OR/17/064 Workshop participants

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Gill, J C, and Mankelow, J. 2017. Workshop report: earth and environmental science for sustainable development (Lusaka, September 2017). Nottingham, UK, British geological Survey, OR/17/064.


Over the course of the two-day workshop, BGS engaged with 26 participants from 14 different organisations (22 participants from 10 organisations based in Zambia, 2 participants from 2 organisations in Malawi, and 2 participants from 2 organisations in Zimbabwe). Participants were recruited via emails to existing contacts, a search of relevant organisations in Zambia, and through word-of-mouth. Twenty-two of the workshop participants were based in Zambia, two participants were based in Malawi, and two participants were based in Zimbabwe. Some organisations or individuals attending the workshop operate internationally, engaged in research and/or activities in the wider eastern Africa region and beyond. Table 1 gives a summary of participating organisations, with information on the organisation’s purpose and activities. Information was collected through a simple survey completed by participants, and from organisational websites (where available).

Table 1    Participating Organisations.
Sector Organisation Groups Description of Work and Research Activities
Academia University of Zambia Geology Training in the exploration, exploitation, processing and utilisation of raw materials, and training for careers in environmental management, water resources and pollution control programmes.
Humanities and Social Sciences Contributes to national human resource capacity building in a broad-range of social science and humanities disciplines. The School has eleven departments, including development studies, economics, and political and administrative studies.
Agricultural Sciences Offers degrees in animal science, crop science, agro- economics, soil science, food science and human nutrition.
Zambian Open University Geography Engaged in research on climate change (resilience, adaptation and mitigation strategies). Many geographical topics are taught, including hazards and disasters, hydrology, geology, energy, food security and water resources. Department has a meteorological station.
Copperbelt University (Zambia) Biological Sciences Engaged in research on microbial ecology of extreme environments, looking at the effects of mining on health and environment nanoparticle biosafety.
Chemistry Engaged in research on water and sanitation, looking at the risks to water associated with mining-related pollution.
Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Malawi) Faculty of Agriculture Focused on research and teaching related to agronomy, soil science, agricultural sciences, environmental science, natural resources, soil and water management, and pollution sciences.
University of Zimbabwe Soil Science Department Aims to develop quality research, teaching and training in soil science, bio-resources and environmental engineering and management in Zimbabwe, southern Africa and beyond. Topics include soil chemistry, soil physics, environmental management, water analytics, post-harvest and land reclamation.
Government Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (Zambia) Zambia Agricultural Research Institute The overall objective of the department is to provide a high quality, appropriate and cost effective service to farmers, generating and adapting crop, soil and plant protection technologies. Engaged in research on agriculture, soil and water management, plant protection and farming systems. Information disseminated to various key stakeholders.
Ministry of Health (Zambia) Public Health Responsible for developing and implementing programs and projects aimed at preventing, controlling and eliminating diseases in order to promote health and prolong life.
BGR (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany) Technical Cooperation (Groundwater) Committed to sustainable use of natural resources and protection of the human habitat. Advise ministries and the European Community and act as partners in industry and science. Their technical cooperation programme in Zambia includes work on Groundwater Resources Management (GReSP).
Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development (Zimbabwe) Chemistry and Soil Research Institute, Department of Research and Specialist Services Aim to be a centre of excellence in agricultural research leading to the generation of cutting-edge technologies and promotion of high quality regulatory and advisory services. Conducts research for agricultural technology development and providing regulatory dissemination and specialist services on all livestock and crops, except tobacco, tea and sugarcane. Example research topics include soil nutrition, soil fertility management, soil microbiology, pedological surveys, and environmental impact assessments.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (Malawi) Agricultural Research Services Focus on agricultural research and technology transfer, climate change and soil and water management.
Private Sector Basa Agro (Zambia) A private sector organisation working to recruit famers to value addition programmes (e.g., mills and expelling oil).
Zambian Sustainable Environmental Solutions Ltd No information available.
BioGas Energy Solutions (Zambia) No information available.
Association of Zambian Mineral Exploration Companies Engage on themes of mineral exploration and legislation, acting as a liaison between government and mining companies, and giving assistance with small-scale exploration.

