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Supporting the search for the next generation of African agricultural climate scientists

With the UK hosting the 23rd UN Climate Conference in Glasgow in November 2021, helping to contribute to positive change is a cause closely aligned to WRENmedia’s own passions and inspiration. Read on to find out more about how WRENmedia are supporting one organisation in their efforts to invest in a new generation of African climate scientists.


With rising global temperatures, costly and dangerous impacts – from flooded homes and deadly heat waves to devastated supply chains and crop failure – are becoming more threatening by the day. We urgently need to ramp up efforts to both reduce emissions and adapt to the changing climate. Research and innovation are key tools as is effective communication.


Changes resulting from climate change are already undermining global efforts to reduce poverty and for Africa to transform its agriculture and feed its growing population. It is paramount that suitable, sustainable solutions which address the needs and priorities of the diverse agricultural-dependent communities in Africa, recorded to be more than 70% of the population, are created. More fundamentally, Africa must look to the next generation of young researchers to provide home-grown solutions. Africa therefore needs to develop its own scientific capacity to address the increasingly complex challenges we face in a changing climate.


Investing in the future


With this in mind, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) has announced their call for the third cohort of the One Planet Fellowship. The call targets high-potential scientists to build a robust pipeline of scientists equipped to help Africa’s smallholder farmers cope with climate change. Young, female researchers are particularly encouraged to apply. The US$20 million One Planet Fellowship will invest in over 630 agricultural scientists to foster their leadership expertise, strengthen research skills, including integrating gender into their work, and catalyse partnerships in Africa and between Africa and Europe.


Having been involved in the inaugural launch of the One Planet Fellowship in Nairobi in September 2019, WRENmedia has been supporting AWARD with communications for the current call to promote this exciting opportunity to relevant audiences in the target countries; Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia. Outputs include a social media toolkit, including eye-catching graphics, to promote the key characteristics of the fellowship and serve as a call-to-action to anyone who may be eligible to apply. A press release, as well as a short flyer, have also been written and designed to be sent out to African institutions, organisations and the media to circulate the call as widely as possible to relevant audiences.


Since launching the inaugural call in 2019, AWARD has received over 2,400 applications and, to date, 89 outstanding scientists from 14 African countries have been selected as One Planet Fellowship Laureate Candidates. Selected researchers participate in an intensive, three-year non-residential, career acceleration process to become One Planet Laureates. “The One Planet Fellowship has made me appreciate the critical role of women in science to transform Africa,” says Austin Phiri, Chief Agricultural Research Scientist, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, and Malawi 2019 One Planet Laureate Candidate.


Mevoyon Pamela Karrel Afokpe, Research Station Manager, East-West Seed International, Benin 2019 One Planet Laureate Candidate adds, “The One Planet Fellowship is a lifeline that supports sustainable development and addresses climate change.”


Making a difference


As AWARD’s Director, Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, explains, “the world needs the next generation of climate scientists to be well equipped for the next generation! Adapting to climate change requires an investment in context-specific knowledge. That’s what One Planet Fellowship is all about.”


The first and second cohort of One Planet Laureate Candidates, all under the age of 40 years, are working to develop climate adaptation solutions for Africa's smallholder farmers. Their research focuses on a variety of agricultural disciplines including livestock systems and greenhouse gas emissions; plant breeding; post-harvest management; natural resource management; food science, and research commercialisation among others.

Miriam Karwitha, a 2019 Laureate Candidate from Kenya, is a crop protection scientist and a university lecturer who equips young professionals and the farming community in Kenya to promote reforestation and train them on better crop protection approaches.


Moussa Kante a Mali scientist and a 2020 Laureate Candidate specialises in agronomic research on phytosanitary issues, the protection of plants and the environment in general, and, more specifically, on Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB). He is working to understand the status of CBB in new geographical areas. Ultimately, his research aims to provide a better understanding of the spread of this pathogen in production areas to help breeders select varieties with long-term resistance to CBB.


If you are interested to help promote this call, you can find relevant information including further profiles of One Planet Laureates and photographs (CREDIT: AWARD), in this Dropbox folder as well as further information on the One Planet Fellowship website.

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