Tuesday, 30 April 2013


Volume 2, Issue No. 1, February/ March 2013

  • Chair’s Foreword
  • SAES Annual Review 2012-13
  • A Report on the Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East
    by Salisu Lawal Halliru
  • A Report on the SAES Contribution to Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East
  • Earth Science Book Reviews
  • Earth Science Events
  • References, Selected Reading etc.

Foreword by the Acting Chair of Society of African Earth Scientists, Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu
Welcome to the 7th  bi-monthly newsletter of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES).    In the current issue we review the first year of Society of African Earth Scientists’ existence and include reports on the Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and Middle East organised by Association of African Women in the Geosciences.

Society of African Earth Scientists’ Annual Review of 2012-13

Launch of SAES on 26th April 2012 at the Africa Centre, London  – Our first year in existence as a society began with the launch of Society of African Earth Scientists at the Africa Centre, King Street, London.

   The launch was marked with an inaugural lecture entitled “Earth and Land in African Thought and Practice”, which generated a vigorous debate, as it addressed, not only African traditional ideas and practices on  the earth and land, but also the modern realities of land grabbing , environmental degradation, climate change effects and politics, and last but not least, the envisaged future role of the newly formed SAES. There were strong opinions expressed on the direction that SAES work should take, which resulted in one of the participants from the floor discussion, Sam Montoute,  penning an article on a sustainable development project proposal, which was subsequently published in the SAES newsletter.

   The discussion at the inaugural lecture also raised land grabbing as a key concern and the society eventually made moves to identify bona-fide Africa-led counter land grab movements that SAES would commit itself to supporting. Contacts and affiliations were made with the online initiatives, Stop Africa Land Grab and Stop Land Grabbing. Contact was also made with Oxfam Pan Africa to support their calls on the World Bank to cease its investments in land deals.

Interview on Voice of Africa Radio  – In May Chukwunyere did a radio interview about the role of SAES and earth science, with Sister Ekua on Voice of Africa Radio, as part of a radio discussion titled: Is it time for a new moral code based on the laws of the earth? The discussion also featured the lawyer Polly Higgins. Polly has put forward the proposal to the United Nations that Ecocide is the missing 5th Crime Against Peace, to sit alongside genocide as an international crime...[1].[footnote]

Renewable Energy Technology  – The SAES remit conveniently makes a broad interpretation of the earth sciences to include the subject of renewable energy. In particular, solar has found favour as the most appropriate renewable energy source of the moment.  In this vein, the June 2012 Intersolar Europe Exhibition (Munich), exhibiting the latest developments in the global solar energy industry, offered an opportunity to visit exhibits of prospective technology that might meet the needs of local African communities.   There was an opportunity to see various solar powered water pumps in operation which could be used for borehole water extraction and also to facilitate irrigation.

Affiliations with Other African Science and Technology Organisations - In the course of the year SAES succeeded  in making affiliations with other African science and technology organisations, including Association of African Women in the Geosciences, South African Young Earth Scientists Network, and Solar Sister.

Land Grabbing Paper: “Earth Water and Justice”   -  In September SAES published a paper entitled “Earth Water and Justice” on the environmental effects of land grabbing in Africa. The paper has been permanently posted on the SAES blog and serves as a plea to governments of Africa not to give away the most precious birthrights of African people: our lands and the resources within them. 

Soil and Water Conservation in Africa Workshop  - In November 2012 SAES held a soil and water conservation in Africa workshop. The notes are now posted on the blog page acting as a permanent resource for those wishing to manage their own soil and water conservation projects.

24th Colloquium on African Geology (Geological Society of Africa) 2013  - Although this was incidental (rather than planned by SAES), in January 2013, members of SAES attended the 24th colloquium on African geology in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on which one of the SAES trustees attending, reported for the newsletter.

Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East  - On March 20th 2013, the SAES participated in a Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East.  As part of the day, the SAES hosted an online geodata collection activity involving the measurement of Africa’s coastline and area of landmass, using Google earth.

Ancestor’s Day Lecture, Malika House, Handsworth, Birmingham  - On 31st March 2013, Chukwunyere repeated the lecture “Earth and Land in African Thought and practice” at Malika House Birmingham, as part of Ancestor’s Day celebration for the local African community. In line with the ancestors theme, the lecture paid respect to those who had played a special role in progressing the practice of the earth sciences in Africa through environmental conservation projects and an emphasis on agricultural development, such as Wangari Maathai, Thomas Sankara and Amilcar Cabral.

