WASCAL FUTMINNA: SETTING THE PACE FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW

By Ugboaja, Stanley Uzoamaka

The West Africa Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), on Climate Change and Human Habitat, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria is one of the host centres in West Africa sub-region tasked with the mandate of proffering solutions to climate change and environmental-related problems.

The Centre came into existence in 2012 as West Africa Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) to run a Master’s Research Programme in Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (CC & ALU) based on the sponsorship from Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Germany.

The Centre is one of 12 such similar Centres in West Africa, with focus on research in diverse thematic foci of climate change, land use, human settlements, etc.

The Centre’s vision is to become the leading postgraduate degree programme for educating vibrant young scientists and conducting cross-disciplinary, multi-sectoral and innovative research on climate change, to bridge the knowledge gap on land use changes, climate stress and possible feedbacks, while the Centre’s mission is to produce graduates equipped with the highest quality education and training in the use of innovative research methodologies and application of state-of-the-art-digital technologies and modeling tools for assessing climate change impacts with the view to deriving useable climate change scenarios which will guide policy formulation across the West African region.

Within eight years of its existence, the Centre has redefined the concept of postgraduate programme in the country and the continent at large, based on the quality of its graduates and research output.

WASCAL CC & HH, FUTMinna is equipped with world class teaching facilities with competent and dedicated staff.

The Centre’s International as well as FUT Minna Advisory and Academic Board has erudite scholars with vast experience as members across various departments and faculties in Germany, Africa and Nigeria. The Centre graduated its first set of Master’s degree students in 2014. These crop of students have either proceeded for PhD or are already global players in proffering solutions to climate change and other related issues.

Indeed, the students that have passed through this highly focused Centre in Africa are a special breed, having been equipped with rigorous training and ethics of writing journal papers.

Also germane to note is the fact that the Centre has gained a reputation based on the numerous quality research conducted and published by its students and the faculty mentors/supervisors, geared towards providing solutions to the challenges posed by climate change and other environmental problems.

Based on the outstanding performance of its Master’s Degree students in the last eight years, the Centre was requested to upgrade to run a Ph.D. degree programme in climate change and Human Habitat, approved by the sponsors and the University Senate.

The Centre’s first set of Ph.D. students were admitted in December, 2019. The eleven students were from 7 different West African countries.

The students were also received on arrival in FUT Minna by the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, fsssn.

The WASCAL programme has also assisted the Federal University of Technology, Minna in its quest for internationalization of its programmes as the bulk of the students for the WASCAL programme are from the West African sub-region, thereby giving FUT Minna an international outlook among comity of universities in Nigeria.

It is imperative to note that funding for student’s research work has never been a problem under the WASCAL programme.

The Centre has a proven track record of quality research output; resulting to excellent publications in reputable journals from some of its Master Degree students; and the mechanism for students’ research thesis supervision is very rigorous as it aims at competing with the very best across the continent.

The Centre has also been involved in other research activities at the International level, based on its impressive commitment towards raising the ante in the conduct of novel research.

In addition, the Centre enjoys notable research collaborations with world class institutions in Africa and Germany, University of Wurzburg; Martin Luther University in Halle).

The sustainability of the WASCAL programme is key. To this end, the Director of the Centre, Prof. Okhimamhe, Appollonia A. is already working with her partners in WASCAL Network of Universities and at the Head Office to ensure sustainability of the Centre.

The WASCAL CC & HH has once again shown the massive research and society- improving capacity by ensuring that its current crop of PhD students will provide empirical-backed solutions to some of the most critical environmental challenges in the world. The years of consistently impeccable standards it has maintained is a further testimony to this fact, a development that also justifies the imperatives of a sustainable future for the programme.

 

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