Germany is sponsoring the work of a West African research consortium to tackle land use affected by climate change. The devastating impact of drought has impacted the livelihoods of farmers.
Mohammed Amidu, 40, owns a farm in Accra, Ghana. The proceeds from the sale of vegetables support his wife and two children, but his latest harvest yielded spoiled produce that was unsellable.
"Now if you plant around the dry season, you will suffer before harvesting. Can you see the pepper? You can see that they are spoiling. Now there is no market," says Amidu.
The impact of global warming has resulted in increased droughts, flooding and other environmental consequences in many African countries.
Scientists from over ten West African countries are currently meeting to discuss strategies to deal with the threats posed by climate change with the German government pumping over 50 million euros ($56 million) into the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), a joint research consortium on managing and adapting land use under changing climatic conditions.
"Our first [goal] is to combat climate change, and the other is to improve livelihoods. We are doing that by training experts in the region through master and graduate level programs. Finally, we deliver various kinds of products and services, water resources, and weather services across the region,” explains Professor Jimmy Adegoke, executive director of the Accra-based center.
Although Germany's Federal Ministry of Research and Education is currently funding the project, the aim is to pass on financial responsibility for the program to West African governments.
"WASCAL is our crown jewel, and we think that it is really a very important institution here in the region to deal with the consequences of climate change. What we would also like to seeis increased ownership in the region. That means all countries coming together, and working together in WASCAL so they can also pay membership fees,” said German Ambassador to Ghana, Christoph Retzlaff .
Gregor Laumann, an official of the German education ministry, emphasizes that the ultimate goal is to sustain the work of WASCAL through sources of regional funding
"It is still very important that more and more of the West African countries assume [greater] responsibility than in the past for driving this initiative,” he says.