WAC-SRT students’ Climate and Sustainable Development Action Club kicks-off youth-empowering capacity building
This Monday, 07th December 2020, a highly committed and motivated group of WAC-SRT students, the Climate and Sustainable Development Action Club (CSDAC), launches an innovative capacity building on “Enterpreneurship and Empowerement of Nigerien Youth in the face of Covid-19”. The project is one of 25 award-winning initiatives selected among more than 1300 applications from 14 countries where Plan International West and Central Africa operates. Strong commitment to enhancing local communities’ practices towards the SDGs and African Union Agenda 2063 –especially in regard to environmental protection, gender equality and climate change resilience, adaptation and mitigation– have been at the core of the activities of the CSDAC since its foundation in 2018.
2019 – Students from CSDAC make a nursery reusing plastic bags collected in previous environmental cleaning actions. Later, hundreds of trees are distributed in a rural village, within a CSDAC-community collaboration for desertification contention (SDG 2 and 13)
The student organization has also been active in social media in several awareness-raising campaigns before and especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, about which they also mobilized sharing information on prevention measures. Going beyond their climate-change related mandate, CSDAC students’ actions during the pandemic show once more their dedication to improving the lives of their communities, contributing to increase the social impact of their research and of the university in their surroundings. If you want to learn more about these students’ inspiring actions, have a look at the interview! It is also worth checking out their work in their Facebook and YouTube channels. We congratulate the CSDAC team, especially the team that put this award-winning proposal together, for their encouraging example: Mamane Bawa Sakina, Délano Thierry Odou, Segbedji Geraldo Favi, Amal Salla Mayaki and Lémonla Armel Otekpo. And we thank our soon-to-be graduated master student Segbedji Geraldo Favi for taking the time for this interview.
On the right: CSDA team meeting, Niamey, 2019
How did you come to know about the Plan International call, and how did you and your colleagues have the idea to submit a proposal?
From May 29 to June 7 2020, Plan International West and Central Africa launched the call for application for creative, innovative, local projects with a link to address one of the challenges posed by the COVID-19. This project is known as the “Youth Challenge Fund (YCF)” and aims to finance groups/associations of young girls, boys between the ages of 10 to 23, in the 14 countries of operation of the Organization.
Therefore, applying to the YCF requires a Commitment to Act, Learn, Inspire and Share with Youth and Communities in the region. The call for applications was published on several social media, especially on Facebook, where the information was seen by Armel Otekpo (Funds miner). More than 1.300 entries were submitted for the 1st edition of the Youth Challenge Fund, a competition aimed at supporting young committed leaders in the West and Central Africa region. But only 25 were selected including the CSDAC in the category “Youth empowerment and entrepreneurship”.
What exactly is your proposal, what do you envisage with this project?
The project is entitled: Entrepreneurship and Empowerment of Nigerian Youth in the face of Covid-19. It was inspired by two significant facts with which the youth in our environment were confronted:
• High unemployment rate, women being more impacted;
• Accentuation of economic vulnerability of the majority of the population, mostly young people, living on a daily basis, with the wake of COVID-19 and restriction measures
So, the project aims to strengthen the capacity and empower of young people, especially girls, through training on the installation and deployment of solar systems for irrigation in Niger, which allows them to be operational on the market.
And how does your proposal build on what you and your colleagues have been learning and discussing within the WAC-SRT master program?
Given the interdisciplinary nature of the WAC-SRT Program, we received various courses on Solar Energy, Irrigation and the nexus Water-Energy-Food (WEF), which on the first hand give us the foundation to understand the science behind this terminology and the expertise to apply and on the other hand to be aware of the challenges our communities are facing, and what solutions are out there to be implemented in a sustainable manner. Based on that, and with the wake of COVID-19, we have built around this to propose this Youth Capacity-building project to address a gap in the society, especially in Niger, and share with our peers the knowledge we got from this program. Moreover, the tips we learned from the Workshop organised at the centre on Proposal and Research writing really helped us a lot to write a winning proposal.
When have you prepared the submission? How has the pandemic affected your work, how have you managed to discuss, meet, and how did it affect the format/idea of your proposal?
This project was written during the COVID-19 period, and the main challenge was to organise meetings among members, since restrictions were imposed on public gatherings. However, thank to technology, we were able to organise regular online meetings using Zoom or Google Meet, and keep in touch through a WhatsApp group specifically created for this project. Due to the availability of everyone and academic-related aspects, we always meet online from 11:30 PM, until the fixed objective was achieved.
How many people will join your capacity building? How many applications did you receive and how was the selection process?
