In Africa, the capacity to study and manage freshwater ecosystems is limited and often under funded. Most governments do not fully appreciate the need for quality research on sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems. Much of the research is fisheries oriented, ignoring other key components of freshwater systems such as macroinvertebrates, diatoms, microbial and macrophyte communities which are of such fundamental importance to our freshwater ecosystem processes and functioning. There are only a few initiatives that are scattered and uncoordinated across the continent. As a result, these initiatives are isolated and end up being inefficient in guiding the use of freshwater resources. Also, it is possible that, due to the lack of coordination, the little existing capacity and expertise are not connected, which could lead to their ineffectiveness at a continental scale. The SFS Africa chapter will address these issues by serving as an active platform of freshwater researchers, educators and practitioners. This chapter will be a network that facilitates resources sharing, capacity building, as well as collaboration and networking between members on the continent and beyond.
The goals of SFS Africa chapter will be:
- To identify organizations already operating in Africa and build mutual liaison between them in order to push for an integrated and holistic approach to management of freshwater ecosystems in Africa. Already existing organizations are Southern Africa the Southern African Society for Aquatic Scientists (SASAqS), African Freshwater Entomology Workshops (AFRESH) and Freshwater Biology Association.
- To promote research and conservation of freshwater ecosystems in Africa
- To enhance the engagement of African freshwater scientists and practitioners in the global SFS
- To support the collaboration between SFS Africa chapter and other SFS chapters
Specific objectives of SFS Africa chapter are divided into three categories: short-term, middle term and long-term, as follows:
- To strengthen collaboration between North American and African scientists
- To encourage participation of African freshwater scientists in the SFS activities
- To facilitate the exchange of ideas, researchers, students, staff, equipment and other resources.
- To support professional and capacity development such as taxonomy, techniques for data collection, analysis and reporting
- To improve collaboration between existing African freshwater research and professional bodies
- To improve skills in proposal writing, research design, data analysis, and publishing results.
- To mobilize resources and develop joint grant proposal e.g. PEER NSF-USAID, USA NSF etc
- To set up a platform as a soft-landing spot for African freshwater scientists
- To serve as a continental consortium or hub of freshwater scientists and practitioners
- To support curriculum development by working with higher learning institutions, policymakers and practitioner organizations to identify the most needed skills and develop their curriculum.
- To strengthen linkages between freshwater science and policy, and influence policies on the continent.
- To inform policies and governance for sustainable management of freshwater resources at country, regional and continent levels. This includes the adoption and implementation of biomonitoring frameworks to support restoration and conservation of wetlands in Africa.
- To come