Monday, 29 May 2017

NEWSLETTER #23 - SOCIETY OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS










Volume 6, Issue 1, January - March*  2017



CONTENT
  • Chair's Foreword**
  • Are there Enough Earth Scientists in Africa?
  • Book Review
  • Earth Science Events
  • References and Selected Reading
Chair's Foreword
In this issue we consider African human resources in the Earth Sciences, and acknowledge there is a huge gap in needs to be met.


Are there Enough  Earth Scientists in Africa?

Are there enough earth scientists in Africa? This question causes us to consider African nations' ability to be self sufficient to  provide their citizens'  basic necessities: food, clean water and sanitation,  energy, and the capacity to forewarn of geo-hazards such as droughts, floods, landslides as well as earthquakes and tsunamis (in the most extreme instances). It is perhaps easier to answer this when we consider the broader question: Does Africa have enough scientists  regardless of  discipline?

   The resounding answer, it seems, is negative, judging from the report on the current state of affairs.  A paper by Kariuki and Kay [1] points out that the African Union's AGENDA 2063 sets out a timetable of key African developments, although we do not know what actions on the ground have been taken and therefore on what basis these dates for developments  are predicted.

   A few statistics noted by the authors, highlight the extent to which Africa is behind in its education and creation of scientists:
  • Whilst the Continent is home to 15% of the world's population, it only produces 2% of the world's research. [Of course, the figure would be  improved if we add the work of  African scientists  produced in the diaspora ].
  • Africa has 198 researchers per 1 million people, compared to 428 in Chile alone, and over 4000 per million in UK and US.
  • To achieve the world average  for number of researchers per capita, Africa would need to train a million new PhD's.
The figures above indicate that Africa's scientific  research skills shortage is a crisis, and major factor of underdevelopment.  It follows logically, that Africa is chronically  under resourced in earth scientists, since science education as a whole is way  behind the global average.

   In consideration of the African diaspora, statistics collected by Czujko [3]  show that, for instance, African Americans are the smallest group of earth science graduates, with just 0.4% of earth science PhDs being African American (compared with 1.4% of them, who were Hispanics), and with just 1.4% of earth science first degrees  being held by African Americans (compared with 4% held by Hispanics).

   Huntoon, et al point to social pressures that prevent African Americans from choosing earth science careers and science in general, including stereotypes that label certain groups as lacking proclivity in mathematics, for instance, and also, so called "imposter syndromes"  that psychologically inhibit people from feeling they are worthy or capable of certain levels of attainment in sciences [2].

   It is a curious observation made by quite a few [ 2, 3, 4 ] that earth sciences have the lowest student diversity rate of all the STEM disciplines (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), despite the fact that nearly all of the preponderant earth science issues concern people of the so called developing nations, who experience and are more lastingly affected by extremes of weather, climate and  by geo-hazards.

   A lot of work is therefore ahead of us in promoting the earth sciences for the younger  generations to take up.  A clear strategy needs to be considered to ensure we are able to urgently address this gap.


EARTH SCIENCE REVIEWS

Introduction to Exploration Geophysics,
Henok T Tewelde [5]


"Geologic factors are affecting planning and designs of most infrastructures in the world. Assessment of groundwater, mining, geothermal, hydrocarbon and delineation of subsurface pollutions, require sufficient knowledge of geological features and the processes involved in their genesis and evolution. In acquiring this knowledge, exploration geophysics, a branch of earth science is an essential tool. It is applicable particularly in the study of applied geology, which focuses on the effect of geological phenomena that affects human life. Extensive geophysical exploration has been carried out over the years in Eritrea for several specific purposes. This book covers the specific purposes and includes geophysics with emphasis given to hydro-geophysics based on the experience of the author. The primary purpose of this book is to provide the reader with a working knowledge of the science, convenient for reference and to inherit competence on this field versus various mathematical strategies. It helps to raise the competence of young geophysicists even during shoestring budget and availability of traditional instruments. This book comprises theories, derivations, deductions and their relationship with the physical insights. The concept of each instrument used in electrical, electromagnetic, magnetic, seismic, gravity and radiometric methods. Case studies from Eritrea such as the application of geophysics in engineering, groundwater and environment are included. Despite the fact that 83.6% of the problems are in the context of African geology its benefit is unlimited. It also gives further benefit with a basis to judge the applicability of the science and the results to the reader’s particular exploration problem. The book is expected to contribute in developing analytical thinking, teamwork skills, professional standard, best practices and ethics."


EARTH SCIENCE EVENTS


3-5 August 2017


WATREX 2017


Venue: International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.


