RECENTLY, Vice-President Dr Mohammed Bilal called for concerted efforts in addressing natural disasters resulting from environmental challenges which cause untold misery to the people. Dr Bilal said this in Dar es Salaam when he launched the Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial
Chair on Environment and Climate Changes as part of the University of Dar es Salaam's 50th anniversary celebrations.
He said the idea for establishing the chair had come at the right time when the world was confronted with various forms of environmental challenges such as pollution, land degradation and climate changes. At the Centre of attraction was the first holder of the chair,
Pius Yanda, a Professor in Physical Geography at the Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar Es Salaam. According to his resume, he has served the University of Dar Es Salaam at different academic positions for 24 years.
Since 2006, he has been serving as the Director of the Institute of Resource Assessment. Professor Yanda is also currently the Regional Director of Pan African START Secretariat
(PASS). START is an International Organization responsible for Global Change Research, Pan African START Secretariat. PASS coordinates all START activities within Africa and it is a component of the Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training with overall
responsibilities of promoting and coordinating global research, capacity building and networking in Africa.
He has also worked extensively in environmental and climate change related studies in the region as well as in Tanzania. Between 2005 and 2007, he was one of the international experts
in the panel that made a scientific review of the state of climate change in the globe. He is one of the Lead Authors for Chapter 9 (Africa Chapter) of the Working Group II of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Professor Nyanda has published extensively in international
journals and books/book chapters in the field of environment and climate change.
Various papers presented highlighted that the Chair's introduction is relevant especially at a time when climate change issues are sparingly treated in the various curricular, not coordinated and there is no specific degree programme on climate change. It is under this chair UDSM proposes to develop a comprehensive programme on research, teaching and outreach services that will enhance ability to generate learning and scholarship that informs actions by civil society organizations, the private sector, governmental institutions and policy makers on climate change.
Capacity building will be a central element of this programme. The activities will promote
undergraduate and postgraduate education, trans-disciplinary research and informed approaches to teaching about climate change within existing degree programmes. Introducing a climate change training programme will have a multiplier effect in other universities in the country and the region. The programme is funded by Open Society Institute (OSI). The main objective is to build capacity of UDSM to deal with climate change issues in Tanzania and the region.
The specific objectives are: To establish a Climate Change Research, Education and Outreach Centre, Others are to establish centrally coordinated climate change research, education and
outreach programmes that both strengthen capacity within the university and build capacity
among policy and practitioner communities to effectively respond to climate change risks.
These include developing interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary climate change curricula
and facilitate integration of climate change in the existing curricula.
To develop outreach programmes that engages communities and stakeholders together with the research community. Expected programme outputs and outcomes. It will subsequently produce outputs as UDSM climate change research, education and outreach centre integrated curricula on climate change issues. Climate change programmes for undergraduate and graduate students training materials for short term courses and workshops, monthly seminars and annual intellectual lecture series.
Multi-stakeholder dialogues on climate change that includes supporting outputs of policy briefs and other science-policy communication materials, Database centre on climate issues Programme Outcomes for part of the strategic objectives of the chair on environment initiative.
The UDSM strengthens its leadership role as in addressing climate change issues in Tanzania and in the region. The capacity of faculty to teach, conduct research and consultancy in climate change issues is enhanced and up-scaled. Availability and accessibility of climate change data and information will also be enhanced. There will be increased number of trained personnel on climate change issues, networking at global, regional and national levels.
Other objectives include; formulation of relevant policies and programmes addressing climate change issues in Tanzania, ability to participate effectively in debates and negotiations on climate change issues and communities adapting to climate change impacts through various options. Professor Yanda's academic history dates back to 1983-1986 when he received his BSc (Geology) at the University of Dar-es- Salaam.
In 1987-1989 he got an MSc in Natural Resources Management at Agricultural University of Norway and in 1991-1995 he got PhD in Physical Geography from Stockholm University in Sweden.
His working experience dates to 1986-1988 as a Tutorial Assistant (Research), University of Dar es Salaam, 1988-1991(Assistant Research Fellow, University of Dar es Salaam), 1991- 1997 (Research Fellow, University of Dar es Salaam), 1997- 2001 (Senior Research Fellow UDSM), 2001 - 2007(Associate Research Professor) and from July 2007 -to date: (Full Research Professor), July 2006 - todate (Director - Institute of Resource Assessment) and June 2005 - todate (Regional Director - Pan African START Secretariat).
With a number of books to his name, his publications include Journal Articles in publications
across the world on environment and climate change-related subjects. While launching the chair headed by Prof Yanda, the VP said: "These challenges require collective efforts in information generation, information sharing, policy formation and interventions at different levels. It is such a chair that can provide a platform to coordinate such activities.
"We may console ourselves today that the threat of nuclear destruction has receded, but we
cannot be sure that we are not on the path to self-extinction via environmental mismanagement."
He noted that there was need to remember from history that about 60 million years ago the mighty dinosaurs suffered a sudden mass extinction, along with 70 per cent of all organisms on earth due to drastic environment changes. Dr Bilal said research priorities had to be identified which would help ensure sufficient climate change adaptation and mitigations with the aim of achieving sustainable livelihoods of Africa's communities and the world as a whole.