Water, food security project formed to benefit 270mln people in Malawi, Kenya, Ghana

In a bid to boost food security, a policy oriented research project, named Building Research Capacity for Sustainable Water and Food Security In Drylands of sub-Saharan Africa (BRECcIA ) has been formed, to strengthen research capacity and capabilities in institutions in three countries; Malawi, Kenya and Ghana.

Professor Sosten Chiotha, Regional Director for Leadership for Environment and Development, Southern and eastern Africa (LEAD-SEA

Professor Sosten Chiotha, Regional Director for Leadership for Environment and Development, Southern and Eastern Africa (LEAD-SEA, says the project will promote capacity building through collaboration, research and training through  partnership of regional and international, academic and non-governmental organisations.
“We want to strengthen research capacity and capabilities in institutions in these three countries so that we are able to carry out impactful research that leads to positive policy and practice change for sustainable water and food
security,” Chiotha said.
“The project, which intends to benefits 270 million  people in drylands is aimed at enabling partner institutions to understand the barriers and enablers to high quality scientific research, and to co-develop a pipeline of capacity-building activities to professionals research technical and management skills, professional skills, and professional development.
“The project will help to develop research networks across African institutions around water and food security, and to leverage these to co-design pertinent research questions on key global challenges.
“We want to promote engagement in collaborative research programmes that advance knowledge of food and water security by among other things identifying solutions to water and food security challenges, and produce a new cohort of trained researchers in this field that are capable of leading and shaping the direction of future research,” he said.
As part of the project, Chiotha said staff from Chancellor College (Faculty of Science) and LEAD-SEA were on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kisumu, Kenya for a meeting addressing water and food security in Africa’s dry lands.
The two institutions from Malawi are members of a project consortium that brings together partners from Kenya’s Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Technical University of Kenya and from University of Ghana as well as regional centres (AGRHYMET, SARIMA, WaterNET) and UK partners (University of Southampton, Kings College London, The International Institute for Environment and Development).
Chiotha says the BRECcIA project is a four-year project funded by the United Kingdom Research Councils under the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) program.
More than 40 researchers attended the Kisumu meeting for the project’s annual research meeting.
“One of the main goals of the meeting was to co-design a research programme that investigates the factors that drive food and water insecurity, from regional to community level and the interventions that could be used to improve livelihoods, from policy to new technologies.” Chiotha said.
According to Chiotha this interdisciplinary project brings together experts from the arenas of climate science, social sciences, agriculture, environmental development, policy analysis, education and professional development and more to consider the impact that can be delivered across a programme of specific research projects.
The meeting included development of the specific context of study, including mapping the drylands of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi and considering the variability that is associated with them.
The project will run from 2018 to 2021. Participants from Malawi included Chiotha, Dr Levis Eneya (Dean Faculty of Science), Dr Eston Sambo and Dr Betty Chinyamunyamu as members of the Scientific Advisory Board.
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