The Workshop for Enhancing Collaborative Research on the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa Arlington, Virginia usa 24-26 January 2005


A Workshop for the Validation of TRMM Satellite Estimates of Precipitation

Over Africa

S.E. Nicholson, B. Some and co-authors

Florida State University, AGRHYMET, Meterological Service of Burkina Faso Email:

The overall goal of our TRMM project is to use gauge data from a dense station network over to validate TRMM rainfall estimates, other satellite estimates and blended products. This poster concerns the validation of level 3B-43 data (1o x 1o) on a monthly time scale for the year 1998 for West Africa. These efforts involved a workshop, held at FSU, in which scientists representing the meteorological services of 11 West Africa countries participated. They each brought monthly data for 1998 for all stations available in their countries. At a later time, daily data for 1998 and monthly data for 1999 will be utilized to continue validation efforts. At a later time, validation will extend to the entire continent, with high resolution validation carried out for an area of East Africa and an area of southern Africa.

Some 1026 stations with gauge data were utilized. A comparison was made between the gauge data and the TRMM-adjusted GPI, the GPCP blended data, the infrared-based GPI and the SSM/I microwave estimates. The comparisons consider mean fields, latitudinal transects and scatter plots of monthly rainfall for both 1o x 1o and 2.5o x 2.5o grids. Using the criterion of five gauges per grid for adequate rainfall estimates, 63 1o x 1o and 39 2.5o x 2.5o grid boxes could be utilized. Some of the latter contained over 90 gauges and most contained between 10 and 50 gauges, so that an excellent spatial averaged could be produced.

The mean fields derived from the dense gauge network, the GPCC gauge-only analysis and the GPCP are remarkably similar. The error, with reference to the rainfall field based on the denser network, is about 4% for either GPCC or GPCP. Agreement is relatively good even in individual years. The error associated with these data sets is about 4 % to 9 % and appears to be largely random, as the bias is generally less than .32 mm/day. In contrast, there are large systematic errors in the satellite-only analyses of GPI and SSM/I, on the order of 50 % to 60 % for the rain field as a whole and as large as a factor of two in many locations. This underscores the continued need for extensive gauge networks in order to adequately describe the large-scale precipitation field over Africa.



Andy Nyblade

Dept. of Geosciences, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802 Email:

Paul Dirks

School of Geosciences, The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


AfricaArray is a long-term (20 years) initiative to promote, in the full spirit of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), coupled training and research programs for building andmaintaining a scientific workforce for Africa’s natural resource sector. Africa’s natural resource sector (petroleum, minerals and water, in particular) is a major driving force for economic development. Africa is a primary source of strategic and base metals for the world market. Petroleum production from sub-Saharan African countries alone may provide 25% of U.S. oil imports by 2015. Water resources are needed for supporting sustainable livelihoods throughout the continent and in some countries geothermal reservoirs provide an important energy source. The name “AfricaArray” refers to an array of shared training programs, an array of shared scientific observatories, scientists across the continent working on an array of shared projects and above all, a shared vision that Africa will retain capacity in an array of scientific fields vital to the development of its natural resource sector. Initially, AfricaArray will focus on geophysics to:

  • maintain and develop further geophysical training programs in Africa, in response to industry, government and university needs.

  • promote geophysical research in Africa and establish an Africa-to-Africa research support system.

  • obtain geophysical data, through a network of shared observatories, to effectively study scientific targets of economic and societal interest, as well as fundamental geological processes shaping the African continent.

Geophysics education and research has been selected as the initial focus for AfricaArray because geophysicists are in high demand in the strategically important fields of oil and gas exploration, mineral exploration, geothermal energy development, water resource development and earthquake hazard mitigation (including mine tremors). The discipline of geophysics is a cornerstone of many petroleum and mineral exploration programs. In fact, few oil and mineral discoveries are made without the use of advanced geophysical data sets to identify exploration targets, for example seismic reflection and airborne geophysical surveys. Geophysical exploration methods are also commonly used in prospecting for groundwater and geothermal reservoirs.

