Future Africa Research Leadership Fellowship
“We chose some very talented early career researchers with excellent and ambitious projects relevant to the sustainability goals. There is an amazing range of topics – from biodiversity in environmental science right across the board to policy in agriculture, policy in landgrabs and policy in education; one on the impact of women in land governance and one on misinformation in communication in media. There is also a project on blockchain methodology in farming: using artificial intelligence systems to monitor climate and combine it with indigenous knowledge to develop a model farmers can use to monitor weather conditions to consider climate change in their day-to-day decision-making. There are quite a few projects on climate change, also on land usage – a very relevant issue - and even one about rehousing homeless children. The successful candidates present a vast, interesting range of well expressed, well-described projects with clear research questions, all feasible and relevant.”
Burton is very appreciative of the fellows’ supervisors at their home institutions: “They work closely with our researchers, as part of this team and program. I was pleasantly surprised, at a recent online meeting, where the fellows introduced their supervisors: The supervisors’ support of the fellows is critically important, and they will be involved all along, with regular interaction anticipated.”
Prof Burton said that Future Africa is proud of the base that the Far-LeaF team have established in the interim. “Logistics across the continent took some time, having to work across international borders, time zones and within online communication limitations, to finalize research plans, contracts, and budgets. From here on it is all about maintaining good communication, understanding the challenges the fellows are facing – and working things out.”
There is also much excitement about the virtual research environment (VRE) which will enable the fellows to share research through online collaboration. A critical factor for this project is connectivity, to enable community building and to establish research connections. Prof Burton pointed out that the FAR-LeaF team are taking a very hands-on approach to the programme, with regular meetings and interactions where the fellows get chances to input and air issues. In this way, the Future Africa Institute address challenges in Africa and look into the future to find sustainable solutions through research – this is one of the Future Africa key focus areas: research capacity building and networking to enable collaboration, and transformative change, across Africa.
“The Carnegie Corporation, whom we know are watching with interest, might soon find that this is a model for a program that can be expanded upon by Future Africa, and across Africa.”