Geospatial information science: the new future for Ethiopian Education and Agricultural Transformation
|December 13, 2017||Posted by Bisrat Sebhatlab under Notices|
Water and food scarcity are the biggest problem globally and the scarcity is more pronounced in the arid and semiarid regions. Studies have indicated that water and food security are the key challenges under future climate as both are highly variable to continuously changing climatic patterns. The studies have predicted that the average global temperature may increase by 1.4–5.8 °C and there would be substantial reduction in fresh water resources and agricultural yield by the end of the 21st century.
Despite these challenges, rapid technological advancements in earth observation capabilities, coupled with advances in IT, cloud computing, GNSS, mobile technologies and the smartphone revolution have created a unique opportunity for implementing smarter solutions for the agriculture sector globally. Especially, in the development of a nation, the importance of education that ever keeps abreast with modern geoinformation trends cannot be underestimated. It goes without saying; quality education is the key instrument a nation keeps on bringing into play to fast track development. However, these challenges require also concentrated efforts from various partners.
New ideas and new knowledge require international collaboration:
There are various initiatives worldwide with international collaboration to support the agricultural development in developing countries focusing on the use of geospatial applications and technologies. For example, the Dutch government has started a programme called Geospatial for Agriculture and Water (G4AW). This has the ambition to use geospatial data to reach out to smallholder farms to improve their productivity. It has projects in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Kenya and more. However, most of these initiatives have limited multi-partner cofounding schemes.
Realizing the importance of international and national collaboration, Mekelle University has invested so much to establish an international collaboration with various international and national institutes to support the academics, research and community services. To this end Mekelle University is one of the national Universities with the highest international collaboration.
Now, through the collaborative partnership of Mekele University (MU), Bahir Dar University (BDU), Addis Ababa University (AAU) and ITC (University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation) a project proposal entitled the “Ethiopian Educational Network to Support Agricultural Transformation (EENSAT)” was submitted to the Netherlands Fellowship program, Nuffic (through NICHE program: The Netherlands Initiative for Capacity development in Higher Education) for funding. The project is accepted for funding and started its activity as of January, 2017.
The four year project will have Academics, research and outreach components. Through the academics, curriculum review and equipping the laboratories through geoinfomation technology will be the major component and through the research program the project will have 9 PhD, 18 MSc and tailor-made training. The outreach will focus on establishing a sustainable collaboration between the network, and the public and private sector that stimulates spin off and entrepreneurship. The project is co-sponsored by Nuffic, ITC and Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Education.
The aim of the EENSAT project is to strengthen and align the capacity of higher learning institutions in Ethiopia in the use of geo-spatial data for agricultural transformation and natural resource management towards enhancing food security and building climate change resilient communities in direct alignment with the Growth and Transformation Plan II of Ethiopia. In particular the project is expected to contribute in enhancing food security and agricultural growth in Ethiopia so that Ethiopians will have better access to nutritious food and increased trade relations between Ethiopia and the Netherlands. The project encompasses private institutions like GEOSAS and Panafrica Geoinformation Services from Ethiopia and NEVASCO from the Netherlands.
The EENSAT project conducted its kick-off workshop on Oct 5, 2017 at HoAREC&N at Gulele Botanical Garden located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During the workshop various national and international partners attended the workshop. Presentations from partner institutions and the project, breakaway discussions with participants and signing ceremony were the major activities during the workshop.
During the event, dr. B.H.P. Maathuis (Ben) from ITC-UT and the PI of the EENSAT project presented an overview of the project, including a demo video demonstrating the use of geospatial technologies like Drone for the preparation of Digital Surface Model (Pic above). Gift of appreciation that depicts the DSM for the HoAREC&N at Gulele Botanical Garden was presented to Prof. Negussie Reta and Dr. Nibbering for their support thus far and their continued support in the future. The project members also presented the various components of the project activities and feedbacks obtained from the participants during the breakaway session. Accordingly Dr. Abiy Zegeye, Dr. Daniel Teka and Mr. Birhanu Gedif presented on the outreach, research and education components of the project.
Following the presentations, the Consortium Agreement between the EENSAT partners was signed by the partner institutions represented by Dr. Abebe Ejigu (the Vice President for Support Services at MU), Dr. Mulunesh Abebe (the Vice Presidents for Research and Community Services at BDU), and Prof Tom Veldkamp (the Dean of ITC).
Finally Dr. Mulunesh addressed a farewell and the workshop was closed. For detail information about EENSAT visit www.eensat.org