What’s next for RISE?

October 8, 2010

The RISE conference ended at midday today and by now everybody is on their way home. After all the discussions and presentations that have taken place over the past week, one question remains: What is next for the RISE programme?

The answer is, hopefully, more of the same. The RISE networks are nearing the end of their first 2.5 years of funding. It is very likely that its funders will approve another 3-year term to see current students through their degrees and to recruit new students when others graduate. This will be ‘Phase 2’ of the programme, and won’t involve a great expansion of the number of students being trained.

What comes after may be different. Phase 3 is currently envisaged as a move towards a more long-term sustainable funding model, based on partnerships with other sources of support. This will not least include African governments, whose commitment will be vital to taking the programme forward.

But for now it is bye-bye Benoni, and goodbye from us bloggers.

Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist


Finally, some students!

October 6, 2010

Fialho Nehama, water scientist

This morning, we finally got to hear a little about the core business of RISE – the research being carried out by the 90-odd students sponsored by the programme.

First up was Raphael Tshimang from the SSAWRN network, who is modelling the flow of water through the Congo basin. The hydrological systems of the Congo are poorly understood, yet it is crucial to understanding the climate and weather patterns of the entire African continent.

The lack of data means that more detailed surveying of the basin is required before scientists like Tshimanga can make reliable predictions about the environmental and climatic effects of activities like logging and mining in the basin.

We also heard from Fialho Nehama (pictured) from the WIO-RISE network who is modelling the freshwater dispersal where the mighty Zambezi river meets the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. This is important, he told me, to understand how dam activity upstream affect fisheries offshore, as the estuary acts as a nursery for many fish species. No such studies have been carried out previously. “This research would not have been possible if it wasn’t for RISE,” he told me.

Both Tshimanga and Nehama are doing research that is still some way off from being packaged and presented to African ministries as advice for how to manage their water resources. This highlights the need for mechanisms that can continue to support these students beyond their PhDs so they can straighten out some of the question marks that we heard about today.

Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist

Touching base with the RISE networks

October 4, 2010

Countries participating in RISE networks

Capacity building is a buzzword in African science policy circles, but we journalists have a hard time writing about it. A story may appear when a new initiative is launched; another if a promised result fails to materialise. But the slow bricklaying of most capacity-building programmes is difficult to fit into the cut-and-thrust of the news pages.

This week, the SciDev.Net blog will put one of those programmes in the spotlight. The Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) networking programme has been active since 2008, aiming to strengthen graduate training in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The programme is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and administered by the Princeton-based Science Initiative Group at the Institute for Advanced Study in association with the African Academy of Sciences.

I will be blogging from a meeting organised by the RISE programme in Benoni, a suburb of Johannesburg, to showcase its successes. To date, some 90 students from 14 institutions have benefited from the programme. Some of them will be here to speak to me about their experiences.

But the meeting will also bring together policymakers to discuss African governments’ role in supporting graduate training in their countries. I’m looking forward to that discussion, and to asking those in charge of the programme: What’s next for RISE?

RISE on the web

Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist

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