Core Research Programme

Phase I: 2012-2016

The WASCAL Core Research Programme (CRP) brings together a German research consortium, coordinated by the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, and an equivalent consortium on the West African side that has designed a joint research programme on adapted land use and management of land under changing climatic conditions. The research programme focuses on:

  • improving the adaptive capacity of ecological and socio-economic systems in the face of climate change
  • securing the flows of key ecosystem services like food production, provision of clean water, soil productivity, carbon sequestration, and services related to biodiversity
  • improving human livelihoods
WASCAL research area (Zones according to White, 1983 The vegetation of Africa. Paris: UNESCO)
WASCAL research area (Zones according to White, 1983 The vegetation of Africa. Paris: UNESCO)

The initial research area is the southern Sudanian savanna belt of West Africa (White, 1983), which is considered as the potential breadbasket of the region (see map).

The Core Research Programme aims to strengthen the analytical capability of the Competence Centre by developing qualitative and quantitative tools and models that can link bio-physical and socio-economic processes and their feed backs. These models are used to develop and analyze scenarios of the impacts of climate change, including the assessment of alternative land use options as a means to help society to cope with the vagaries of climate change, including climate trends as well as climate variability and extreme events.

The research activities of the WASCAL Core Research Programme are grouped into six research clusters:

  •  climate and weather
  •  landscape dynamics
  •  agricultural systems
  •  markets and livelihoods
  •  risk management
  •  integrated assessment

Each research cluster consists of a set of interrelated research topics, which are formulated in the form of work packages.

The Core Research Programme investigates the capacity of the focal social-ecological systems to cope with a large variety of possible future events and developments, thus aiming at enhancing the systems’ resilience against climate change impacts. Accordingly, the research clusters are initiated to:

  • establish historical profiles of the social-ecological systems in the selected research areas along with a land use intensification gradient
  • investigate the impact of driving forces, including climate change and variability, on the social-ecological systems and
  • assess and quantify the indicators and their thresholds associated with key driving forces for an integrated interdisciplinary resilience analysis of scenarios outlined above.

The interdisciplinary research clusters interact closely with the Competence Centre in the exchange of information and data, and provide innovative concepts, tools, and models for integrated assessment of policy and management actions to enhance the adaptive capacity and resilience of social-ecological systems. The Planning and Policy Network of the Competence Centre ensures that the science-based adaptation strategies developed in the Core Research Programme are discussed and evaluated together with relevant stakeholders before they are formulated as policy and management actions.

Main Cooperation Partners