VISION: The foremost conference event on  water processes, waste water treatment and recycling


7-11 October 2017
International Conference on Water Management in Arid and semi Arid lands
Venue: Movenpick Resort, Dead Sea, Jordan
VISION: International conference



20-24 March 2018

Earth Sciences for Society

A joint congress organised by
Arab Geosciences Union, African Association of Women in the Geosciences, African Geoparks Network

Venue: Faculty of Sciences, Chouaib Doukkali University, El Jadida, Morocco

VISION: The "Geodynamics, Geo-education and Geoheritage Research Group" of the Geology Department, Faculty of Sciences, El Jadida (Morocco) in collaboration with the Arabian Geosciences Union (ArabGU), the African Association of Women in Geosciences (AAWG) and the African Geoparks Network (AGN) organize a jointly the 2nd ArabGU International Conference (AIC2), the 9th AAWG Conference (CAAWG9) and the 3rd International Conference on Geoparks in Africa and MiddleEast (ICGAME3). This joint congress is hosted by the Faculty of Sciences, Chouaïb Doukkali University, El Jadida (Morocco).





REFERENCES AND SELECTED READING

  1. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/05/scientists-are-the-key-to-africas-future/
  2. http://eos.org/project-updates/increasing-diversity-in-the-geosciences
  3. Czujko, R., 2004, Painting by the Numbers: The Representation of the Minorities in the Geosciences: Eos, American Geophysical Union.
  4. http://www.niu.edu/2015/12/15/why-the-geosciences-must-become-more-diverse/
  5. Tewelde, H. T., Introduction to Exploration Geophysics, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.

*A report from the World Economic Forum  held in May 2017 is cited. World Economic Forum on Africa 2017, held 3-5 May  in Durban, South Africa.
**Board of the Society of African Earth Scientists: Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu (Chair - Nigeria), Osmin Callis (Secretary - Guyana/Nigeria), Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi (South Africa), Mathada Humphrey (South Africa), Dr Enas Ahmed (Egypt).





Thursday, 23 March 2017

NEWSLETTER #22 - SOCIETY OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS












Volume 5, Issue 4, October - December  2016




CONTENT

  • Chair's Foreword
  • African Earth Science and Sustainable Development in Africa
  • Earth Science Book Review
  • Earth Science Events
  • References and Selected Reading


    Chair's Foreword

    In this issue we consider the subject of Earth Science in Africa in relation to sustainability. But what precisely do we understand by this terminology?

    African sustainability needs to be defined in terms of the capability of Africans of the present to provide for the needs of their future generations in perpetuity. With this in mind we focus on the challenges of African development  against this understanding of the need to engender sustainability.

    Manure in planting pits provide plant nutrients and also help retain water harvested by the pits

    Earth Science and Sustainable Development in Africa

    There are many angles from which to approach the subject of "sustainability" in Africa. However, given the remit of the Society of African Earth Scientists to meet the needs of African peoples in terms of clean water, food and energy provision, and the need to monitor the effects of climatic change, we can in particular, assert that African sustainability must of necessity rely on the most "appropriate" technology. This will be technology that is accessible to those using the technology as well as being affordable and amenable to routine maintenance.

    The most appropriate technologies can also be the most effective. An increasingly powerful example of this is the approach of agro-ecology [1] in African agricultural practice. Most of the technology appropriate for Africa already exists in its wealth of traditional agricultural  practices, which have been shown  in studies dating back more than 20 years[2], to promote higher food yields than modern methods, especially those promoting western style monoculture, which has been shown to be destructive to the soil, stripping it of vital nutrients, and contaminating it with excess fertilizer.  Modern farming methods, particularly those involving genetically modified crops, are also found to be inaccessible and expensive to the ordinary farmer; not to talk of the dangers posed of loss of African food sovereignty.

    Solutions to African sustainability which are african in origin, have more chance of being accepted by indigenous people, who are familiar with these indigenous methods. Many of these methods are being revamped in the light of their newly discovered benefits and are seen to be truly ingenious. Furthermore, we have personalities  in agroecology whose genius has adapted traditional methods to suit modern realities [ I refer to the works of  extraordinary personalities like Aba Hawe in Ethiopia, and  Yacouba Sawadogo in Burkina Faso, whose works are so startling as to attract visitors from the world over to see how they are able to salvage degraded land and turn it into a fertile oasis.][3, 4].

