Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Regional Science Service Centre (RSSC) a new German scientific cooperation

The Regional Science Service Centre (RSSC) for Climate Change and Adapted Land management in the Southern African Subregion initiative is a new scientific cooperation approach and a great challenge particularly because of an anticipated long lasting establishment of research infrastructure.

It is a joint initiative of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia, in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

The key aim of the RSSC is to provide scientific services for adaptation to climate change and social and economic change through improved understanding of ecosystem functions, drivers & services; which is particularly important given the alarming predictions for southern Africa. A strong focus on service delivery and translation of scientific results for various users has a dimension of relevance which makes RSSC a novel type of institution.

In parallel to this initiative in southern Africa, also in West Africa a West African Science Service Center for Climate and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) is presently being developed. The objectives of the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) are to
(1) improve  the climate change research infrastructure and capacity in West Africa,
(2) explore science-based scenarios and options for enhancing the resilience of human and natural systems in the face of climate change,
(3) assist decision makers in design  and implementation of land-use concepts that ensure the provision of the essential ecosystem services while supporting  the livelihoods of local communities, and
(4) help educate scientists and policy makers that have intimate knowledge of the different climate-related issues and help the region in developing suitable coping strategies. WASCAL will make available to the West African research community German expertise on climate and land use through equitable partnerships and develop networks for scientific and educational exchange in the ten partner countries.

WASCAL involves three major tasks: a) the establishment of a Competence Center in Ouagadougou, as a consultative instance in climate and adapted land-use change related issues for the national and regional institutions; b) the construction of a Core Research Program based on a German-West African consortium, in charge of design and conduct ad-hoc research in the mentioned themes, and provision of inputs to the Competence Center; and c) the foundation and sponsoring of Capacity Building Nodes, responsible of high-level and multidisciplinary education and research (graduate school) focused on the targeted issues and in cooperation with the local universities.

German science consortium:
CLIMATE - Climate Service Center (CSC), Hamburg*
CLIMATE - German Meteorological Service (DWD), Offenbach "(associated partner)"
WATER - Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover
WATER - Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (FSU-Jena), Department of Geoinformatics Hydrology and Modelling (DGHM)
WATER - Institute for Social-Ecological Research GmbH - ISOE - Frankfurt
REMOTE SENSING - German Aerospace Center DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen
REMOTE SENSING - Universität Trier, Remote Sensing Department
REMOTE SENSING - Universität Würzburg, Department of Remote Sensing
BIOGEOCHEMISTRY - Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena
MICROBIOLOGY & FOOD SECURITY - Universität Bremen, Microbiology Institute
SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY - Universität Hamburg, Institute for Social & Cultural Anthropology
SOIL SCIENCE - Universität Hamburg, Institute for Soil Science
BIODIVERSITY - Universität Hamburg: BioCentre Zoology and Botany
ECONOMICS &GOVERNANCE - Philipps-Universität Marburg - Institute for Co-operation in Developing Countries (ICDC)
FOOD SECURITY & CERTIFICATION - Universität Hannover, Institute for Environmental Economics and World Trade (IUW)

 * Other activities of the German Climate Service Center (CSC) in Africa include the following projects:
CONGO: provision of regional decision makerswith climate change scenarios for the Congo Basin
CORDEX: international Cordinated Regional climate Downscaling Experiment
GENUS: the marine Benguela current and consequences for regional climate
IMPETUS: focusing on the hydrological cycle of two major catchments in West Africa
POTATO: reduction of climate vulnerability of poor farm households in East Africa

Southern African consortium: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia.
Multiple centres in each participating country based on thematic strengths: each country has to decide whether they will use existing structures or build new infrastructures. Each country should identify its strength, and collaboration should be encouraged where countries strongly share a common strength. Countries should make proposals on preferred themes/infrastructure. Namibia will host the Secretariat for the RSSC in southern Africa.

The research proposal should be in line with the needs identified at the workshops held in 2010 and the activities of the German Science consortium as preliminarily approved by BMBF. The basic project proposals have to be submitted by the end of February 2011 to the BMBF and it is anticipated that the full project proposal will be submitted during 2011.

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