As demand increases for African geophysicists, especially in oil producing countries, what little capacity there is in Africa for geophysics training is disappearing fast, even though interest from students is high. Specialized fields like geophysics within African universities are particularly vulnerable in times of financial rationalization and competition for a skilled workforce. A recent survey of select mining and oil companies indicates that as many as 20 new geophysics graduates are needed every year by industry in Africa; additional geophysics graduates are needed in government agencies, particularly to work in water resource development and in academic institutions. There is insufficient capacity within Africa to provide high quality geophysics training for this number of students.


Moving Conservation AHEAD (Animal Health for the Environment and Development): Progress at the Intersection of Program and Policy

Steven A. Osofsky, DVM,Michael D. Kock, BVetMed, MRCVS, MPVM,William Karesh, DVM and

Robert A. Cook, VMD, MPA

Wildlife Health Sciences, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460 USA

David H. M. Cumming, PhD

Tropical Resource Ecology Programme, Dept. Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe

Richard Kock, MA Vet, MB MRCVS

African Union/Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (OAU-IBAR) Pan African Programme for the Control of Epizootics, P.O. Box 30786, Nairobi, Kenya

A highly interactive forum was organized at which invited Southern and East African and other experts shared their vision for conservation and development success at the wildlife / livestock interface with IUCN World Parks Congress attendees and invited representatives from bilateral and multilateral development agencies and other interested parties.African governmental and nongovernmental experts from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated Our goal was tofoster a sharing of ideas among African practitioners and development professionals that will lead toconcrete and creative initiatives that address conservation and development challenges related to health at the livestock/wildlife/human interface. The focus was, appropriately, on ongoing efforts and future needs in and around the region's flagship protected areas and conservancies and their buffer zones- the places where tensions and challenges at the livestock/wildlife interface are often greatest.

Discussions and planning focused on several themes of critical importance to the future of animal agriculture, wildlife and, of course, people: competition over grazing and water resources, disease mitigation, local and global food security, zoonoses and other potential sources of conflict related to the overall challenges of land-use planning and the pervasive reality of resource constraints. We have since been working to develop the most promising collaborative concepts that emerged from this forum into a suite of projects, grounded in real landscapes but cognizant of the critical need for policy reform and based on the solid professional partnerships we believe are emanating from the AHEAD (Animal Health for the Environment And Development)enabling environment.

As we look around the world, impacts from interactions between livestock and wildlife (and habitat) are often profound. The issues at this interface represent an unfortunately all-too-often neglected sector of critical importance to the long-term ecological and sociopolitical security of protected areas and grazing lands worldwide. With its initial focus on Southern and East Africa and its diverse land-use mosaic, we believe the AHEAD initiative can help facilitate collaborative work with and among African partners to continue to bring sound science to bear on natural resource management decisions that directly affect the livelihoods and cultures of Africa’s people, including those decisions that impact the future of Africa’s protected areas and wildlife resources. As socioeconomic progress demands sustained improvements in health for humans, their domestic animals and the environment, we recognize the need to utilize a “one health” perspective- an approach that was the foundation of our discussions at the World Parks Congress and that has guided the follow-on work since.

Since the September 2003 program launch, AHEAD has helped catalyze the development of several innovative regional projects that focus on the health/conservation nexus. In addition, the importance of these issues was formally recognized by the IUCN World Parks Congress when it officially included 'Disease and Protected Area Management' as a key emerging issue in its "Emerging Issues" documentation, /themes/wcpa/wpc2003/english/outputs/durban/eissues.htm, the first time ecosystem health issues have been addressed like this in the Congress' 40 year history.


Ecological Research in Tanzania

Craig Packer

University of Minnesota Email:

Tanzania has a long tradition of wildlife research. Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) established the Serengeti Research Institute in the mid-1960s so that management policies could be based on objective scientific data. Funding for the institute was provided by foundations in Europe and North America. In 1980, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) was established as an autonomous parastatal organization that coordinated research over the entire country. Today, wildlife research is being conducted in most of Tanzania’s national parks and many of its game reserves; the Tanzanian government provides a modest amount of funding, and partnerships with western donors are highly valued.