We had planned to select 30 youth aged from 18 to 24 years old, from Niger, with the target of having 20 ladies and 10 men. The call for applications was accessible to potential candidates from 15 September to 02 October 2020. In order to encourage and give more details to the candidates, we also made a video.
Call for applications
We received a total of 167 applications from six countries (Niger, Benin, Togo, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon and Chad), 135 male and 32 female candidates. After the work of the selection committee on 22 October 2020, we selected 30 laureates living in Niamey to take part in the training. CSDAC members from the 1st and 2nd Batch of the WAC-SRT program have participated in the selection.
Presentation of the score grid by the selection committee coordinator.
Exchange with the selection committee
What do you want to achieve through this capacity-building?
With this project, our goal is to create a new generation of proactive technicians with an entrepreneurial spirit, to reduce not only the unemployment rate of young people but also to provide technical support to the population in need of integrated solutions for water, energy and agriculture. At the end of the capacity-building project, they will receive a set of technical tools (Digital Electrical meter, screwdrivers, etc.) that will allow them to start to monetise what they have learned.
What would you tell other students in Tamale, in Wa, in Niamey or in other African Excellence Centers based on your experience?
What we can say to our colleagues is that we must always think about impacting our environment and give back to the community. It is the only way for us to be part of the change we want in our community and the continent as a whole. The main driver for our project was the sense of responsibility we developed in front of the situation the youth were facing during the early moment of the pandemic as a result of the different restriction measures put in place, that prevented youth from going out to work –since they are living on a daily basis, with informal business.
We would like to invite our colleagues to believe in themselves. Putting together their effort and expertise, they can achieve more than they can think of. They should also persevere and be ready for the sacrifice (in other words, nothing come easy). This is not the only project we submitted in that time. We have applied to three other fund challenges dedicated to COVID-19 ideas during that period, and we did not always succeed, but we kept pushing. It happened that we worked throughout the night till the morning without noticing, because what we wanted was to achieve our goal.
A boost for regional sustainable development: West African Centre for Sustainable Rural Transformation launched in Ghana
July 11, 2019.
Launch ceremony at the University for Development Studies in Wa, Ghana, with more than 100 high-ranking participants, students and researchers from six West African countries and Germany on June 26, 2019.
The West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation will address technological, socio-economic, socio-political, administrative and cultural aspects of sustainable rural transformation. It will do so by conducting interdisciplinary research and developing teaching programs. Research and teaching will bring produce the required knowledge and applicable technological solutions, especially in the fields of renewable energies and agricultural water management. In addition, locally adapted business models and administrative approaches will be generated.
Capacity building at the core
The basic component of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation is capacity building. Based on its long-lasting experience ZEF will be leading the collaboration with the University for Development Studies in Ghana and the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger. An additional partner, with whom ZEF has been running successfully Graduate Programs such as the Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies, the Institute for Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana provides additional expertise and staff capacity training for the other African partners. The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Ministry through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Overall funding for the period 2017-2021 is approximately two million Euro.
High-ranking launch event in Ghana
The Centre was official launched on June 26, 2019 by the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin Salih in the presence of the Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, and other distinguished guest such as the Head of Local Government Services, Dr. Nana Atto Arthur, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger, Prof. Dr. Adamou Rabani, the country director of the DAAD, Lena Leumer, as well as the chairman and members of the university council of the University for Development Studies, as well as ZEF project leader Dr. Wolfram Laube. They were joined by more than 100 campus principals, deans, researchers, lecturers and students from Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Liberia.
Strengthening African networks
Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye explained that postgraduate training across the globe had undergone great transformation which required collaboration among the various institutions in order to provide excellent joint programs, supervision, research and teaching. He said that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation had begun to provide scholarships to a number of students within and outside the country to study at the university and had also broadened academic networks among the partners. This is leading to enhanced collaboration in research and academic exchange drawing on the expertise from of various partners for post-graduate teaching and the design of research projects.
Among the speakers were Dr. Derbile, Dean of the Faculty for Planning and Land Management at the University for Development Studies in Wa in Upper West Ghana, host of the opening ceremony and also an alumnus of ZEF’s PhD program, Dr. Wolfram Laube, project leader at ZEF and Prof. Susana Barrera, Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Nacional University in Bogotá. All speakers expressed their enthusiasm about the opportunities for scientific collaboration across borders, language barriers and disciplines provided by this project. Lena Leumer, Director of the DAAD Information Centre in Accra, said in her speech how excited she was that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation was part of the DAAD-funded African Excellence Program (the the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies was also part of the DAAD Excellence Program).
