Regional Science Service Centres (RSSC)

Climate change will hit Africa particularly hard, although it is the continent with the lowest levels of pollutant emissions. Africa therefore needs greater support in developing and implementing strategies and measures for adapting to climate change. Land use is a particularly important factor in this context, as ecosystem services safeguard the livelihoods of the population. This raises the increasingly urgent question of what changes in the climate and consequences for land use and water resources the countries of Africa must expect.

The aim of the initiative "Regional Science Service Centres in West and Southern Africa" is to help the regions most affected by climate change to establish appropriate scientific structures so that the states on the ground can make valid decisions themselves, for example with regard to their land use and water supply.

In July 2010, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), together with partners from eleven countries in Western and five countries in Southern Africa, began to establish one Regional Science Service Centre (RSSC) each in Africa. The BMBF has already invested more than 120 million Euros in the two centers WASCAL and SASSCAL from 2010 to 2020.

The BMBF is determined to continue supporting the efforts of African partners in the fight against the impacts of climate change within the framework of Germany's responsibility arising from the Paris Agreement and its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For this purpose, the BMBF is providing 10 million Euros each for the second research phase from 2020 to 2024. In the Graduate Studies Programme, a further 11 million Euros will be invested for WASCAL for the fourth year of the Graduate Studies Programme (GSP) and a further 3 million Euros for the SASSCAL Graduate Studies Programme (SGSP).

Building regional education and research capacities

WASCAL stands in particular for a renowned regional Graduate Studies Programme with an overarching focus on climate protection and climate adaptation. Since 2012, a total of more than 350 master's students and doctoral candidates have successfully graduated in four academic years. WASCAL is currently recruiting the fifth year of students in twelve master and doctoral programmes in eleven member countries from the ECOWAS region. The programmes have a long-term orientation in order to strengthen necessary competencies on site in a sustainable manner and to create perspectives for young scientists in their home countries.

In Western Africa, the states of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Germany, Gambia, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo cooperate in WASCAL.

Free access to weather and climate data

The SASSCAL WeatherNet and ObservationNet are an important result of this funding measure. It consists of 154 automated weather stations and the associated IT infrastructure for data exchange and free access to high-quality weather and climate data from the region. This opens up new opportunities for climate research and allows, among other things, the development of better management strategies for sustainable land and water management, risk analyses and forecasts for droughts and floods, and assessments of the effects of climate change. All the data collected by the African-German research consortium are available free of charge at the Climate Service Centre's "Open Access Data Center (OADC)" for further use by interested institutions, international researchers or for local policy advice.

In Southern Africa, SASSCAL is being implemented together with Angola, Botswana, Germany, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa.

Alumni Programme for SASSCAL and WASCAL

The joint alumni programme "climapAfrica - Climate change research alumni and postdocs in Africa" has been running since June 2019. This programme for the promotion of future leaders in climate research and climate protection is implemented scientifically and operationally by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). It includes an Excellence Postdoc Scholarship Programme as well as a diverse range of programmes for alumni. The DAAD cooperates closely with WASCAL and SASSCAL. The BMBF supports "climapAfrica" with a total of 4.5 million Euros.

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