A project, led by the University of Southampton has been awarded £5,000,000 over four years to invest in projects to secure food and water security for the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
In one of the most ambitious international research programmes ever, the money is being supplied by Research Councils UK (RCUK). So far £225m has been invested across 37 projects to combat a number of critical issues around the world including; health, humanitarian crises, conflict, the environment, the economy, domestic violence, society, and technology.
The University will be focusing on ‘Building research capacity for sustainable water and food security in drylands of sub-Saharan Africa’. In practical terms this means that scientists from Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi will connect with each other and researchers from the UK to get the ball rolling on a number of water and food projects that will benefit the region.
Justin Sheffield, professor of Geography and Environment highlights the need for investment:
“Subsistence farmers across Africa rely on rainwater for their crops, so it is vital not only for drinking and food production, but also as a crucial part of the economy. As a fragile and precious resource, we want to collaborate with institutes in the region to help ensure its future supply.”
Dean of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences at Southampton, Professor Jane Falkingham, also expressed her optimism at the impact that this project has:
“Today, over 600 million lack access to safe water; almost half of people drinking water from unprotected sources live in sub-Saharan Africa. This project has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of some of the poorest people on our planet, directly contributing to the University’s mission of changing the world for the better.”
The Global Challenges Research Fund was set up with the aim of building upon the vast research knowledge in the UK to help projects overseas which will enable them to address the needs and challenges faced by developing nations. This project led by the University of Southampton is a prime example of that and has the potential to have widespread benefits throughout the region.