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Jesse T. Njoka, Center for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies University of Nairobi, Kenya STEM-Africa Bi-annual Research conference on Advancing.

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Presentation on theme: "Jesse T. Njoka, Center for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies University of Nairobi, Kenya STEM-Africa Bi-annual Research conference on Advancing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jesse T. Njoka, Center for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies University of Nairobi, Kenya STEM-Africa Bi-annual Research conference on Advancing African STEM Research, Education and Collaboration

2 Environmental Science Broadly the science of the interactions between the physical, chemical, and biological components of the environment, but with particular attention to the effects of humans on the natural environment (wikipedia: ) Integrates Ecology, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Soil Science, Geology, Atmospheric Science and Geography an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems.

3 Environmental challenges facing Africa Natural resource degradation and loss of ecosystems and ecosystem services Loss of biodiversity Climate change and climate change impacts Bio-safety concerns Industrial waste- electronic and others Air pollution and related health hazards Rapid population growth – more pressure on land/natural resources Urbanization- sanitation and urban waste management

4 Human Population and Environment in Africa


6 Land Conversion

7 Land cover and Land Use Change Deforestation Land conversion Changes in land productivity Land degradation – an estimated 65% of agricultural land is degraded Desertification About 5 % of Africa is semi arid lands and is occupied by 22 million people Soil erosion is estimated at about 50 mt per, per hectare year or 20,000 million mt of nitrogen, 2000 mt of ph, and 41,000 mt og potassium per year.

8 Biodiversity Africa is among the worlds richest biologically – accounting for 1/3 of global biodiversity ¼ of worlds 4700 mammal species, 1/5 (2,000 species) of birds species in the world and at least 2,000 species of fish- more than any other continent The African mainland has between 40,000 and 60,000 plant species; Eight of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots are in Africa

9 T ransboundary environmental issues in Africa Examples of four trans-boundary issues of importance to Africa: 1. Trans-boundary ecosystems and protected areas; 2. Trans-boundary water resources; 3. Trans-boundary movement of people; and 4. Trans-boundary movement of pollutants

10 New approach Africas new approach to environment: move from looking at environmental issues as a constraint to development to seeing the environment, if well managed, as an opportunity for development -- environmental goods and services (UNEP, 2006)

11 Environmental degradation in Africa-facts and figures Land degradation most common form of environmental degradation Africa is the most affected by land degradation – SSA has the highest rate of deforestation in the world (UNEP,2006) About two thirds of Africas productive soils have already degraded (CIDA, 2011) 6 million ha of productive land lost annually ( Bationo et al., 2006) Deforestation - over 4 million ha annually (Bationo et al., 2006; FAO)

12 Environmental degradation in Africa-facts and figures African drylands- 73% is degraded and 51% is severely degraded (Bationo et al., 2006) Declining of marine resources Declining water and air quality

13 Impacts of environmental degradation Impacts most severe in drylands An estimated 40 percent of the continent's population lives on lands under stress (CIDA, 2011) Declining agricultural productivity-over 50% loss for some areas in a given year (Nellemann et al., 2009)- implications on food security Increasing vulnerability of natural resource-based livelihoods – more destitutes due to a degraded NRs, displacement Aggravation of poverty – about 485 million people affected by land degradation (Bationo et al., 2006)

14 Facts about science/research in Africa Low levels of research Little scientific output from Africa- Africa accounts for less than 2% of the global output (ATPS, 2010) Low investment in research by countries- many still invest less than 1% of GDP (ATPS, 2010; INASP)- low public funding

15 Existing and new partnerships and networks on higher education in Africa Association of African Universities (AAU): forum for consultation, exchange of information and co-operation among institutions of higher education in Africa Mainstreaming of Environment and Sustainability in African Universities (MESA) Partnership- membership is over 90 universities. Developed to mainstream environment and sustainability into teaching and research in universities Regional Universities Forum (RUFORUM): consortium of 29 universities (COMESA) region. Forum for capacity building in agriculture (research & training) University Science, Humanities, Law, and Engineering Partnerships in Africa: partnership of 8 Anglophone Universities for sustainable institutional and human capacity

16 Pan African University (African Union University): launched 2011. Based on existing centres across the continent, seeks to promote science and technology in Africa and a strong link between scientific research and economic development Specialized centres i. University of Nairobi: Centre for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies- among 11 other partnerships under US HED initiative –focuses on research and development in dryland environments in Kenya Existing and new partnerships and networks on higher education in Africa

17 Role of science in implementation of global environmental conventions Conventions and multilateral environmental agreements.: UNCBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC, CITES, Ramsar Convention on wetlands of international importance, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, among others Role of science in implementing global conventions: Scientists play a crucial role in formulation of international environmental agreements ; Through Science and Technology Committees (STCs); Linking the conventions to a diverse scientific network could improve implementation Scientists vital in updating initial evidence and devising indicators to monitor progress

18 Challenges to environmental science in Africa Weak science and research capacities in terms of human and financial resources In most countries, there is disconnect between research institutions and universities –students get little practical science training Institutional weaknesses e.g. for strategic promotion of resource networking for adoption and absorption of available technologies (Masinda M.T., undated) There is limited interest by the private sector in advancing research findings

19 Challenges to environmental science in Africa Most universities are funded from public resources (often foreign funding), and with dwindling government spending university research programmes are affected Environmental science in Africa doesnt seem to command high profile political attention compared to other disciplines Lack of facilities such as GIS tools limits the application of environmental expertise e.g. in policy making and development planning.

20 Recommendations for strengthening environmental science in Africa

21 1. Stronger link between science and practice e.g. Hands-on exposure for students: provision for private/NGOs/Public to engage students 2. Support more African partnerships programmes to replicate success from existing partnerships/networks 3. Strengthen collaborative science, technology and Innovation programmes and projects across Africa. 4. Strengthen public-private sector partnerships to strengthen research and industry link as well as leverage resources for research 5. Support evidence -based policy making in relation to environmental issues-all 6. Capacity building at all levels-community, county, national- institutions influence environmental outcomes. 7. Information sharing through networks & role of media

22 8. Greater role of Regional Economic Communities in environmental matters 9. Establishment of special environmental sponsorship funds to bridge gap in public funding 10. Policy review- review of education policy to scale-up environmental science as key contribution to sustainable development 11. Policy incentives – e.g. tax incentives like rebates, or tax… for companies for environmentally sound innovations and investment in environmental research

23 References 1. ATPS (African Technology Policy Studies Network ), 2010. 2. Bationo et al., 2006. African Soils: Their Productivity and Profitability of Fertilizer Use. Background Paper Prepared for the African Fertilizer Summit June 9-13, 2006 Abuja, Nigeria. 3. FAO- (23 May 2012) (23 4. CIDA, 2011. Land degradation: Overview. cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/JUD-121164957-TLW (28 May 2012) cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/JUD-121164957-TLW ( 5. INASP (The International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications). ( accessed 28 May 2012). ( 6. Masinda M.T., (undated). National Systems of Innovation: Implications on Science and Technology Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology, Report no. 98-05 7. Nellemann, C., MacDevette, M., Manders, T., Eickhout, B., Svihus, B., Prins, A. G., Kaltenborn, B. P. (Eds)., 2009. The environmental food crisis – The environments role in averting future food crises. A UNEP rapid response assessment. United Nations Environment Programme. ISBN: 978-82-7701-054-0 8. UNEP, 2006. Africa Environmental Outlook 2. Our environment, Our wealth.

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