Covenant Faculty Selected for Commonwealth Climate Research Cohort
A faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering, Covenant University, Dr Chukwueloka Udechukwu Okeke, has been selected member of the Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort.
The Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort was launched by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) in partnership with the British Council. The cohort brings together 26 rising-star researchers from Commonwealth countries spreading across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Americas in recognition of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).
The research cohort would work together under a shared commitment to diversity and inclusion to bring local expertise to a global stage. It would also translate research into action and enable researchers to work with experts in the sector to influence issues related to climate and environment in their communities and beyond.
Dr Okeke is an experienced lecturer with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry, whose areas of specialty include hydroclimatic-induced natural disasters, geological hazards, GIS-based gully erosion assessment, land-use impact on rural/urban watersheds, landslides and natural dams, and ground improvement.
While speaking about his involvement in the research cohort, Dr Okeke said that natural disasters triggered by extreme hydroclimatic events and anthropogenic activities were common phenomena in Nigeria and other developing nations. He said the socio-economic impacts of these natural disasters had led to a decline in food security and had been projected to increase as a result of urban sprawl and climate change.
“The frequency and intensity of geomorphic hazards triggered by extreme hydroclimatic events and anthropogenic activities in many rural, urban and peri-urban watersheds have led to severe environmental degradation and changes in the hydrologic response of watersheds,” he stated.
Dr Okeke would seek to address these environmental challenges by identifying the major human disturbances (e.g., deforestation, agricultural intensification, and urbanisation) and hydroclimatic events (e.g., erratic rainfall and increase in temperature) that triggered the geomorphic hazards peculiar to the southern and northern regions of Nigeria.
He added that his career aspiration in the research was to play a significant role in reversing the trend of geomorphic hazards (e.g., gully erosion and riverbank retreat) triggered by extreme hydroclimatic events in Nigeria by developing a long-term watershed management plan that would involve local communities, policy-makers, artisans, farmers, and environmental scientists to reduce the impacts of these disasters at the watershed scale.
Dr Okeke thanked the Management of Covenant University for availing him the opportunity through the Directorate of the International Office and Linkages, under the leadership of Dr Ada Peter. He also appreciated the Dean, College of Engineering, Professor David Omole and the Head of Department, Civil Engineering, Professor Anthony Ede, for their support throughout the application period.
He said that his participation in the cohort would inadvertently project Covenant University to the global stage via his interaction and participation in the cohort. “Also, my participation in the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) presents another opportunity for projecting Covenant University to the global stage, especially in the area of climate change and sustainable development,” Dr Okeke enthused.
To God alone be all the glory!