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[CAPE TOWN] Natural resource management in Africa will receive a boost through the launch of an international research collaboration in Mozambique.

Under the name of Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES), the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in Mozambique will join forces with Germany's Dresden University of Technology (DUT) to conduct policy-relevant research, and Master's degrees and PhD programmes focused on natural resources.

Research into recycling and environmental management is already established at both universities, which will aim to combine their knowledge to speed up progress. Planning has already begun to formalise this relationship and to lay the foundations of the organisation.

Led by the UN University (UNU), the institute hopes to strengthen African capacities to manage natural resources ― such as water, soil and sustainable handling of waste ― through collaborative research and training, said Alice Fišer, head of communications at the UNU in Germany.

She said that by spending time in each others' countries, researchers from developed and developing countries can gain a better understanding of local issues. This approach will hopefully generate a research environment with a strong emphasis on home-grown solutions, she added.

Another goal of the project is to build relationships between other African universities and institutes  ― creating a network of welleducated scientific staff to help solve the continent's problems, Fišer said.

"The involvement of research organisations and researchers from Africa is crucial as the most negative impacts of climate change and unsustainable activities, such as mining or inappropriate use of fertilisers, would be felt in the South, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa."

But, it is still unclear who will form these partnerships as this will depend partly on the exact areas of research that will be focused on, she added.

Mozambique's minister for science and technology, Venâncio Massingue, said Mozambique faced a series of devastating floods and droughts during the last decade, which required a strong need to enhance the ability to tackle these issues.  It is exactly these kinds of environmental problems that UNUFLORES aims to solve, he added.

The UNU‐FLORES Mozambique is not the first institute established by the UNU  ― the Institute for Natural Resources in Africa in Ghana celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Carlos Lucas, director for international cooperation at UEM, declined to comment.