By: Portia Adade Williams (Post-Master’s Fellow, Cohort 2)
Home Institution: Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR- STEPRI), Ghana
Host Institution: University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa.
In January 2016, I arrived at my host institution to officially commence the one-year Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) Visiting Fellowship programme to enhance my research skills and contribute to the aim of the programme. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I did my research on the programme by communicating with some Cohort 1 Fellows to learn from their experiences. This together with the guidance of my host supervisor, Dr. Olivier Crespo and unflinching support from my home mentor Dr. George O. Essegbey, enabled me start working before officially commencing the programme.
I am half way through the fellowship and I have participated in both local and international programmes. Besides the educative bi- weekly departmental seminars I participate in, the exposure has been amazing. I participated in the 2nd Students’ Conference on Climate Change and Development at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, South Africa, on 18th March, 2016. This was organized by the CIRCLE host at UCT, the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) where insightful presentations related to the theme were made. Another opportunity for me was when ACDI facilitated a meeting between Circle Visiting Fellows (CVFs) and the Research Office at UCT on 21st April, 2016 to introduce the CVFs to the office. This was a meeting between CVFs, our supervisors, host ACDI and the research office constituting Dr. Mignonne Breier and her team. The meeting enabled us seek any assistance required in conducting research in UCT. It later facilitated my participation in a three day writing retreat with the Emerging Researcher Programme (ERP) coordinated by Drs. Lyn Holness and Gudrun Oberprieler of the research office at Mont Fleur conference venue, Stellenbosch, South Africa from 21st to 23rd May, 2016. The retreat was useful and impactful as educative sessions with experiences from other international students were shared, not to mention the learning platform to develop proficient use of time in writing.
|Meeting with CVFs, supervisors, CIRCLE host ACDI and the research office team at UCT|
|Writing retreat at Mont Fleur Conference Venue, Stellenbosch, South Africa.|
The latest exposure as part of the CIRCLE Fellowship is my participation in the scholar’s prestigious program at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in the United States of America (USA). This was the “Brown International Advanced Research Institute (BIARI)”, hosted by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. About 146 participants from 55 countries convened from 4th – 18th June 2016, to participate in a two week annual residential program sponsored by Santander Universities. Out of the four institutes hosted, I had the privilege of participating in the climate change institute under the theme “Climate Change and Its Impacts: Connecting Variability and Knowledge in a Global System”. Convened by Brown University professors, each section featured lectures and seminars led by distinguished local and international guest faculty.
|The Climate Change Institute at BIARI 2016, Brown University, USA|
It was a unique experience meeting individuals across academic, professional and geographic boundaries. At the end of the programme, various research groups were formed. I am now part of a global group of 11 researchers from 8 different countries representing four continents with the common goal of developing further a research proposal to conduct a comparative study across countries and we hope to continually collaborate and research into emerging issues related to climate change within our expertise.
|Other participants at BIARI 2016, Brown University, USA|
On my CIRCLE research, I am working on “Climate variability impact on pineapple production in Ghana”. Pineapple heavily depends on climate for performance and is an important crop within the horticultural sub-sector of Ghanaian economy. With limited knowledge relating to climate and pineapple productivity, this research focuses on assessing the effect of variability on pineapple production under climatic and economic perspectives. It also explores the coping strategies employed by pineapple farmers in Ghana. It is a holistic study which will play a critical role in assisting pineapple farmers to adapt to climate variability and cope with short term impacts.
At the end of June 2016, I will be participating in a one week winter school course on “Using climate information for adaptation and policy development” organized by the Climate Systems Analysis Group(CSAG) of the Environmental and Geographical Sciences Department of UCT. I also hope to participate in a conference in the next two months to present part of the findings from my study. I aspire to develop my career and build my intellectual capabilities for professional growth and my participation in the CIRCLE programme so far has set me on the right path. Being an early career academic, I hope to become an internationally recognised scientist in the field of climate change and I value this unique experience CIRCLE programme through DFID, ACU and AAS has given me. I am also grateful to CSIR-STEPRI and UCT for all the support and assistance.