Posted by David Allen and Becky Fried
ACCFP fellows convened Tuesday at USGCRP headquarters in Washington, DC to engage in a dialogue with representatives from several Federal agencies and other organizations.
On Tuesday, Climate Change Fellows from more than 10 African nations convened at USGCRPâ€™s National Coordination Office in Washington, DC to discuss their experiences applying scientific knowledge to climate change adaptation efforts in Africa. The fellows represented the inaugural class of the African Climate Change Fellowship Program (ACCFP). The ACCFP is a partnership between the global change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training (START), the Institute of Resource Assessment at the University of Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) and the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) program.
The International START Secretariat, located in Washington, DC, is hosted and co-funded by the United States to advance knowledge and build capacity to address global environmental change in developing regions of the world. In 2008, START and its partners launched the ACCFP fellowship program to build capacity for climate change adaptation in Africa by providing seed funding to African scientists for research projects and teaching opportunities across the continent. ACCFPâ€™s inaugural class of 45 fellows represented 18 African Nations and focused on the common theme of knowledge for decision making.
Tuesdayâ€™s meeting provided a forum for ACCFP alumni to engage in open dialogue with Federal representatives from USGCRP, USAID, NSF, NASA, USDA, the Department of State, the Department of Energy and others seeking to enable climate adaptation capacity building, both in Africa and around the world.
ACCFP alumna Mzime Ndebele-Murisa described her doctoral research at the University of the Western Cape.
The ACCFP program is unique in its emphasis on matching fellows with host institutions from other African nations. Fellows travel to and collaborate with host institutions to implement projects across a range of topicsâ€”from advancing understanding of climate risks and vulnerabilities, to identifying adaptation strategies, to integrating adaptation strategies with local policy, and more. The fellow-to-host matching process creates networks of climate adaptation experts and practitioners across the African continent that can be harnessed for knowledge sharing and partnerships that might not otherwise be possible.
In addition to presenting research accomplishments achieved during their fellowships, ACCFP Alumni used Tuesdayâ€™s meeting as an opportunity to share first-hand insights about needs, challenges, and opportunities to enhance the use of climate change adaption research in ways that are useful to long-term strategy development, policymaking, and day-to-day decisions.
Fellows discussed the wide array of demonstrated applications of their workâ€”from informing fisheries management planning in Zimbabwe, to bringing meteorological forecasting information to secondary schools in Tanzania, to providing climate change training to NGOâ€™s in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and much more.
There was unanimous agreement among the fellows in the room that the connections established through the ACCFP alumni network have proven extremely valuable, even after graduation from the Program. For example, three ACCFP fellows from Nigeria teamed up after completion of their individual projects to work on water resource mapping to inform climate adaption plans in Nigerian communities.
There was also unanimous agreement on needs for future capacity building. When a fellow from Ghana raised the need to more effectively communicate climate change information to farmers, fisherman, communities, and others who use and depend on it, there were many affirming nods around the room. The fellows agreed that translation of scientific knowledge into information that it accessible, useable, and relevant is absolutely critical to the proliferation of effective climate adaptation strategies in Africa.
A total of 24 adaptation policy and science fellows make up the ACCFPâ€™s most recent class of participants (2011); these individuals are currently in residence at their host institutions and work is underway. Application screening is also underway for the third ACCFO cohort, to be comprised of 16 additional science and policy fellows and 10 teaching fellows to complete projects in 2012.
To learn more about the ACCFP, visit: http://start.org/programs/accfp1 and www.accfp.org
To learn about USGCRPâ€™s ongoing work to advance climate change adaptation science, visit: http://globalchange.gov/what-we-do/adaptation-science
David Allen is a Program Associate for International Research and Cooperation at USGCRP;
Becky Fried is a Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy