Lancaster University leads a ground-breaking project working with African researchers and entrepreneurs to address the urgent need for safe, sustainable water use in Africa
The £6.8M project, part of the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, aims to build capacity within Africa to carry out and translate high quality research into the new products, processes and services needed to solve the continent’s water crisis.
‘RECIRCULATE: Driving eco-innovation in Africa: capacity-building for a safe circular water economy’, will facilitate leading African research and training institutions to work with local businesses, communities and policy makers across a continent where half the population - 800 million people - live without adequate water.
“The project team, working across disciplines and partner institutions, will share experience and best practice, especially in using research to solve real-world problems,” said RECIRCULATE’S director, Professor Nigel Paul, of the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.
“Local communities with first-hand experience of water problems will take a central role in the partnership by framing the key questions which need to be addressed by the research teams.”
RECIRCULATE will focus on ‘joining up’ the different ways in which water supports communities, from sewage disposal to energy generation and water used in food production - 96 percent of African agriculture is dependent on rainfall.
It will draw on expertise from a wide range of disciplines to deliver its goals, including management, social sciences, environmental science, crop science, engineering and microbiology.
It will also build on Lancaster University’s record of building strong links with the wider community and the business sector.
“Through the Lancaster University Management School and our award-winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation we have extensive experience of the benefits of building strong links between international quality research and businesses, and other partners, who are best-placed to deliver real-world solutions and drive growth,” said Nigel.
“We are confident that this is a model that will yield rapid, meaningful developments in Africa.”
Phase 1 partners include the University of Benin in Nigeria, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Ghana, and LU Ghana, Lancaster’s campus in West Africa.
Kirk Semple, Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the Lancaster Environment Centre, said:
“RECIRCULATE allows us to really grow relationships with partners in West Africa that we have been developing together over a number of years.”
“Building on these strong existing relationships, RECIRCULATE will then expand to include four more ‘phase 2’ partners, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, National Commission for Science and Technology in Malawi, Copperbelt University in Zambia and African Technology Policy Network in Kenya.
“We are excited to be able to grow this network of forward-looking organisations across Africa”
Dr Akanimo Odon, project partner and Principal Consultant at Envirofly Consulting, Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana said: “The continent faces huge challenges around water, food, health and energy. RECIRCULATE provides a basis to start to deal with these challenges sustainably.”
Roger Pickup, Professor of Biomedical and Life Sciences at Lancaster University said: “RECIRCULATE is an exciting and unique opportunity to address serious issues around water, food, health and energy that have been defined by our West African partners.”
Nigel Lockett, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Lancaster University Management School said: “Our goals are clear - to grow capacity and capability in Africa's eco-innovation community. We are in no doubt that co-creating sustainable and scalable solutions together will be hard but the rewards of success to the people of Africa will be huge.”
RECIRCULATE is one of a number high profile projects announced in July as part of the £1.5 billion Global Challenge Research Fund designed to stimulate research on the challenges faced by developing countries.
Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding today highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.
“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.”