Eight fellows of the Future Africa Research Leadership Fellowship programme (FAR-LeaF) of the University of Pretoria presented their research at this week's prestigious SRI2023 Africa satellite event.

The eight FAR-LeaF Fellows – all Health Cluster members - reported findings from studies conducted in five African countries: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Malawi, and Ghana.

The Future Earth Africa Hub, supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF), hosted the Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress 2023 (SRI2023) Africa satellite event at Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).

The Africa Hub hosted the local-to-regional sessions with a regional to a global audience to explore action-forward approaches to sustainability research and innovation and integrate these insights into the SRI2023 congress program. The SRI Africa satellite event presented a mixture of cross-cutting plenary sessions, parallel thematic sessions, and live discussion tables.

The event provided a platform for engagement and collaboration and created opportunities for researchers and scientists, research managers, policymakers, and industry experts to share their ideas, relevant knowledge, and information to highlight and showcase regional sustainability challenges and opportunities in the region.

The event showcased the richness of African perspectives in sustainability science and innovation. It drew from the deeply rooted cultural and traditional contexts that value harmonious relationships between humans and nature and the innovations that characterised unrivalled economic growth. The African region has a wealth of knowledge and innovation for the wider world.

The FAR-LeaF Fellows’ research investigates non-pharmaceutical approaches communities implement to limit climate change impacts on health. Ultimately, they proposed a framework to strengthen the coordination of multi-sectoral adaptation actions or solutions to reduce the climate change effects on health systems in Africa.

Their hybrid session covered a series of case studies on adaptation interventions used to reduce the climate change impact in Africa. They drew on experiences and interventions covering poverty reduction and equity, household behaviour change, nature-based solutions, health systems and built environments.

Their session had three parts; firstly, case study presentations by Fellows; second, a representation of the interventional framework; lastly, a panel discussion and then a Q & A session with the audience. The FAR-LeaF Fellows who presented were:

1. Dr Vincent Pagiwa (Botswana) chaired the session, led discussions, and introduced the proposed multi-sectorial coordination adaptation framework for the health sector in Africa. Policy actions
2. Dr Samson Mhizha (Zimbabwe) highlighted resilience building among the vulnerable and marginalised populations in Zimbabwe. Poverty reduction and equity solutions
3. Dr Seraphine Mokake (Cameroon) discussed using indigenous knowledge system interventions to respond to climate change health impacts (learning from the Covid-19 pandemic) in Cameroon. Nature-based solutions
4. Dr Joseph Nelson Siewe Fodjo (Cameroon) described interventions that would curb onchocerciasis transmission, the novel "slash and clear" vector control technique against blackflies from his research conducted in Cameroon. Health system/services solutions
5. Dr Brighton Chunga (Malawi) focused on interventions to manage and allocate water during climate change-influenced disasters in Africa, learning from the case of Malawi. Built environment actions

The Africa Hub hosted the local-to-regional sessions with a regional to a global audience to explore action-forward approaches to sustainability research and innovation and integrate these insights into the SRI2023 congress program.

FAR-LeaF’s team who physically attended the SRI2023 Africa satellite event in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth). From left are FAR-LeaF program director Prof Stephanie Burton, Drs Vincent Pagiwa, Brighton Chunga, Ebenezer Amankwaa and Samson Mhiza

6. Prof. Nkechi S. Owoo (Ghana) discussed the effects of multidimensional poverty on climate adaptation and mitigation and highlighted gender differences in experiences, coping and adaptation strategies in response to climate change in Ghana. Behaviour changes and awareness solutions
7. Dr Jumoke I. Oladele (Nigeria) shared the African-tailored mental-wellbeing scale as a non-drug-based therapy intervention for supporting health systems. Psycho-social-based solutions
8. Dr Ebenezer F. Amankwaa (Ghana) will focus on the impact of extreme weather conditions on healthcare provision and share some reflections on resilience-building strategies by service providers and community members in Ghana. Health system/services solutions

Heidi Sonnnekus | FAR-LeaF


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.