The winners of the joint African Forest Forum (AFF) and the School of Agriculture, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL, Bern University, Switzerland) scholarships are:

Jacob Amoako, from Ghana; Carolyne Kyalo, from Kenya;  Nesibu Yahya Kedirkan,  from Ethiopia  and Fifonsi Ayélé Dangbo, from Togo.

A total of 41 candidates from 14 African countries applied for the scholarship: Cameroon (2), DRC (1), Ethiopia (18), Ghana (3), Guinea (1), Kenya (3), Mali (1), Nigeria (1), Senegal (3), Swaziland (1), Tanzania (1), Togo (2), Uganda (3), and Zimbabwe (1).

The scholarships are awarded to young professionals who possess the highest ability and potential, and those that have already presented an interesting research proposal for their master’s thesis. It covers all expenses including the research project costs.

Applicants were subjected to a two-level selection process. The first step was based on a selection criteria developed by AFF-HAFL scientific experts where 10 candidates were shortlisted. The successful candidates were then taken through interviews and aptitude tests in compliance with admission requirements of HAFL. Finally, the top four candidates were selected.

The AFF-HAFL scholarship programme aims to build and strengthen African capacity in forest-related policy and management by providing opportunities for young professionals from Africa to undertake master’s degree studies at HAFL. Those benefiting from the scholarship are expected to become future champions in these areas.

For one to be considered for the scholarship, the topic of his/her master’s thesis must fall within one of the following three broad thematic areas:

policies, responses to and impacts of climate change,
forest governance, livelihoods and trade in forest products and services,
stakeholder capacity to respond to climate change.

The profiles of the successful candidates:

Jacob Amoako, a Ghanaian national with a BSc in Natural Resource Management from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He is already working on REDD+ issues in Ghana and has shown a strong desire to advance his engagement in this area. He is keen on forest governance and its implications on carbon stocks and livelihoods.

Carolyne Kyalo, female from Kenya, has a BSc in Biotechnology from the University of Nairobi. She is interested in horning her research ideas in agroforestry and would like to conduct research on potential of agroforestry systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Nesibu Yahya Kedirkan, an Ethiopian male has a BSc in Forestry from Mekelle University. He is currently working at the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research as a researcher. He is interested in developing his skills in the field of forestry and development, specifically in relation to how land use change (forest clearance) and climate change impact on rural livelihoods.

Fifonsi Ayélé Dangbo, a Togolese female, with a BSc in Environmental Sciences and a Master’s degree in Environment, Water and Health from University of Lomé. She is interested in deepening her knowledge in forestry and its relationship with climate change and the economic value of forest products