Scientists Networked for Outcomes from Water and Sanitation (SNOWS) Consortium, hosted by the Civil Engineering Department, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, with the support of the Wellcome Trust has held its 2nd International Conference for Early Career Scientists Working in Africa at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Kumasi.
The conference brought together twenty nine (29) early career researchers and over twenty (20) senior academics in Africa and Europe working in the fields of Water, Sanitation, Environmental Health and Hygiene. Early career researchers were selected across Africa and Europe after a competitive review of abstracts.
Professor Samuel Nii Odai, the Director of the SNOWS Consortium, said the programme was aimed at building the capacity of young scientists. He said midcareer scientists or professionals were the next generation leaders and therefore every effort should be made to prepare them through training and mentorship. The SNOWS Consortium sees this as essential, and that is why the conference for early career scientists had been convened to give opportunity to young professionals in the fields of water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) to be trained.
Prof. Odai hoped the conference would grant participating young scientists the opportunity to learn first-hand from seasoned academics from Africa and Europe the elements of research and presentations. Participants would also be educated in research costing and academic writing. The mentorship section would also give the opportunity to participants to interact with senior academics and be guided in their chosen research areas.
Among others, the early career scientists benefitted from three keynote presentations. Prof. Hunter (University of East Anglia) presented a paper on “Ebola Virus Disease: What Risk from Water and Sanitation”. Dr. Philip Amoah (International Water Management Institute, Ghana) made a presentation on “Safe Recovery of Nutrients: Organic Wastes and Water from Domestic Waste for Urban Agriculture” and Prof. Bashir (University of Gezira) also had a paper on “Lactuca spp. Seeds as a Bioindicator for the Toxicity of Gezira Tannery Corporation Waste Water and some Major Tanning Agents.” Keynote presentations have been designed to give delegates a global perspective on some current issues in the WaSH sector.
Another highlight was a training workshop tailored to prepare participants to improve their academic writing, presentations and research costing skills. Prof. Hunter delivered a paper on “How to make a ten-minute presentation” and “Academic Writing”. Mike Van Der Es together with Dr. Maha Bouzid made a presentation on “Research Costing”.
After presentations by all early career scientists, Esther Akpene Donkor of KNUST was adjudged the best presenter. Esther presented a paper on “Defluoridation of Drinking Water using Surfactant Modified Zeolites.” Her research was supervised by Dr. Richard Buamah, a senior lecturer at the Department of Civil Engineering.
Sheillah Simiyu of the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa received the 2nd best presenter award and Eva Mathatha of the University of Pretoria, South Africa was adjudged the third best presenter. Sheillah did a presentation on “The Urban Poor’s Willingness to Pay for Sanitation in the Informal Settlements of Kisumu, Kenya” and Eva’s paper was on “Outbreak of Cholera in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, South Africa.” Each award winner received a certificate of honour and a cash prize.
Two presenters, Charles Gyamfi (Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa) and Mrs. Jo-Anne Lee Geere (University of East Anglia, U.K.) also received honorary mention for distinguished presentations.
SNOWS with support from the Wellcome Trust, U.K. aims to build African capacity for interdisciplinary research in water, sanitation and environmental health and hygiene.