- The University of Ouagadougou recently graduated its first class of 20 specialists in sustainable wetland conservation. Burkina Faso hopes to make use of the young scientists to design durable socio-economic development strategies for the potentially productive wetland ecosystems of the Sahel.
According to information released by the environmentalist union IUCN today, 20 Burkinabe students received their diplomas three weeks ago, after having finalised the Ouagadougou University's first superior level course in wetland ecology and conservation. The Burkinabe capital is with this strengthening its position as an environmental science powerhouse in the Sahel region.
Wetlands are now increasingly recognised as very productive ecosystems that may play a significant role in the Sahelian region's socio-economic strategies for sustainable development. As in most fields, however, the particular challenges relative to African environs are poorly studied.
The University of Ouagadougou, which only trained the 20 graduates on a temporary programme, now hopes that it can offer this specialist education on a regular basis. The Burkinabe university puts a special emphasis on environmental studies and holds that wetland ecology is of vital interest for the nation and the entire water-scarce Sahel region.
Professor Prosper Zombré, coordinator of the university's superior courses, emphasises that "in the Sahelian countries of West Africa, wetlands are of great importance, in particular regarding pastoral and agro-forestry production and in safeguarding biodiversity." It was therefore necessary to continue educating capable local scientists.
Such specialists, holds Mr Zombré, were needed to understand the complexity of processes in the Sahel's wetlands. With time, they could also help intervene in the management wetland zones and assist policy-makers in defining development schemes.
After organising superior training in wetland conservation successfully for one year, the University of Ouagadougou holds that it is fit to provide regular higher education in the field. The University however needed suitable premises to hold the courses and technical equipment such as computers, tele-detection and a minibus, Professor Zombré added.
The Burkinabe university launched the wetland ecology education in November 2003, after having received technical and financial aid from the Netherlands and IUCN. The superior courses extend over 18 months and aim at giving in-depth theory competence and practical experience from wetlands in Burkina Faso and at least one other West African country.
Lessons are divided into 13 different topics, ranging from basic understanding of wetland processes to the definition of management plans and water utilisation in different environs. Teaching is provided by professors of the University of Ouagadougou and occasional foreign specialist provided by environmentalist groups.
Burkina Faso has slowly developed into one of West Africa's leading countries regarding environmental science and knowledge. The country widely profited from the location of the headquarters of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) in Ouagadougou in 1973. CILSS is the regional competence centre on drought, agriculture, environmental issues and policy-making.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.