Existing networks and collaborations[edit]

Following brief introductions from representatives of each of the organisations in Table 1, four multi-sectoral groups were established. Each group was tasked with identifying where existing collaborations exist, and describing the nature and strength of these relationships. Figure 1 synthesises this mapping exercise. The four network diagrams in Figure 1 give a preliminary understanding of existing and absent collaborations in each of the four groups, with further research needed to understand the detailed nature of these. We note that additional collaborations may exist not captured in these diagrams (for example, between organisations in different groups).

Example pathways to impact[edit]

The final exercise in this section was a group discussion around three different scenarios, and appropriate pathways to impact:

  • Two groups considered approaches to connect new research to policy-makers, informing policy development, and ensuring effective policy implementation,
  • Assimilating data and promoting a new geodata portal, and
  • Integrating perspectives from local communities into a new research programme.
Figure 1    Mapping Existing Collaborations. A schematic to show the extent of existing collaborations between organisations represented at the workshop, divided into four multi-sectoral groups. Cell shading indicates the sectors represented, and line thickness indicates the relative strength of collaborations (determined by participants).

Each group considered the organisations and collaborations that are necessary for their scenario to be successful. Groups considered which collaborations already exist and are mature, and which new collaborations need to be developed. Potential barriers to prevent collaborations were also discussed. These discussions provided a rich source of information on pathways to development impact in the particular political and social context of Zambia, although parallels with Zimbabwe and Malawi were also noted.

From research to policy
Two teams considered the uptake of research into policy, using examples of food security in Malawi and mine pollution in Zambia. A key observation made across both groups is that responsibility for socio-environmental issues stretches across multiple ministries. Tackling socio-environmental issues (e.g., ensuring access to sufficient, continuous, nutritious food) will require integrated approaches, with policy coherence across ministries. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for food security whereas the Ministry of Health is responsible for food nutrition. Research into mining pollution would be of interest to the Zambian Environmental Management Agency, the Ministry of Mines, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Environmental Protection. Applied research will likely require involvement of stakeholders from multiple organisations, with communication of research results to policy makers in multiple ministries. Discussions also indicated that there is currently a lack of research uptake by policy makers. Policy is often politically driven, rather than science driven. It is not always consultative (bottom up), with scientists (the knowledge holders) recommending actions.

Assimilating data and promoting a geodata portal
The accessibility and management of data was an important theme of previous workshops (e.g., see Gill et al., 2017[1]). This exercise encouraged participants to discuss the stakeholders and processes involved in the assimilation of relevant data into an open portal, and its promotion to relevant users. In addition to finance being required at all stages, the group noted the following stages and considerations:

  • Data collection. Improvements in equipment are needed to help collect sufficient and reliable data.
  • Data formats. Data needs to be in digital formats, but this is currently not always the case. There needs to be negotiation with stakeholders for improved open-access data.
  • Data management and quality assurance.
  • Accessibility (to data and data products). Databases, and maps derived from data, will need to be placed online. Education initiatives to support users to access and benefit from this data will also be needed.
  • Publicising data portals. This can be done by conferences, workshops and social media, seeking to engage relevant specialists and ministries.

Integrating perspectives from local communities
Recognising the frequent need to engage with local communities when undertaking science-for-development, this scenario explored relevant stakeholders and processes in a Zambian context. The group noted the importance of collaborating with civil society, as they have good links with local community groups. They can help to mobilise communities to actively engage in activities, and provide support to research uptake. Within communities, political and religious community leaders have an important role, and can help to mobilise the broader community. They act as key bridges between relevant national ministries (e.g., Ministry of Community Development) and the wider community. Women are also an important group to engage with, often having household responsibilities that would help to inform research. Regional and district governments may provide extension services, (e.g., community liaison officers) who can help to connect universities to stakeholders.


  1. GILL, J C, MILLS, K, and MANKELOW, J. 2017. Workshop Report: Earth and Environmental Science for Sustainable Development (Nairobi, March 2017). BGS Open Report (OR/17/039). 28pp.