Mafuwe, Musinguzi and Rabetrano selected to provide regional support in Africa

Trio of biodiversity informatics experts will build on existing ties with GBIF community and EU-funded BID programme

Hypolimnas misippus
False plain tiger (Hypolimnas misippus (Linnaeus, 1764)) observed in Hurungwe, Zimbabwe by justinehelenbrown (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The GBIF Secretariat has selected three contractors to help further develop the network's community of practice in sub-Saharan Africa and support the European Union-funded Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) programme.

Kudzai Mafuwe of the University of Zimbabwe, Laban Musinguzi of Uganda's National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFiRRI), and Tsiky Rabetrano from le Réseau de la Biodiversité de Madagascar (REBIOMA) will each apply their wide-ranging ties and experience under two-year agreements to provide technical assistance to teams leading the 19 projects newly funded through BID, share guidance on best practices and encourage long-term engagement with other members of GBIF's network in Africa.

"We're delighted to welcome colleagues who will help us support our funded projects in sub-Saharan Africa," said Mélianie Raymond, senior programme officer for node development. "The addition of Kudzai, Laban and Tsiky to the team significantly strengthens our coordination and technical support for data mobilization and data quality in the region. By providing more targeted and in-depth capacity development to project teams, we’re confident this new approach will result in broader engagement in the GBIF community of practice once the projects end."

Kudzai Mafuwe is an entomologist working as a junior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. In her previous role as a curator of entomology at the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, she led the museum's involvement on two projects funded through the BID programme, coordinating Zimbabwean involvement in the African Insect Atlas and leading a data mobilization project for Freshwater biodiversity of the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. In addition to her hands-on knowledge of data capture, management, publishing and cleaning, Ms Mafuwe successfully organized and facilitated BID training workshops in Zimbabwe involving more than 100 students and has served as both mentor and trainer in GBIF's regional workshops. She also expects to leverage help-desk style experience from her role as director of research at VaMudhumeni Trust, a Harare-based consultancy providing technical guidance to farmers.

Over the past four years, research officer Laban Musinguzi has led data mobilization and other projects at NaFIRRI, now a leading publisher of freshwater biodiversity data in Africa. The institute's BID-funded projects in part have supported development of the Freshwater Biodiversity Portal for Uganda and gave Mr Musinguzi access to training across a full range of data skills, from mobilization workflows, structures and standards to use and information product generation. He has in turn transferred these skills as a mentor and trainer to scientists, technicians, assistants and students in Uganda and Malawi and frequently answers technical questions from non-specialist developers and portal data users.

Tsiky Rabetrano is an animal biologist and biodiversity informatics specialist. In 2012, he joined the team developing the REBIOMA Data Portal, a project of the Wildlife Conservation Society Madagascar (WCS) that promotes the use of biodiversity data in conservation and spatial planning. He is also technical coordinator for the Madagascar Lemurs Portal, which provides comprehensive expert-validated information on the island nation's emblematic species. Overseeing data-related activities, technical development and data-sharing agreements with consortium partners, he has also facilitated sharing of the project's validated and licensed occurrence data through Mr Rabetrano is a GBIF Biodiversity Open Data Ambassador and, during BID's first phase, served as a volunteer mentor to MadBIF, Madagascar's national GBIF node, supporting their data management and publishing activities and reviewing the quality of published datasets.

While Ms Mafuwe, Mr Musinguzi and Mr Rabetrano will focus on supporting projects in sub-Saharan Africa, their appointment complements and coincides with that of Leonardo Buitrago, who will support BID-funded projects in the Caribbean. The hiring of all four regional-support contractors responds to a recommendation in the CODATA 20-Year Review of GBIF to strengthen the network's Participant nodes by stabilizing and extending the regional networks both in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

See also Call for project support proposals in Asia: deadline: 7 Sept 2021

 This programme is funded by the European Union.