In a training module in Lomé, Togo, organized by the UNU Institute for Envirornment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) from 10 to 21 June 2013, 10 students from the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) project received training in humanitarian coordination and emergency preparedness/response procedures.
This training addressed a crucial issue, as extreme weather events are increasing in intensity and frequency. The devastating flood disasters in Africa in 2007, for example, were the worst recorded in several decades, causing more than 200 deaths and displacing hundreds of thousands of people in nearly 20 countries across the continent. Togo was one of the badly hit countries; in some villages in the remote Savanna region in the north, more than half of all homes reportedly were washed away.
Lectures covered the important role of geo-information in analysing and supporting all phases of the disaster management cycle. Students also received training on major international mechanisms to access space-based information and other geo-information services, and their role in rapid acquisition and distribution of data products for useful forecasting and information for local decision makers.
Students gained field-work experience in a flood-prone urban area of Lomé, undertaking a detailed GPS mapping and field assessment exercise embedded in a scenario-based flood simulation. Esri supported the University of Lomé and the WASCAL project by donating an essential software package for the exercise.
UNU-EHS contributed five lecturers to the training module. Other lecturers included staff from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Regional Office for West and Central Africa (Senegal), the Togolese Red Cross and the University of Würzburg (Germany).
WASCAL is a research-focused programme designed to help tackle the challenges of climate change impacts in West Africa, and thereby enhance the resilience of human and environmental systems to climate change and increased climate variability. It does so by strengthening the relevant research infrastructure and capacity in West Africa and by pooling expertise from 10 West African countries and Germany. WASCAL is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), coordinated by the Center for Development Research (ZEF, Bonn University), and implemented through a collaborative effort by West African and German partners.
In parallel to the core research programme, a graduate studies programme (GSP) supports and facilitates academic education amongst West African universities in association with German counterpart institutions. The GSP in Lomé has a special focus on “Climate Change and Human Security”.
For more information, see Training module on Disaster Risk Reduction in West Africa on the UNU-EHS website.