Glasgow to help train Africa’s next generation of scientists

Published: 18 March 2015

The University of Glasgow has secured £334,000 of funding to help train the next generation of African scientists.

The University of Glasgow has secured £334,000 of funding to help train the next generation of African scientists.

The University is part of the ‘Program for Enhancing the Health and Productivity of Livestock’ (PEHPL) collaboration being led by the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science & Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania.

The PEHPL is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The program will help train 16 PhD students for four years, eight of whom will be registered at NM-AIST and two each at Glasgow, Washington State, Penn State universities and the Scottish Rural College. The program is aiming for a 50% target for female recruits.

As an established partner of Glasgow, NM-AIST is an emerging centre of excellence geared towards developing new and relevant innovations for development in Africa.  Among their research priorities is the improvement of health and productivity of livestock which is critical for the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tanzania hosts one of the largest livestock populations in Africa as well as a rich and diverse natural heritage, and world-renowned ecosystems, such as the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Maasai steppe. These sites are important environments for studying diseases that can spread between livestock, wildlife and people.

Professor Dan Haydon, Director of the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, who together with Professor Sarah Cleaveland is leading Glasgow’s involvement, said: “This is an innovative new program funded by the Gates Foundation which will support a cohort of well-supported students at the Nelson Mandela Institute through combining the complementary strengths of their faculty with those of their international partners.  It comes at a good time when we have just launched four other grants through the RCUK/DfID Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems initiative, and a Royal Society-Leverhulme Africa Award related to livestock health and zoonotic disease, all in partnership with the Mandela Institute.”

Scientists and students will work with livestock farmers in east Africa to enhance the nutrition and health of people through improving the health and productivity of their livestock.

Prof Haydon added:  “The program focuses on enhancing the productivity and health of smallholder farmers’ livestock by reducing their exposure to disease and improving their nutrition, genetic potential, and market value, while safeguarding animal welfare, public health and the environment.

 “The proposed program will also strive to address gender gaps and inequalities by ensuring equal representation of women in the program and recognizing their pivotal role in farming activities, with the need to increase their control over inputs as well outputs when it comes to decision making.”

First published: 18 March 2015