Dr. Michael Ayamga, first Alumnus of the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies extended his thanks to the participants of whom many had travelled from far distances. Additionally, he reminded the audience of the importance of establishing enduring relations and networks to share experiences and knowledge for mutual benefit. The ceremony closed with the official commissioning of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation building on the campus of the University for Development Studies at Wa in Upper West Ghana. The campus is hosting lecture rooms, computer lab, as well as office space for students and lecturers.
First Summer School concluded
The launch ceremony also marked the completion of the first one-month Summer School of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation taking place from June 3 to June 30, 2019. The Summer School brought together 39 Students pursuing different master programs at the Faculty for Science and Technology at the University Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger and the Faculties for Agribusiness and Communication Sciences at the University for Development Studies in Tamale (Upper East Ghana) and Wa. The participants of the Summer School were coming from six West African Countries (Ghana, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liberia).
Written by Dr. Wolfram Laube and Alma van der Veen.
Bonn, April 2018. The West African Center for Sustainable Transformation (WAC-SRT) is one of eight Centers of African Excellence funded by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD under the “Aktion Afrika” initiative of the German Federal Foreign Office.
What is the WAC-SRT and what does it want to achieve?
Established in 2017, WAC-SRT has been developing interdisciplinary, transnational research and teaching programs. The Center aims at generating expertise, applicable technological solutions, locally adapted business models and development management approaches for sustainable rural development and political stability in West Africa. To do so, the center enhances research and teaching capacities as well as the infrastructure of three African partner faculties at universities in Niger and Ghana, which are addressing natural science/engineering, agribusiness and rural economics, as well as development governance, respectively.
Partner institutions are the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University Bonn, Germany, the Institute for Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana /Legon, the Faculty of Planning and Land Management as well as the Faculty of Agribusiness and Communication Science at the University of Development Studies (UDS) in Wa/Tamale (Ghana), and the Faculty of Science and Technology at the Université Abdou Moumouni (UAM) in Niamey (Niger).
Activities since kick-off:
Since its inception the WAC-SRT has focused on the enhancement of academic infrastructure at the partner faculties in Ghana and Niger where lecture halls and project offices were rehabilitated and newly furnished. Additionally, computer labs and E-learning equipment was procured and installed.
Nearby Niamey, the WAC-SRT has built a demonstration site for renewable energy generation and improved water supply. It consists of a photovoltaic power station and is equipped with a borehole including pumps for domestic and irrigation water supplies. The station will be used for research purposes and to train government and NGO staff promoting decentralized renewable energy generation and water supply infrastructure.
In Ghana, the curricula of two master programs at UDS (M.Phil. in Development Management and M.Phil. in Agricultural Economics) were reviewed. In Niger, a new interdisciplinary master program in Sustainable Rural Transformation was designed and accredited at the UAM. Calls for admission for all three master programs have been published and 18 students will be supported with DAAD scholarships from September 2018.
Currently, WAC-SRT is organizing capacity building programs for administrative and academic staff of the African partner institutes. The trainings are organized by ISSER and are held in Accra. The focus lies on data management and E-Learning for administrative staff, while academics will be trained in academic writing as well as poverty measurement and analysis.
Vice Dean visiting Bonn:
As part of the academic networking within WAC-SRT, Samuel Bonye, the vice dean of the Faculty of Planning and Land Management (UDS), is visiting ZEF from April to June 2018. During his visit he makes use of ZEF’s academic infrastructure to work on his study of “Multi Stakeholder Players in the Land Sector in Peri-Urban Wa; competition, conflict complementarity?”, that he will present and discuss with colleagues at ZEF in May.
Calls for Application: Master Programs of the NEW West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation (WAC-SRT) in Ghana and Niger, 2018
since last November the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation (WAC-SRT) has joined the African Excellence initiative. It is run in collabotration between the Center for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn, Germany, the Université Abdou Moumouni (UAM) in Niamey, Niger, the University for Development Studies (UDS), Wa and Tamale, Ghana and Institute for Social and Economic Research (SSER) of the University of Ghana. For more information see:
Apart from the enhancement of research and teaching infrastructure, capacity building, academic networking it also provides stipends for master students in three new/reviewed master programs addressing sustainable rural transformation from and inter/multidisciplinary perspective:
- Integrated Master Program in Sustainable Transformation of Rural Areas (Faculty of Science and Technology, UAM (M. Sc.)
- Master Program in Development Management, Faculty of Planning and Land Management, UDS, Wa (M. Phil.)
- Master Program in Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agribusiness and Communication Science, UDS, Tamale (M. Phil)
The calls are open for ainternational applicants. Deadline for application is the 31.05.2018
Please find links to the the respective calls below.