Eight FAR-LeaF fellows made their mark at last week’s Climate Health African Network for Collaboration and Engagement (CHANCE) conference in Gaborone, Botswana. The fellows are all part of the Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) Programme.

The CHANCE network brings together policymakers, researchers, climate scientists, and other stakeholders working on climate change and health in Africa to coordinate their work and develop new ideas. The network falls within an international climate and health network of research projects called EN BEL (Enhancing Belmont Research Action to support EU policymaking on climate change and health).

CHANCE aims to develop synergies in East and Southern Africa, advance policymaking across the region, facilitate knowledge exchanges, learning, and cooperation, and provide technical support for national or regional applications for funding for climate change and health programming and research.

The network covers three thematic areas: extreme heat, air pollution from wildfires, and climate and infectious disease in Africa. Anyone working in the climate change and health field in Africa can become a member of the CHANCE network, including people working in the local or national government, research institutes, climate services, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs.

The FAR-LeaF Health Cluster used the opportunity of the CHANCE conference to conduct a round table discussion between the fellows, policymakers, climate-health experts and individuals working in the climate change and health space. The session covered a series of case studies on adaptation interventions to reduce climate change impact in Africa. These drew on experiences and interventions covering poverty reduction and equity, household behaviour change, nature-based solutions, health systems and services, and the built environment.

The two-hour discussion followed keynote speakers under the theme of “Adaptation in the health sector/health systems resilience” presented in three parts: First, some case study presentations by Health Cluster Fellows; Second, a round table discussion; and third, a Q&A session with the audience.

The session was attended by the European Union ambassador to Botswana and the SADC region, the Minister of Health and delegates from the Ministries of Health across Africa, NGOs, institutions working on climate, the WHO-AFRO regional representative, AMREF Africa, and other regional development partners.

Session chair Dr Vincent Pagiwa (University of Botswana) introduced the multi-sectoral coordination adaptation framework for the health sector in Africa.

Dr Nkechi Owoo of the University of Ghana discussed the effects of climate shocks on mental health outcomes and explored how this differs in poor vs. non-poor households in Ghana.

Dr Samson Mhizha of the University of Zimbabwe explored climate vulnerability and the resilience processes among vulnerable and marginalised children in Zimbabwe, especially those working and living on the streets.

Dr Seraphine Mokake of the University of Douala, Cameroon, discussed using indigenous knowledge system interventions to respond to climate change health impacts, learning from the COVID-19 epidemic.

The FAR-LeaF Health Cluster used the opportunity of the CHANCE meeting to conduct a round table discussion between the fellows, policymakers, climate-health experts, and individuals working in the climate change and health space.

Dr Vincent Pagiwa recently chaired the FAR-LeaF Health Cluster event at the CHANCE Network conference in Botswana.

Dr Joseph Nelson Siewe Fodjo of the Brain Research Africa Initiative (BRAIN) described interventions that would curb onchocerciasis transmission – a novel “slash and clear” vector control technique against blackflies from his research conducted in Cameroon.

Dr Brighton Chunga from Mzuzu University, Malawi, focused on interventions to manage and allocate water during climate change-influenced disasters in Africa and presented a case from Malawi.

Dr Jumoke Oladele from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, focused on an African-tailored mental well-being scale as a non-drug-based therapy intervention for supporting health systems.

Dr Ebenezer Amankwaa from the University of Ghana focused on the impact of extreme weather conditions on healthcare provision and shared some reflections on resilience-building strategies by service providers and community members in Ghana.

Heidi Sonnekus | FAR-LeaF Program


The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.