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), Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi (South Africa), Mathada Humphrey (South Africa), Dr Enas Ahmed (Egypt).





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