    There needs to be a bold acknowledgement that for Africans to make sustainable progress, there will be a need to focus on our own internal resources, including our indigenous technologies, many of which are ingenious and have much to offer to our future and to the world. I refer in particular to methods in Africa like FMNR (farmer managed regeneration) [5], step terracing, planting pits, stone lines,  the use of termite hills to regenerate the nutrients in the soil, seed storage and exchange,  and groundwater retention and recharging using tree planting as well as modern approaches  such as planting vetiver grass and sometimes bamboo to retain moisture,  and arrest soil erosion and land degradation. There are many, many techniques like this of an indigenous origin which have been proven by persons like Aba Hawe and Sawadogo to be highly effective when used in combination. Assiduous application of agro-ecology would feed africa in a sustainable way [6] not requiring massive capital that would further tie the continent to a growing  burden of debt.

    In respect of energy production there is no doubt that renewables offer the most sustainable solution for Africa's future needs [7]. Africa has a great potential diversity of renewables energy sources: geothermal energy in the East African Rift Valley, wind energy all over, but especially in Southern  Africa, hydro power and solar.  It is envisioned that a combinatory approach, taking advantage of a cluster of renewable energy sources, will move Africa towards energy sufficiency. 

    As an aid to moving this sustainable development of Africa into reality, it is pertinent to consider the concept of the sustainable village [8].  We have an opportunity in the sustainable village idea, to showcase all the elements of african sustainable  living  in a way which is self-sufficient.  A sustainable village, would consist of sufficient farmland for food production, solar and wind energy in addition to hydro-power (if that is appropriate for the location) for electricity,  boreholing and water harvesting systems for clean water provision. Cracking the problem of making a truly sustainable african village model would be like a golden key to sustainable development that could be extended on national and continental levels.

    It does not make economic sense for Africa to opt for expensive foreign technological (including agricultural)  interventions which are not appropriate [that may deny us food sovereignty,  destroy the soil, diminish  the quality and level of our groundwater supplies]; whilst   ignoring the large number  of indigenous technologies and natural resources that Africa has to solve its  food, water and energy problems.


    EARTH SCIENCE REVIEWS

    African Water Atlas,
    United Nations Environment Programme [9]




    A richly informative publication giving indications, on a country by country basis, of African water resources. The reader is treated to an acount of water quantity and water quality, and their distribution geographically across the continent. The book is full of many fascinating key facts. For example, Africa's important aquifers  the Nubian Sandstone and the Lake Chad Sedimentary Basin, are losing water at a greater rate than their rate of recharge. 75% of Africa's population relies on groundwater for clean water supplies, yet groundwater forms only 15% of  Africa's renewable water resources.







    EARTH SCIENCE EVENTS

    13-16 April 2017
    Third Mediterranean Symposium on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
    Venue: Girne (Kyrinia), Cyprus, Turkey
    VISION: After two well recieved previous symposiums, the organising committe is pleased to invite you to the third symposiun on medicinal and aromatic plants.

    3-5 August 2017
    WATREX 2017
    Venue: International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.
    VISION: The foremost conference event on  water processes, waste water treatment and recycling.

    7-11 October 2017
    International Conference on Water Management in Arid and semi Arid lands
    Venue: Movenpick Resort, Dead Sea, Jordan
    VISION: International conference





    References and Selected Reading
    1. Agroecology Taps a Wellspring of Farming Knowledge, SciDev, http://m.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/food-security/opinion/agroecology-taps-a-wellspring-of-farming-knowledge-1.html
    2.  International Fund for Agricultural Development, Soil and Water Conservation in Subsaharan Africa, Rome, 1992.
    3. Ethiopia Rising: Red Terror to Green Revolution, http://www.wffr.nl/index.php/movies/ethiopia-rising-red-terror-to-green-revolution/
    4. The Man Who Stopped the desert,  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/arts-culture/the-man-who-stopped-the-desert-dc-enviro/
    5. Weston, Hong, et al, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration Enhances Rural Livelihoods in Dryland west Africa, Environmental Management (2015) 55,   http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00267-015-0469-1
    6. Ibid.
    7. See SAES Newsletter #18
    8. Millenium Villages,  http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/1799
    9. United Nations Environment Programme, Africa Water Atlas, Nairobi, Kenya, 2010.
    10. Gupta, S.K., Modern Hydrology and Sustainable Water Development, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, 2011.

    *Board of the Society of African Earth Scientists: Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu (Chair - Nigeria), Osmin Callis (Secretary - Guyana/Nigeria), Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi (South Africa), Mathada Humphrey (South Africa), Dr Enas Ahmed (Egypt).




     


     

Thursday, 5 January 2017

NEWSLETTER #21 - SOCIETY OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS

Volume 5, Issue 3, July - September  2016



CONTENT

  • Chair's Foreword
  • SAES Solar Energy Workshop at Annual Kilombo Conference, Peki, Ghana
  • Earth Science Events
  • References and Selected Reading  








Chair's Foreword
 In the current issue, we report on the Society's Solar Photovoltaics (Solar energy) workshop held in Peki, Ghana on Saturday 17th september 2016.


