West African Network for Studies of Environmental Change (WANSEC)
It is proposed to create a West African network, including the University of Dakar, Senegal, Technical University of Bamako, Mali, University of Ghana, Legon, and the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; collaborating on research-based development of capacity within studies of environmental change, using Earth Observation and GIS techniques. The network will build upon three terminated, bilateral ENRECA projects, involving all the partners except the Technical University of Bamako. In all three cases the collaboration has involved the establishment of facilities and development of competences within Earth Observation and GIS. The suggested project is intended to build on this through research-based capacity development and by furthering South-South collaboration links. The collaborative research will revolve around the theme of climate change impacts. It will include four sub-projects, each involving at least three of the partners. The list of sub-projects will be revised annually by a scientific steering committee with representatives of all universities. From the outset the four sub-projects agreed upon are the following: 1) Earth observation of changes in rural land use/cover and vegetation productivity. 2) GIS-based studies of urban and peri-urban land use dynamics. 3) Earth Observation of changes in water resource availability. 4) Earth Observation of savanna fires and GIS-based analysis of their causes and effects. All projects will include joint research activities, including field campaigns in selected study areas. A preliminary identification of such joint study areas has been done. In addition to these joint research activities, the project will involve organization of at least six PhD-courses, covering both technical issues within Earth Observation and GIS and thematic research training issues related to the research projects. The project will be coordinated jointly by Rasmus Fensholt, DGG, and Cheikh Mbow, Institute des Sciences de l’Environnement (ISE), University of Dakar. This implies that the involvement of both English- and French-speaking countries is supported (both are fluent in French and English). In order to promote exchange also of technical expertise within the project, a ‘technical support group’, involving technicians from four of the five institutions have been created. To minimize costs it is suggested that all activities, including PhD-courses as well as technical support, are organized in the region to the extent possible. The project is planned to support 4 PhD-scholarships, one in each of the West African countries involved. Technical University of Mali is without a specific PhD-program. It is planned that the project will support the enrollment of a PhD. student from Mali in a PhD-program at one of the other partner universities.
Completion Report - Summary:
The Wansec project aimed at an improved understanding of changes in the biophysical environment, natural resource management and physical planning in the face of climate change. This has been reached through development of capacity within the use of geo-informatics, including Earth Observation and GIS techniques and establishment of a strong South-South network collaboration (Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana).
The project has enabled 7 PhD scholarships to be enrolled at research institutions at 4 partner countries in West Africa of which 3(4) have graduated already. The capacity building through the PhD scholarships has been stepping stone for fruitful research collaboration between Danish research institutions and partner institutions and in-between West Africal partner institutions in particular.