African Scientists and Policymakers Rally for Data Collaboration to Address Climate and Development Challenges

With a resounding call for unified action, scientists and policymakers from across the African continent convened at the 7th Regional Center for Mapping and Resources Development (RCMRD) international conference, held this month in Nairobi, Kenya. The imperative to collaborate and share research data in the pursuit of addressing urgent climate and development concerns took centre stage during the gathering.

Davie Chilonga, the Permanent Secretary of Malawi's Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Development, sounded the clarion call against the fragmented approach to data management that has been impeding forward momentum. Chilonga underscored the dire need to disseminate scientific findings to policymakers, underlining that collective efforts are essential for meaningful solutions. He remarked, "The greatest obstacle we face is working in isolation; we must liberate our data discoveries from the shelves and share them until they reach those who shape policies."

Chilonga underscored that the harmonious exchange of scientific data with policymakers is a linchpin to resolving pivotal issues like food security and climate change that loom large over African nations. He further urged governments to allocate resources to fortify the creation of robust, actionable data sets.

The conference, framed around the theme 'NEXT LEVEL, Space to Community,' saw participation from over 1,000 delegates representing 20 member countries of the RCMRD. The event assumed a platform to illuminate the transformative prowess of geoscience in shaping policies that bear tangible results. Dr. Moses Akali, Director of Kenya's Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing, emphasized the importance of scientists bridging the gap between themselves and policymakers, fostering trust and effective communication.

Mbarak Husna, the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the United Nations Kenya office, echoed the resounding call for collaboration and cooperation. Husna emphasized the criticality of intertwining academic research with policy formulation, underscoring that this synergy holds the key to a sustainable trajectory forward.

As the conference drew to a close, a unanimous consensus emerged among participants—shared data, open lines of communication, and trust-building are the pivotal building blocks to surmount the intricate challenges precipitated by climate change and food security across Africa. The event, a dynamic crucible of ideas, stood as a platform for fostering the symbiosis of scientific insight and policy enactment, steering toward transformational change.


Article by Jed Mwangi