SAES Solar Energy Workshop at Annual Kilombo Conference, Peki, Ghana
The Society of African Earth Scientists was invited by the Director of Kilombo, Explo Nani Kofi,  back in 2014 to the Kilombo Annual conference on Africans and Social justice, also known as Ghana Street Parliament, to run a workshop on renewable energy.  Due to availability of funds for the trip, this plan did not materialise until september 2016, when the chair of SAES travelled to Ghana to deliver the workshop on behalf of SAES.

The  workshop was delivered to about 40 conference participants of the annual " Ghana Street parliament", organised by Kilombo as a grass roots form of participatory democracy engaging concerns of the local community for discussion on a wide range of issues from GMOs, to foreign intervention, to poverty and justice as portrayed in the Holy Bible and also renewable energy (solar). All of this is as a means of enabling the public to be better informed to make demands of their members of parliament and political parties.

This year SAES delivered a workshop on solar energy, showing how straightforward it is for African communities (even in the most remote locations) to empower themselves with the knowledge to extract their energy from the sun, without the need to depend on the government to do this for them.


The workshop  gave the watts of power used by various  household electrical appliances identified by the audience, with the observation that to decide the capacity of the solar panels we will need for the installation, it was first necessary to know how many watts of power will be consumed by the household appliances we plan to be using. So, for instance, a standing fan required 70 watts of power to run; whislt a fridge might require from 400 – 700 watts. A light, provided it is low emission could operate on as little as 4 or 5 watts or 7 watts.



The workshop then proceeded to explain the key components of the solar electrical system
1) Solar panels (to collect the energy from the sun that will recharge the solar batteries)














2)  Deep cycle rechargeable  batteries ( to store the energy collected from the sunlight)





3) The charge controller (to control  and enable monitoring of the charging of the battery  including the prevention of the discharging of the battery)




4) The power inverter (to convert the direct current (DC) battery power to  the alternating current (AC)  required to run household electrical appliances.





A brief coverage was made of the basics of electricity and electrical safety and the various arrangements (parallel and series)  for solar batteries and solar panels. The workshop was culminated with a practical demonstration of a simple 12 volt solar photovoltaic electrical  system installation. Participants were referred to a copy of a very accessible  solar installation guide by Boxwell[1]. A more comprehensive reference  is a volume by Lucque and Hegedus [2] as detailed below.






EARTH SCIENCE EVENTS




1-7 October 2016
8th Conference of the African  Association of Women in the Geosciences
Venue: Sibiu, Romania
VISION: The African Association of Women in Geosciences (AAWG) is supporting the development of Earth Scientists in Africa by providing opportunities for networking and promoting the application of geosciences for sustainable development. To meet these challenges, AAWG is organizing numerous activities in and out of the African continent. Biannual International Conferences are being organized to address various challenges that the African continent is facing and to which Earth Sciences could make a contribution. In order to strengthen the collaboration between our African and non-African members and also to increase the visibility of the Association, the 8th AAWG Conference is being organized for the first time out of the African continent. To meet these objectives, we choose as a title for the 8th conference "Building bridges between Earth Scientists Worldwide: A Way for Promoting Peace and Strengthening Integration". This conference is organized locally by the Geological Society of Romania and is hosted by Astra National Museum Complex, Sibiu.


31 October – 6 November 2016
African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGeo)
Venue: Asmara, Eritrea
VISION: Sixth Africa Rift Geothermal Conference in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other support partners…


2-4 December 2016
International Conference on Improving Sustainability Concept in Developing Countries
Venue: Conrad Cairo Hotel, Cairo, Egypt
VISION: International conference…





References and Selected Reading
  1. Boxwell, M., Solar Electricity Handbook 2013 Edition, Greenstream Publishing, 2013.
  2.  Luque, Antonio & Steven Hegedus, Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering - 2nd Edition, Wiley, 2010.
  3. Gupta, S.K., Modern Hydrology and Sustainable Water Development, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, 2011.
  4. A link on “Groundwater and Rural Water Supply in Africa”http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/people/academic-staff/richard-taylor/research/files/macdonald_etal_2012.pdf
  5. Link to Journal of African Earth Sciences: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-african-earth-sciences/

*Board of the Society of African Earth Scientists: Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu (Chair - Nigeria), Osmin Callis (Secretary - Guyana/Nigeria), Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi (South Africa), Mathada Humphrey (South Africa), Dr Enas Ahmed (Egypt).