 CVFs)
Accepted by peer- reviewed journal 37 (by 18 CVFs) 40 (by 14 CVFs)
Submitted to peer- reviewed journals based on CIRCLE-funded research 45 (by 22 CVFs) 16 (by 11 CVFs)
Accepted by peer-reviewed journals based on CIRCLE-funded research 12 (by 6 CVFs) 2 (by 2 CVFs)
*In 2015, there were 34 CVFs total. In 2016, there were 29 CVFs total.

Aliyu Umar Tambuwal, a climatologist at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria, adds that young academics in climate change will have the opportunity to conduct applied climate research through mentorship to develop techniques in solving climate change.

Peter Kwapong, head of Department of Conservation Biology and Entomology, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, believes that crucial areas such as biodiversity are key in providing ecosystem services including water quality. Kwapong urges the fellows to explore biodiversity conservation because of the impacts of climate change on living organisms.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.