Women scientists trained to tackle climate crisis
Publish date: 21 January 2020
Issue Number: 638
Diary: Legalbrief Environmental
A new programme is training African scientists to be leaders in their field, with a focus on meeting the needs of women farmers in adapting to a warming climate. According to a report on the allAfrica site, as climate change fuels extreme weather and threatens harvests, Africa needs more scientific expertise to help small-scale farmers adapt, especially women who tend to be hit worst, said Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, director of Nairobi-based group African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). ‘This means women's continued under-representation in climate change research is no longer acceptable,’ said Kamau-Rutenberg, noting that few have opportunities in science education. AWARD is leading the One Planet Fellowship, a new initiative that will train 630 African and European scientists to use a gender lens to help African smallholders adapt to climate shifts, unusually offering Africans the opportunity to serve as mentors. Under-investment in African scientific research capacity means ‘we still don't even know the specific ways climate change will manifest ... in Africa,’ said Kamau-Rutenberg. In September 2019, the three-year career development programme welcomed its first cohort of 45 fellows from Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo, Mali, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso – more than half of them female. SA’s Debra Roberts, co-chair of a working group for the IPCC's ongoing sixth scientific assessment report and the first female co-chair from Africa, said the panel's work showed tackling climate change required all of society to respond. ‘Women have different lived experiences and views on the problems and solutions,’ she said.