The most intensive wildlife research in Tanzania is still being conducted in the Serengeti, and the community of Serengeti researchers has recently integrated their separate research programs into the NSF-funded project on the “Biocomplexity of the greater Serengeti – humans in a biologically diverse ecosystem.” The Biocomplexity project aims to investigate the dynamics of coupled natural and human systems through collaborative and multi-disciplinary investigation using mathematical modeling and collated long-term data from the Serengeti Ecosystem. The purpose is to understand how an ecosystem can persist in a matrix of non-biological socio-economic interactions.

Besides heading the Biocomplexity project, I lead two other NSF projects, “Viral transmission dynamics in Serengeti carnivores” and “Long-term studies of African lions.” The most important goals of the Disease Project are to 1) develop realistic multi-host models of disease transmission by measuring contact rates between domestic dogs and wild carnivores (as well as between different wild carnivore species) and 2) determine if domestic dogs serve as the reservoir host for rabies and distemper via a large-scale ring vaccination of domestic dogs around the Serengeti. The lion project provides the most detailed data on any single species in the Serengeti, and it is particularly valuable in terms of the lions’ response to ecological perturbations.


Developing South Africa’s Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)

J. C. Pauw

South African Environmental Observation Network, National Research Foundation, Private Bag X 2600, Pretoria 0001 Email:

The rationale for a SAEON evolved from the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) paradigm that strives to overcome the limitations of normal environmental research which is mostly done in too short time frames on too small areas and focusing on too few variables to provide reliable answers within the context of ecological time and large ecosystems. Our vision is to establish an observation and research network that provides the understanding, based on long-term information, needed to address large-scale environmental issues. We aim to create a framework that permits collection, transmission and interpretation of data on slow variables in distributed network of observatories. The new understanding brought about through SAEON will inform suitable policies and appropriate actions for dealing with the inevitability of environmental change and its consequences for the livelihoods of South Africans. The core research framework of the SAEON is directed at studying the stressors of ecosystems such as climate change, land-use and settlement changes, eutrophication of the biosphere and the responses of ecosystems to these stressors as measured in its biodiversity, productivity and nutrient fluxes. Societal changes with regards to population growth and health, macro-economic vectors, institutional structures and technological advances/assimilation and how these influence ecosystem biodiversity and hydrology will become important new directions in environmental research. The SAEON will inform national programmes and policies directed at securing the competitiveness of the environment and sustainable development. It will enhance the ability to meet the requirements of international conventions (e.g. FCCC). This will also empower the public to participate fully in assessing the consequences of local, regional and national environmental and developmental scenarios as facilitated through the SAEON's education and outreach programmes.


Monitoring and Understanding Long-Term, Large-Scale Environmental Change Across Southern Africa

Johan Pauw

South African Environmental Observation Network, National Research Foundation,

Private Bag X 2600, Pretoria 0001

Joh Henschel

Gogabeb Training and Research Centre, P.O. Box 953, Walvis Bay, Namibia


The Environmental Long-Term Observatories Network of Southern Africa (ELTOSA) is a regional LTER network of country Environmental Observatories Networks (EON) encompassing the natural environments and their socio-economic context. In the global context, Southern Africa represents a unique geographic location. There is a great diversity of habitats and people, including extremes represented in several deserts and rainforests, escarpments and mountains, woodland savannahs and inselbergs, perennial and ephemeral rivers, swamps, lagoons and lakes, warm coral reefs and cold upwelling currents and oceanic islands ranging from tropical to uninhabited subantarctic. The region includes four global biodiversity hotspots and contains many large and famous national parks, game reserves, or other kinds of wilderness areas, harbouring not only fauna and flora, but also entire ecosystems and human settlements. There is a need to monitor the same kinds of habitats and parameters at different sites in order to fully understand the spatial dimensions of ecosystems drivers and response mechanisms, or to replicate observations. While EON monitors spatial shifts in species, vegetation types and productivity, it will be important to relate these to the dominant issues of climate change, water sources, use and needs, as well as land tenure, land transformation and land use. Rural people in Southern Africa depend on natural resources - many are poor and in dire need of improved livelihood security. They are subject to the vagaries of an already harsh environment and the shortage of resources and education that they have to cope with render then even more vulnerable to extreme events caused by climate change. The main challenges facing EON in Southern Africa are of the institutional kind. There is a need to maintain local leadership with regards to foreign funded long-term environmental research programmes.