Overall, it has been a modest year of achievements partly constrained by  limited funds. But successes have included
  • The growth of the society, not based on sheer weight of numbers, but on the quality and skills of those included (earth and natural scientists, mathematicians, builders, surveyors, engineers, IT specialists, legal specialists, interested public, etc.)
  • The establishment of a bi-monthly newsletter
  • The development of a strong and committed board of trustees that will steer the organisation through its formative process.
  • The creation of a permanent on-line archive for SAES newsletters, papers and articles available as an accessible public resource.
  • Publication of workshop notes (e.g., soil and water conservation in Africa) for use as a public resource
  • Publication of a researched paper (“Earth Water and Justice” ) to raise awareness of the environmental effects of land grabbing on African people, soil and water resources; and make a plea to African governments to stop the reckless giveaway of African land and resources to foreign investors.
African Village Scale Development Model 
As noted in the very first newsletter, addressing the lack of clean water for drinking and sanitation is the single most important factor in improving the quality of life for African communities. In the one year since the society was founded, the grassroots upwards approach of development where the focus is on what we can do to develop Africa’s 500,000 or so villages is still envisioned as the correct approach. Ideally, each village should have at least one clean water source (eg.  a borehole). The SAES vision has extended from this. We not only wish to ensure each village has a clean water source, but also the means for generating its own power, on an appropriate scale which is affordable and sustainable. We also wish to create employment within the village in addition to the employment concentrated in urban centres1.  Many of the posts over the year have tried to address these issues.

Emerging Issues
   Certain themes have emerged over the year and pointed the way for the coming year.  Issues have emerged requiring us to address: 1) Medicine and Earth Science – Research articles posted on the facebook page through the year  have revealed the increasingly established link between critical temperature and rainfall levels and the incidence of disease outbreaks such as malaria2. 2) Renewable Energy Installations – e.g., concentrating solar energy. 3)  Individual ingenuity among African youth  and how this is to be supported/ encouraged. 4) Land grabbing in Africa – as already addressed by SAES affiliations and support noted above. 5) Freely available actual or potential earth science applications - Meteosat, Google earth, Earth Now and other potential earth science tools available on the internet.

Future Events

The next board meeting of SAES in July will comprise an annual review of the organisation and a meeting on fundraising possibilities.
   The workshop/events on Photovoltaics and Land grab are still to be scheduled. A brief survey is to ascertain the potential interest in future SAES workshop events.

A Report on the Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East
by Salisu Lawal Halliru

Report on the First “Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and Middle East” 2013
The event was organized in Kano State, Nigeria from 19th_21st, March 2013. The three days event was organized by African Geoparks Network (Nigeria task group - Kano) in collaboration with Center for Education and Leadership Development Kano (CELDEV) on behalf of the Association of African Women in Geosciences (AAWG) and African Geoparks Network (AGN).
   A total of 100 participants comprised of students and teachers from Primary School, Secondary School and student teachers from teacher training Institution (Federal College of Education Kano, Nigeria) were invited to take part in this unique event held at Department of Geography, Federal College of Education Kano.
   The event started with workshop for Primary School and Secondary School teachers dealing with Earth Science Education Initiative. The workshop was prepared in ways that allow the content to be understood by participants. In addition to the workshop, a set of guiding questions were prepared and discussed at the end of the workshop.

Standing Second from left Salisu Lawal Halliru with the participants

   On the 20th March 2013 the day started with lectures organized for women (i.e., female student teachers). After the lectures, a discussion was held on how women can promote Geosciences and Earth Science Education in Nigeria and their expected role.

 Women participants after the lectures. In black shirt (lower picture), Salisu Lawal Halliru

 On 21st March 2013, a lecture was organized for secondary school students to support the young scientists and enlighten them on the initiative to create awareness about Earth Science Education.
   Finally after a lecture, drama and songs organized by the students were performed  by the female students on how to promote Earth Science for Society and the role that Earth Scientists could play to help to build a peaceful, healthier and wealthier Society.
   Participants said that the event has inspired them to become more aware and to seek ways to promote Earth Science Education. They stressed the need to put into practice what they learned. They also  mentioned the need to reach other students and teachers with such vital information and raise awareness on Earth Science Education Initiative in Nigeria.

