IITA-Congo Basin- New research institute to find solutions to food, water, and climate change challenges
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are developing a new research facility, The Congo Basin Institute (CBI). It was launched during a signing ceremony on 20 June, in Yaoundé in the presence of H.E. Essimi Menye Lazare, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Republic of Cameroon, who expressed the support of the Cameroon Government for this initiative. The ceremony was chaired by Dr A. Namanga Ngongi, Vice Chair and a representative of the IITA Board of Trustees.
The Congo Basin is a total of 3.7 million square kilometers and home to some of the largest undisturbed stands of tropical rainforest on earth in addition to large wetlands. It increasingly faces severe challenges in the areas of water, health, food security, biodiversity as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Congo Basin Institute is designed to establish an environmentally friendly research campus which will serve as a nexus for interdisciplinary research, education, training, and technology development. It will focus on finding solutions to those critical issues in the Congo Basin.
During the opening ceremony, the IITA Deputy Director General, for Partnerships and Capacity Development, Dr Kenton Dashiell said: “I am happy to participate in the inauguration of the Congo Basin Institute as it will allow scientists from Africa and the US to work together on the most pressing issues of the day. Only by working together beyond country borders and science disciplines can we find sustainable solutions to food security in an integrated approach”.
The facilities at the campus will include a large conference center, a distance learning center, an equipment repair establishment as well as lodging facilities for visiting students and researchers. Two existing state-of-the-art facilities–molecular genetics and analytical laboratories– and a newly established GIS and remote sensing training center were officially added during the inauguration ceremony. Dr Namanga stressed that the research results from the use of these facilities will be “put to test in incubation platforms to encourage the scaling up and use of viable and sustainable solutions to many of the challenges in nutrition, agriculture, health, human resource development, and the use of science to support sustainable livelihoods. Ultimately, these will impact the lives of millions of people in the Congo Basin and beyond and also contribute to the sustainable management of the Congo Basin ecosystem.”
The CBI will also serve as an incubator for start-ups and entrepreneurs and a meeting point for an international community of scientists and researchers.
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