The programme is a Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Use (SASSCAL) project, and aims to develop national and regional capacity in earth observation systems and applications for the management of natural resources. Currently 14 students, of which eight are female, have commenced their studies in this programme with scholarships that have been availed by the German government through SASSCAL. Botswana, Angola, South Africa and Zambia are involved in the project through collaborative programme development, teaching, learning and research.
The Director of Research and Training in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Johanna Andowa, highlighted several areas in her ministry that will be improved as a result of the introduction of this programme. “The capacity to capture, archive, analyse and disseminate remotely observed data and information at regional level is limited. This postgraduate programme is a great contribution to enhancing the management of natural resources in the SADC region,” Andowa said. NUST Vice-Chancellor, Dr Tjama Tjivikua, said challenges such as food security, climate change and humanitarian assistance after natural disasters require holistic approaches that could be addressed through tailor-made educational programmes. He added that such programmes will facilitate the production of graduates who are ready to contribute to informed decision-making, sustainable spatial planning and management of the environment.
One of the students in the first group, Simwanza Liswaniso, expressed his gratitude to the parties involved in the initiative. “It is an honour to be part of this group and we will certainly give our best to ensure that we live up to the expectations that have been placed on us,” he said. Dr Yonah Seleti, the SASSCAL Executive Director, announced the Centre’s future plans to intensify its research efforts and involvement in the programme. The second cohort of students will be hosted at the University of Zambia and the third at the University of Botswana.