Enhancing climate hazard resilience and disease prevention in Africa
Experts from the University of Exeter have worked on pioneering project to design digital innovations; helping communities across Africa become more resilient to climate hazards and prevent outbreaks of associated diseases.
A team of experts from Exeter’s The Centre for Water Systems (CWS) and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) led the ground-breaking new project, called OVERCOME (digital innOVation in climatE hazaRd early warning and related disease prevention for COMmunity capacity building and rEsilience).
The project, a transnational research network, was awarded funding of £134,894 from the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Digital Innovation for Development in Africa (DIDA) fund in 2020.
The OVERCOME team collaborated with other interdisciplinary researchers to create a framework of new technological methodologies and applications, which can support strategic planning and decision making to enhance societal resilience to climatic hazards.
In 2021, OVERCOME engaged with stakeholders in natural environment, health care, environment-economic, urban planning, utility services, disaster management, policy making and local communities to co-shape the research questions and targeted outcomes for future studies.
Dr Albert Chen, a Senior Lecturer at CWS, coordinated the OVERCOME project, supported by Dr Kath Maguire, Prof Karyn Morrissey and Prof Slobodan Djordjevic.
Dr Chen said: “OVERCOME has strengthened the capacity of vulnerable communities in minimising the negative impact of climate disasters and associated health risks, which will improve country progress in addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
Prof Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, the Associate Dean for International Development, said: “This excellent opportunity has enabled us to work with key intuitions in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. OVERCOME has enhanced the University of Exeter’s links with Global South countries in developing novel solutions for smart communities to safeguard public safety and health during climate disasters.”
Prof Karyn Morrissey, Associate Professor for Population Health at the ECEHH and an Alan Turing Fellow, said: ‘Digital solutions are increasingly offering low cost, accessible solutions to the health- environment-climate nexus. Thinking about digital technology with communities, has offered real scope to build community-based resilience for future generations.”.
Dr Kath Maguire, National Institute for Health Research Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellow agreed, adding: “It is important for academics and communities to work together in designing systems that can be implemented in practice.”
The OVERCOME team consists of world-leading scientists from University of Exeter, University College of London, University of West London , Public Health England, and Aquobex Technologies in the UK; the University of Malawi, The Polytechnic in Malawi, the National Institute of Meteorology in Mozambique, the Chinhoyi University of Technology; University of Zimbabwe, and University of Ghana.
An international multiplinary panel including experts from Columbia University, Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services Malawi, ECMWF, Eurecat Technology Centre, FIWARE Foundation, Krüger A/S, Ministry of Agriculture Malawi, Ministry of Health Malawi, Ministry of Health Malawi, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Norwegian Meteorological Institute were invited to share their knowledge and assist the OVERCOME team to co-design the research roadmap.
A virtual meeting between the OVERCOME team and the expert panel was held in 2020, where over 30 participants from 10 counties participated in the discussion for identifying key challenges, research gaps and collaboration opportunities for the future.
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For more information on OVERCOME, please contact Prof. Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova on K.Tsaneva-Atanasova@exeter.ac.uk
To find out more about research into climate security at the University of Exeter, click here.