Tuesday 23 August 2016

Report from the 5th Climate Change and Population Conference on Africa

By Dr Eunice Thomas, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Cohort 2 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow
The 5th climate change and population conference on Africa was held in Ghana from the 19th of July to 21st of July, 2016. The theme for the conference was “Building Bridges and Research –into – use.” Among the invited Guests were:  the ambassador of the royal kingdom of Morocco, her excellency Madam Nezha AlaouiM, Hammdi; Special UN Secretary General Envoy on climate change, His excellency John Agyekum Kufour; and Prof Ebenezer Oduro Owusu,  the provost of the college of Basic and Applied Sciences and the Vice chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey.
In the welcome address, the Vice Chancellor and chairman of the day emphasized the need to live in a sound environment and develop a legacy for the future generation. As such, there is a need for vigorous discussion of issues at conferences of this sort. Passion and commitment should be divorced from any differences, including academic warfare, with the focus instead on society and development. The third day of the conference was heralded by a plenary session, titled Gender based flood early warning systems, by Dr Delali B. Dovie (the 2016 Global Innovation Gold award) from Legon and Dr Raymond Kasei from the University for Development studies, Ghana. They talked about how haphazard development and global population growth had paved the way for increased demand for housing and industries, which in turn had exposed several lands to increasing flood risk. They showcased how the drone that came with the award will be used to monitor early flood warning so that adequate preparation can be made to avert it.
Dr  Eunice  Thomas  presenting her research paper
The oral presentations kicked off after the plenary sessions and I had my presentation in the afternoon, titled “Soil Organic Carbon Variations and Soil Chemical Properties in Rubber Plantations and Other Land Use Types in Benin (South-Southern Nigeria).”  The paper was borne out of the recent concern about greenhouse gases and their damage to the ozone layer, which had increased the need for studies on the inputs, outputs and carbon storage in different terrestrial systems.  As the largest C pool in the terrestrial biosphere, even a minor change in soil carbon stocks could result in a significant alteration of atmospheric CO2 concentration (Davidson and Janssens, 2006; Trumbore and Czimczik, 2008). The study therefore aimed at quantifying soil organic carbon and some selected soil properties in order to predict their changes in response to different land use (rubber plantation versus fallow/forest and arable farming land).  The study recommends that farmers should engage in practices that will sequester carbon in soils, using methods such as crop rotation, leaving the land to fallow and adding organic manure at a specific ratio to the soil.  This will also help to mitigate climate change.
CVFs from cohort 1 and 2 at the conference; from the left is Olga Laiza Kupika, Sandra Akugpoka Atindana, Sylvia Ankamah, Catherine Mungai, Daniella Sedegah and Eunice Thomas
Other CIRCLE fellows had oral presentations, such as Olga Kupika (from cohort 1), Catherine Mungai and Sandra Atindana (also cohort 2 members). Daniella, D Seddgah and Syvia Ankamah and Dr Zahor  Zahor  were also in attendance. Sandra Atindana’s paper titled “Gender – Disaggregated Perceptions of Smallholder Crop Farmers on Climate change Adaptation Strategies in the Kintampo North Municipal District of Ghana”, discussed a district which is a transitional forest zone that is being gradually converted to a savannah zone and so is more prone to the adverse effects of climate change factors, hence the need to take steps to mitigate it.
Dr Eunice Thomas  receiving the certificate of participation
At the end of the conference I felt better equipped with different methods to communicate my findings to different policy makers, including proper and adequate communication approaches and ways to involve them from the onset of the research work.
Latest developments at Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana
Among a few remarkable steps being taken by climate change ambassadors, such as CIRCLE and many others, RIPS have taken a step ahead of national efforts to develop a drone that is being put in place to monitor and signal future occurrence of floods to help save lives. A representation from the Ministry of health, Ghana in collaboration with RIPS are developing a drone  (called Dr. One) to enhance the transport and distribution of drugs  and other logistics to remote health care centers in Ghana.