Developing Africa’s Scientific Leaders
Mercy Derkyi, a social development worker entered into a career in academics in 2013. She joined the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Ghana as a lecturer. Her late entry with academics required her to survive the ‘publish or perish’ requirement in academia.
The Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) was one of the ways Derkyi enhanced her research capability and publication. She was one of the first fellows of CIRCLE in 2015, which enabled her to spend a year at the Regional Institute of Population Studies at the University of Ghana researching on ‘how men and women farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change’.
The one-year CIRCLE programme provided her with mentors to guide her in research and career development.
Her research confirmed that women and men have poor access to agricultural resources, climate change information and service centres, and that coupled with socio-economic challenges are impacting how they adapt to this global phenomenon. Her results are published in AAS Open Research on ‘Smallholder farmers’ perception of climatic and socio-economic factors influencing livelihoods in the transition zone of Ghana’ and ACU April 2018 Bulletin ‘Intersecting issues: climate change, gender, and development’ (p 6-7)
Derkyi’s research inspired her to initiate the establishment of the Centre for Climate Change and Gender Studies at the UENR together with other colleagues where research, capacity building and co-creation and dissemination of knowledge on integrating gender into developmental issues such as climate change are carried out. At the centre, she and her team are working hard to ensure their scientific research influences policy especially on women, who comprise 70 % of agricultural workforce in Africa yet remain poor.
Their research provides adequate support to deal with climate change for enhanced livelihoods.
CIRCLE also trained Derkyi to write the grant proposals, which have enabled her to win some remarkable grants together with collaborators.
Five years after joining academia, Derkyi is now an independent researcher and was just named a senior lecturer.
“I am grateful to CIRCLE for providing me with the skills that have helped shape and develop me as a scientist and scientific leader,” she says.