Dynamics of Poverty and Soil Degradation on Smallholder Farms in Central

and Western Kenya

A.N. Pell, J.M. Kinyangi, S.O. Ngoze, D.R. Brown, C.B. Barrett, L.E. Blume, J.G. Gamara,

C.J. Lehmann, P.P. Marenya, H.A. Markewich and A.O. S.J. Riha

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Email:

D.M. Mbugua

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute, Nairobi, Keny;, World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya


Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

L.V. Verchot and J. Wangila

World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

Small changes in the natural resource base may have important consequences for poor smallholder farmers in the highlands of central and western Kenya. Likewise, modest changes in human activities may alter ecosystem functioning in these frequently degraded environments. Our project’s goal is to capture the dialog between farmers and their environment in order to measure, understand and model the interlinked biophysical and socioeconomic processes characteristic of small crop-livestock farms in Kenya. We have collected data from 239 farms in two sites in central and western Kenya on soil chemistry and biology, crop and livestock production, socioeconomic conditions, land use and on-farm and off-farm labor allocation and investment patterns. To determine the effects of cultivation on soil fertility, soil samples have been collected from a chronosequence in an area where plots have been cultivated from 1 to more than 100 years. Total soil carbon and the aggregate light and free light fractions of soil organic matter decrease with time of cultivation while the organo-mineral fraction increases. Considerable effort has been expended to link social and biophysical aspects of the agro-ecosystem in a dynamic model in order to explore the relationships between farmers’ perceptions of their options and biophysical and economic processes. Our prototype bioeconomic model includes modules for soil fertility and herd dynamics, cash resources and labor flows as well as crop and livestock production and the use of livestock manure as a soil amendment, reproducing the typical dynamics of the human and natural resource system. This simple model demonstrates the fertility and income dynamics common in the study area, where even minimal soil nutrient amendments (such as might be obtained by intercropping beans with maize and leaving residues on the field to be grazed by small animals during the dry season) can generate persistent gains in soil health and farmer well-being.


Sources and Impacts of Atmospheric Aerosols over Southern Africa

S. J. Piketh, L. B. Otter and K. E. Ross

Climatology Research Group, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg South Africa


The International Panel of Climate change report highlighted the effects that climate change will have on developing countries, especially Africa (IPCC, 2001). Although significant advances have been made in understanding human induced climatic changes, many scientific questions remain unanswered. At the forefront of these issues presently, is the role that aerosols play in the climate radiation balance (IPCC, 2001). Atmospheric transports from major source regions, such as the industrialized South African Highveld, distribute aerosols across the region enhancing the spatial range of their climatic effects which are known to be significant at a regional scale.

The Climatology Research Group’s main research thrust is understanding the sources and impacts of atmospheric aerosols over the southern African subcontinent. Sources of aerosols include industrial emissions, biomass burning (natural and domestic), aeolian dust, biogenic and emissions from the adjacent oceans. The group has several research projects that involve measuring or calculating emissions of aerosols or their gaseous precursors. An attempt has also been made to evaluate the impacts of atmospheric aerosols on the radiation budget, cloud microphysical processes and the natural systems to which aerosols are deposited from the atmosphere. Research project titles over the past five years include the following:

  1. Quantifying the emissions of gaseous aerosol precursors (isoprene and monoterpenes) from the biosphere.

  2. Quantifying the emissions from domestic biomass burning in eleven countries in southern Africa.

  3. Evaluating the impacts pf industrial emissions on cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and cloud microphysical processes.