Participants in front of School of Art’s and Social Sciences

  Head of Geography Department addressing the participants


Female students performing on stage (upper picture) while Principal and members of staff 
(lower picture) are watching with interest. Seated far right, Salisu Lawal Halliru

African Geoparks Network (Nigeria task group), Center for Education and Leadership Development, on behalf of Association of African Women in Geosciences and African Geoparks Network under the leadership of Prof. Ezzoura Errami, would like to thank the Provost of the Federal College of EducationKano – Nigeria, Dr (Mrs) Rabi Jibrilla Muhammad for her support and encouragement, and the Head of the Geography Department and all our participants.

Salisu Lawal Halliru
AAWGN Representative
AGN (Nigeria task group)
Federal College of Education Kano- Nigeria
Department of Geography
P.M.B 3045 Kano State

A Report on the SAES Contribution to Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East

Online Geo-data Collection Activity hosted by Society of African Earth Scientists on 20th March 2013 as part of Day of Earth Sciences in Africa

The Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES) on the 20th March participated in   the Association of African Women in the Geosciences-led, “Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East”. The Society, as a partner in the event, hosted an on-line geodata collection activity involving the measurement of the length of Africa’s coastline and the area of Africa’s landmass.  All participants were invited to post their results on the SAES facebook page on the 20th March or email their results.

Activity Summary
To measure the area and coastline of Africa’s landmass in square km and km respectively, using Google earth software. Google earth software is downloadable free from the Internet. 

The SAES hosted activity 
·         encouraged participants to become  familiar with a potential earth science tool that is freely  available
·         enabled appreciation of the true size of the African continent, until recently unknown.
Detailed Description of the Activity
The Society of African Earth Scientists’ Earth Science Day activity invited us to measure two quantities: the area and the coastline of the African continental landmass. The tool  recommended for this exercise was Google earth. Google earth can be freely downloaded from the internet, and measures distances on the surface of the earth. Google earth allowed participants to measure Africa’s coastline very easily; whilst we needed to work harder to get an estimate of area.  
    Ideally, we could get a very good estimate of Africa’s area by supposing that the shape of Africa is made up of an array of very thin rectangles of equal width, d, (see fig. 1).  The thinner the width, d, the more accurate is the estimate. Theoretically, if the width d is infinitely small, the estimate is exact3.
   In practice, it is very time consuming to measure area by making the width, d, so fine as to require the use of many rectangles to fill up the shape of Africa approximately.
   A quicker method which still gave an acceptable accuracy within 5% was to approximate the shape of the continent as closely as possible using an arrangement of rectangles and triangles to occupy the space inside the outline as closely as we see fit. We then determined the areas of these rectangles and triangles in the usual way (i.e., the area of a triangle is ½ x base x   height; whilst that of a rectangle is width x length), and we summed all the areas to obtain the estimate of the area of Africa’s landmass.

On-line Data Collection - Exemplary Results, 20th March 2013
i)      Measurement of the length of the African coastline.
A measurement using Google earth of 26,226 km was obtained (with an error of 0.87% from the true value of 26,000 km).

ii)     Measurement of area of Africa’s landmass.
The exemplary results of measurements made are shown penned into the map of fig. 2 below. Summing up the areas of all the composite rectangles and triangles shown, gave an area of 29,040,169 km2 (an error of 3.9% from the true value of 30,221,532 km2).

This is an area known to encompass the United States of America, Mexico, China, Japan, India, Iberian Peninsula, and Western Europe including the UK.

Conclusion and Future Activity
SAES are grateful to have been invited to participate in this important initiative and would like to congratulate Association of African Women in the Geosciences on the success of the first Day of Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East.
   To follow up on the activity for this year’s event, SAES envisages that a repeat of the geo-data collection activity - involving pupils from African schools and colleges - will raise awareness of the role of earth sciences in Africa, while at the same time helping to further students’ skills and knowledge in various areas, including geography, IT and mathematics (calculus).

