By Sharon Atieno

As the world gears up for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, a group of 45 young researchers from several African countries were inaugurated in Nairobi to benefit from a career development program which will equip them to help smallholder farmers cope with climate change.

“Climate change continues to devastate crop production and supply chains undermining poverty eradication and food security efforts across Africa. Scientific research is critical to helping our communities adapt and Kenya is proud to be the home of the AWARD program which is hosted at the World Agroforestry,” noted Dr. Oscar Mugenyi, Director of research and innovation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya.

The cohort inaugurated yesterday by African Women in Agricultural and Research Development (AWARD) in collaboration with France’s Agropolis Foundation was selected from a pool 1523 applicants. They are part of a USD 19.2 million initiative dubbed, the One Planet Fellowship which will be invested in 630 African and European scientists in a period of five years.

This first cohort from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, Mali and Nigeria will participate in a three-year program that will equip them with scientific research,  gender analysis and leadership skills while connecting them to a global community of climate researchers.

“Climate change has been proven to impact African women and youth disproportionately so the One Planet Fellowship will pay particular attention to building scientists’ gender analysis skills.  We anticipate that the gender-responsive climate adaptation solutions developed by the One Planet Laureates will have the added impact of helping bridge the gender gap that currently exists in Africa’s agricultural sector ,” said Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, AWARD’s Executive Director during the launch.

Unlike others, the One-Planet Fellowship will offer an opportunity for African scientists to mentor emerging European scientists who will gain insights on African research priorities and valuable exposure to the contexts and conditions within which scientific research is carried out in Africa.

“This is a drop in the bucket for what African farmers are going to need,” Dr. Kamau- Rutenberg added with regards to the Climate Action Summit, noting that there was need for more investment in African action such as redoubling of funding that is going to African farmers for adaptation.