  4. Estimating the impact of the deposition atmospheric aerosols to terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

This poster will present interesting components of the research activities of the Climatology Research Group.


Landscape Interactions Between Pastoral People and Wildlife in East Africa: Competition, Synergies or Both?

Robin S.F. Reid, Mohammed Y. Said, Joseph Ogutu, Shem Kifugo, Andrew Muchiruand

Sandra van Dijk

International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya, Email: r.reid@

N. Thompson Hobbs, Jeff Worden and Shauna Burnsilver

NREL, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Helen Gichohi

African Wildlife Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya

Our global objectives are to better understand the causes, processes and consequences of change in land use in pastoral ecosystems and what these mean for the future of these ecosystems and peoples1. Our NSF-funded research questions in East Africa are as follows: 1) What are the patterns and processes of fragmentation in pastoral lands across a range of different environmental, political and economic systems? 2) What are the effects of landscape fragmentation on herbivores, ecosystems, enterprises and people? 3) More specifically, how does settlement by pastoralists modify the responses of wild herbivores to heterogeneity in grassland landscapes? Why do these influences occur? Do interspecific interactions, notably competition, facilitation, or predation, explain the effect of people on wildlife? We work principally in five ecosystems in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya: Longido, Tarangire/Simanjiro, Amboseli, Kitengela and Mara/Serengeti. We use household surveys, in-depth family interviews, livestock herd following, remote sensing analysis (air photos, Landsat TM, Modis), wildlife counts and vegetation surveys to quantify these interactions. We find three principal processes of social change that cause fragmentation in these systems: sedentarisation, intensification and diversification. In Kenya, land privatization is also strongly altering where people live, how they use the land and how they interact with wildlife. Pastoral and non-pastoral people settle first in the wetter pastoral lands and around key resources like swamps and riverine areas and reduce the spatial extent of their herding practices. At the regional scale, these social and other changes are causing strong declines in wildlife populations in much of the pastoral lands of Kenya and probably parts of northern Tanzania; but there may also be some positive interactions at the local level. In the Mara ecosystem of Kenya, our preliminary results suggest potential synergies between people and wildlife, as some species of wildlife preferentially cluster neither near nor far from pastoral settlements. We suggest that there are a suite of local-scale processes, including harassment, competition and/or facilitation of forage nutrient flows, protection from predators, that both repel and attract wildlife to pastoral settlements. We are attempting to develop robust models, at several scales, that explain why and how pastoral people and wildlife interact and use these models to suggest ways to better manage these integrated ecosystems into the future.


Global Positioning System (GPS) Constraints on Arabia-Africa-Eurasia Plate Interactions and Inter-plate Deformations: Developing a Physical Basis for Earthquake Hazard Assessment

Robert Reilinger, Simon McClusky and Philippe Vernant

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02142 USA Email:

Woladai Ghebreab and Biniam Haileab

Department of Earth Sciences, University of Asmara, Asmara, Eritrea.

Greater Mediterranean GPS Consortium

We present the most recent results of an international program to use the GPS to map motions of the Earth’s surface throughout the zone of interaction of the African, Arabian and Eurasian plates. Most of the GPS data for SSA comes from a global network of continuously recording GPS stations operated by independent institutions and archived with the International GPS Service ( Our Consortium has focused on the major plate boundaries, including the complex deformation occurring in the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone (eastern Turkey, Zagros Fold and Thrust belt and Caucasus), the Africa-Eurasia interactions in the Mediterranean region (Atlas Mountain system, Calabrian, Hellenic and Cyprus arcs), the Arabia-Africa plate boundary (Dead Sea fault, Sinai block and Red Sea rift). GPS provides quantitative information on the rates and styles of deformation thereby providing new constraints on dynamic models for plate motions and interactions. This information in turn provides an improved physical basis for evaluating earthquake and volcanic hazards in the region.


Determinants of Woody Cover in African Savannas: Is Tree-Grass Coexistence Disturbance Dependant?

