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Climate change threatens public health in Africa – OWSD

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The Organisation of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), Africa has recommended that climate change must be recognised by African governments as a significant public health threat.

The OWSD said it is a particular important challenge “that must be on the continent’s public health agenda, along with tropical, infectious and non-communicable diseases”.

The recommendation was made in a communiqué signed by Professor Mrs Esi Awuah, Vice-Chancellor, University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) and Professor Ahbor D. A. Ighoroje, Vice President of OWSD, Africa Region at the end of the 2nd Africa Regional International Conference.

It was copied to Ghana News Agency in Sunyani at the weekend.

The four-day conference, hosted by the UENR from October 15- October 18, in Sunyani after the maiden one in Abuja, Nigeria in 2009 was attended by 200 participants from  Africa and beyond.

On the theme: “Climate change and its Impact on Africa: the Role of Science and Engineering for Combat,” it brought together accomplished women scientists on the continent to set a framework to increase and improve the quality of climate modelling and climate-related research in Africa and for Africa.

The conference deliberated on 12 thematic areas which include: “Climate Change and Legislation and Policy for Sustainable Development” and “Climate Change and Gender Mainstreaming”.

The communiqué observed Africa is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change because many economies on the continent are heavily dependent on climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, forestry, health and hydropower.

It said unfortunately, Africa has a low research capacity pool on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The communiqué called for the conduct of specific, investigative and innovative research to produce practical strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation in Africa such as drip irrigation to improve the vulnerable rain-fed agricultural system.

It proposed the pairing of parliamentarians in Africa with fellows of academic, research or scientific bodies like OWSD to promote collaboration and facilitate dialogue to harness policy-science synergy.

The communiqué said: “Female scientists should be encouraged to pursue technology-oriented study and research.”

It called on Africa governments to be intentional about research capacity building for climate change mitigation and adaptation, adding that “women should be empowered and included in the policy making process, in view of the gendered dimension of vulnerability to climate change”.

The communiqué said climate change research and public education efforts must be doubled, drawing upon relevant information and local examples to heighten awareness of the need for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

It expressed the need for educational curricula from primary school through tertiary to include intentional training on climate change adaptation and mitigation while policies must be reformulated.

The communiqué emphasised the practice and encouragement of crop substitution and the use of environmentally safe bio-fungicides in the agricultural sector.

It said Africa must also encourage capacity building for crop and livestock farmers, rural agricultural credits schemes, land management practices that protect soil carbon as well as investment in sustainable agriculture and food system.

The communiqué recommended the need for a dedicated effort by developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and must contribute to research funding to develop Africa’s capacity for climate change adaptation.

It said African governments should be intentional about renewable and clean energy development, including converting wood residue to energy and harnessing solar, hydro, biogas and wind energy to successfully mitigate the energy impact of climate change.

The OWSD is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit making body based at the headquarters of the Third World Academy of Sciences in Trieste, Italy.

It unites women scientists from both developing and developed countries with the objective of strengthening their role in the development process and promoting their representation in scientific and technological leadership.

The OWSD Africa works through its regional and national conferences and national chapters to support and promote both in-country and continent-wide activities and policies which improve female participation in science and technology.

Source: GNA

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