Earth Science Book Reviews

Renewable Energy Systems by Dilwyn Jenkins4
This book focuses on what are assessed to be the most efficient renewable energy technologies and gives the reader a guide to setting up small scale renewable energy applications. These  could potentially be adapted  and scaled up  for use at  a local community level, with the aim of creating small hence affordable and sustainable energy solutions.  Thankfully, the renewable energy options given are well detailed and illustrated so that the reader has real case studies, as well as diagrams, photographs and illustrated examples of installations. There is also a useful section in the volume on how to select the appropriate  renewable energy technology for your needs. The renewable energy technologies included are: wind, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, passive solar, geothermal as well as hydro based energy systems.
This book is useful both for those with a curious interest in the subject and those keen to actually work with renewable technologies.

Earth Science Events
May 3 - 5,  2013
Colloque maghrebin de geophysique appliquee
Venue: Meknes, Morocco
Overview of  latest scientific developments and recent work to help the fight against the loss of environmental resources and ensure environmental sustainability.

July 14-19, 2013
Association of African Women in the Geosciences - Earth Science and Climate Change: Challenges to Development in Africa
Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

The 7th AAWG conference is being organized, taking into consideration the current challenges the continent is facing in

view of the changing climatic conditions, which is threatening the sustainable

development agenda in Africa.

July 25-27, 2013
International Conference on Water, Wastewater and Isotope Hydrology
Venue: Jnanajyothi auditorium, Bangalore, Karnataka state, India.
Bangalore University through its Civil Engineering Departments is organizing three-day International Conference on” Water , Wastewater & Isotope Hydrology” ic-wwish-2013, on 25th – 27th July, to create awareness on issues connected to water, wastewater, health and isotope applications. It is also to encourage the trans-disciplinary research amongst researchers, environmentalists, and agriculturists, NGO representatives from industry, policy makers, sociologists, economists and students to discuss recent developments in the concerned field

September 8 – 12,  2013
Geological Society of South Africa – Geoheritage 2013 Conference
Venue: Klein Karoo, Western Province, SA.
Conference invites papers focusing on various aspects of geoheritage, including Geo-education  in relation to heritage and conservation,  management of geoparks and important gelogical/geomorphological sites. There will be an exhibition of  landscape art. Contributions on the role of landscape art in geoconservation are invited.
Weblink: http://www.gssa.org.za/

October 28-29, 2013
2nd Annual International Conference on Geological & Earth Sciences (GEOS 2013)
Venue: Phuket, Thailand
With the advent of technology and industrialization, the Earth's resources are being pushed to the brink of depletion. Conference looks at the role of earth scientists in maintaining the balance  between the Earth’s limited resources and the demands of industrialisation.
November 24-26,  2013
7th International Conference on Africa Geology
Venue: Assiut, Egypt
A conference to present new advances, and research results in the fields of theoretical, experimental and applied geology of Africa.

References, Selected Reading, etc
1.     This can be achieved when villagers are employed (as they were traditionally) in producing more of what they themselves consume, in growing food and medicinal plants,  conserving the local soil, water and soil fertility, locating and digging wells/boreholes, installing and maintaining their own sources of renewable energy (as in the instance of the barefoot women solar engineers), etc.
2.     E.g., David J. Rogers, Sarah E. Randolph, Robert W. Snow & Simon I. Hay, Satellite Imagery in the Study and Forecast of Malaria, Nature 415, 710-715 (7 February 2002).  Furthermore, the emergence of plant remedies/ protections against malaria from plants which can be cultivated independently and cheaply by African communities has raised the issue of promoting the cultivation of such plants for the benefit of African communities.(http://allafrica.com/stories/201112122400.html. )This has to be seen in the light of the increasing ineffectiveness of standard pharmaceutical products against malaria, in particular.
3.     This is  the principle behind  estimation of geometric areas and other quantities in mathematics by means of the operation known as “integration”
4.     Jenkins, D., Renewable Energy Systems, Routledge (Taylor and Francis Group), 2012.
5.     Gupta, S.K., Modern Hydrology and Sustainable Water Development, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, 2011.
6.     Jordan, et al (eds), Land & Power:  Sustainable agriculture and African Americans - A collection of essays from the 2007 Black environmental thought conference. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), 2007.
7.     A link on “Groundwater and Rural Water Supply in Africa”: http://www.iah.org/downloads/occpub/IAH_ruralwater.pdf
8.     Link to Journal of African Earth Sciences: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-african-earth-sciences/

[1] Ekua Stanford-Xosei, VOA Radio, 2 May 2012.


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