Mahesh Sankaran, Niall Hananand Jayashree Ratnam

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, Email:

Robert Scholes

CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa

Despite decades of research, the origin, nature and dynamics of savannas are not fully understood. In particular, mechanisms permitting trees and grasses to coexist and factors determining the relative proportions of each life-form across different savanna types are complex. Resource availability (water, nutrients), fire and herbivory are all thought to exert important regulatory influences on savanna structure, but perceptions differ on which mechanisms are most important under which conditions. In part, the lack of consensus arises because most studies have been small-scale and site specific: it is likely that different processes are active to different degrees in different savannas of the world. Here, we report results from a continental scale analysis of structure in African savannas (~850 sites) aimed at investigating the relative importance of and interactions between, the different factors across broad environmental gradients. Our results suggest that savannas switch from being water-limited 'stable' systems to disturbance-mediated 'unstable' systems across a gradient of increasing rainfall. Between 200 mm and 650 mm mean annual precipitation (MAP), water availability limits tree cover and permits grasses to persist in the system. In this range of rainfall, fire and grazing, although capable of modifying tree-grass ratios, are not necessary for tree-grass coexistence. Thus arid and semiarid African savannas (<650 mm MAP) can be considered stable systems where fire and herbivory, though of great importance in determining actual woody cover and density, are not essential for tree-grass coexistence. Above 650 mm MAP, water availability appears sufficient to support tree canopy closure such that grasses can be out-competed. Savanna systems in this range of rainfall are unstable systems where disturbances such as fire, grazing and browsing are required for tree-grass co-existence.


Biogeochemistry of Semiarid Savannas and Plantation Forests in

Southern Africa

Mary. C. Scholes

School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, Private Bag 3, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Email:

Ecosystem evolution in Africa has been determined by a complex set of changing interactions between herbivores, fire, man, climate and soils. Water availability determines ecosystem function by controlling the duration of the period for which processes such as primary production and nutrient mineralization can occur. The difference between ecosystem function under the same climate is largely determined by the presence of herbivores and other forms of land use and management practices. Two ecosystems in South Africa, savannas and plantation forestry, form the focus of this research programme. The research group consists of postdocs, MSc and PhD students. The studies focus on the biogeochemistry of the systems with emphasis on nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus.

Savannas: The Kruger National Park is a large wildlife conservation area, with stratified rainfall and soil nutrient patterns. The western half consists mainly of low nutrient, granite-based soils with higher nutrient, basaltic soils in the east and rainfall decreasing from south to north. Spatial heterogeneity of the fertile and infertile areas influences the size of the elemental pools and the transfer of elements between the terrestrial and atmospheric components. Within these stratifications, foraging patches were compared by determining the percentage tuft utilization and number of faecal deposits at the extremes of a utilization gradient. Sodic sites and termite mounds are preferred foraging areas, with high site productivity contributing substantially to the nutritional status of the herbivores. Enhanced moisture status of the sodic sites leads to nitrous oxide emissions, with nitric oxide emissions dominating the drier upland site. Understanding the factors that determine herbivore distribution will provide insights into how ecosystems have co-evolved with large herbivores and thereby improve our abilities to manage these systems.

Plantations: Southern Africa is covered by less than 1% of indigenous forests but the demand for wood and wood products is high. Extensive areas of high altitude grasslands have been planted with Eucalyptus and Pinus species since the 1960s. The forestry industry needs to grow timber in a sustainable manner at a competitive price; it also needs to comply with many national and international regulations linked to sustainable development. Some of the major findings include: nitrogen deposition is high, up to 40kgN ha-1 yr-1 : there is no conclusive data to support yield decline with rotation: soil total carbon and light fraction carbon levels are being used as indicators of sustainability: the development of an index for nitrogen mineralization has proved to be useful for inclusion as a predicative indicator of yield.


Climate Research over the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA)

Fredrick Semazzi, Richard Anyah, Jared Bowden and Robert Mera

North Carolina State University, Climate Modeling Research Laboratory

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