A year as a CIRCLE Visiting Fellow has provided opportunities for a Zimbabwean academic to publish and present her work in international conferences.

Before Olga Laiza Kupika, a lecturer at Zimbabwe’s Chinhoyi University of Technology, became one of the 34 awarded the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) Visiting Fellowship in 2015, she had only presented her work in two conferences in Zimbabwe.

Kupika had also published one climate change related paper titled ‘Climate change and variability as perceived by river dependent rural communities in Makonde District, Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe’ in the Zimbabwe Journal of Technological Sciences published by Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT). CUT, where she lectures in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, publishes the journal. 

But as her CIRCLE Visiting Fellowship ends in December, her fortunes have changed. In 2015 alone, she presented her work in five conferences across Africa including the Disaster Risks Sciences and Management Conference held in South Africa in March 2015. Other conferences where Kupika has presented her work are the First International Conference on Innovation for Sustainability under Climate Change and Green Growth held in May 2015 in South Africa and the 4th Climate Change and Population Conference on Africa in Ghana in July 2015.
“I have had a lot of exposure because of CIRCLE,” says the CIRCLE Fellow whose research focuses on the impacts of climate change on wildlife and human communities. 


CIRCLE is an initiative of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) that the AAS is implementing in partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities. CIRCLE allows post-masters researchers like Kupika to spend a year in an institution outside their home institution doing research on climate change and its impact on development in Africa. Kupika spent her year at the University of South Africa (UNISA). CIRCLE fellowships are also provided to post-doctoral researchers.
By spending a year focusing on research, CIRCLE hopes among others to enable early career researchers in Africa to develop solutions to address the impacts of climate change on their communities and to improve their publication record. CIRCLE also provides a platform for researchers to create networks that will provide opportunities to develop their careers.

Publishing opportunities

In Kupika’s case, she not only got opportunities to present her work in international conferences but also conducted research that has enabled her to write four manuscripts, one of which has been submitted to the JAMBA: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, which published in South Africa.
Her research will also be featured in a book chapter to be the School of Wildlife, Ecology and Conservation at CUT and in the Natural Resources Forum, a United Nations journal, as well as the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development published by Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa. 
Her CIRCLE funded research, adopted a multidisciplinary approach to explore green economy initiatives and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the wildlife sector. The study was carried out in the Nyamakate Resettlement area and Mana Pools National Park located within the Middle Zambezi biosphere Reserve, Zimbabwe. Results from the study will inform stakeholders in the wildlife sector and policy makers on the theoretical and practical issues underpinning climate change and green economy agenda in biosphere reserves.   
Her work before CIRCLE focused on climate change adaptation at a local level but now she has adopted a multidisciplinary approach, which allows her to look at the impact of climate change and green economy issues at regional and international scales. 
“Before CIRCLE I had challenges in using mixed methods approach to do multidisciplinary research, but now I have learnt a lot from my host supervisor at UNISA, Professor Godwell Nhamo.  CIRCLE incorporates the hard sciences linking them to social sciences as we study the impacts of climate change in our communities.”
CIRCLE provided opportunities to network that also led her to co-authoring a paper titled, ‘First generation land reform in Zimbabwe: historical and institutional dynamics informing household’s vulnerability in the Nyamakate Resettlement communities’ in the Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, Volume 17(3) 2015. 
Her CIRCLE fellowship ends in December 2015 but she has already won a PhD scholarship under the Reinforcement of Agricultural and Environmental Research in Zimbabwe (DREAM), a project funded by CIRAD, a French research centre. 
 “CIRCLE has prepared me to tackle a PhD,” she says.