Fresh From Benin–Brad continues the flow of knowledge….

Pan African Climate Change Workshop

Day 2

Brad Brown

Today was an exciting day, as African solutions to issues of addressing climate change were addressed.

 If one were to read only the US media one would assume that Nigeria was nothing but strife and turmoil. One must realize that Nigeria is a large country with over 100 million people. Otherwise, assuming it is all strife and turmoil is like thinking that the disaster on Katrina was all that was going on in the United States.  

Without negating the importance of issues of strife, we focused on the outstanding work of the Nigerian space agency.  The current Nigerian satellite is in year 7 still working, two years beyond its expected life.  That satellite covers parts of Africa better than many other satellites and the images are free to regional researchers.  More importantly the next satellite getting ready to be launched will be state of the art matching top of the line expensive commercial satellites.  It will be capable of detail at the level of the size of an automobile and will be available free to researchers in the region working on impacts of climate change.   

The need to strengthen African Universities was stressed, but success stories were everywhere.  The presentation of the Centre for Climate Change and Freshwater Resources of the Federal University of Technology in Minna, based on sophisticated satellite image analyses by Dr. Appollonia Okhimamhe, was particularly impressive.  Likewise presentations from Ghana and Senegal, as well as others demonstrated the achievements being made in scientific and technical capabilities.

The discussions focused on developing a new paradigm for capacity development in Africa.  It must move to capacity empowerment and sustainability.   True partnerships among entities of equal value to the process, in this case the addressing of climate change impacts, must be demanded.  The problems are critical in the coastal areas, not to mention those inland, such as desertification, increased flooding, eroding away of shorelines swallowing roads and buildings, the need for safe drinking water, and on and on. 

Africa is rising to the challenge and if the promises of necessary resources done during the recent United Nations climate change meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark are carried out in a manner of equal partnerships, empowerment, and sustainability, then there is cause for optimism.  If the past is prologue where outside efforts come in and propose solutions, the ability for the impacts of climate change will overwhelm the area.  The paradigm must be changed.

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