Arba Minch University’s one of the big-ticket programs, a cluster of six projects - ‘Forty springs, Forty nations, finding common ground for sustainable development in the South-Ethiopian Rift Valley,’ has recently bagged fund from Vlaamse Inter-universitaire Raad-Institutional University Cooperation (VLIR-IUC), Belgium.

With the acquisition of fund, AMU under the overall development objective is expected to capitalize on ethnic diversity in the region as a tool which will lead to sustainable development in the Southern Rift Valley. On academic front, it stands to improve the capacity of academic and research staff and strengthen facilities for research and teaching in the university.

South-Central part of Rift Valley characterized by two huge lakes, Abaya and Chamo, is the project domain. Gamo, Gedeo, Sidama, Wolaita, Zeyise, Gidicho, Kore, Konso, Hadiya, Halaba and others are said to be the nations to be benefitted from the composite studies.
The program will address identified core areas: ICT, health, land degradation, livelihood, agricultural productivity and biodiversity conservation. It may support over 30 PhD studies for university wherein doctoral candidates will be trained in Belgium and conduct research in South Rift Valley. Its 5-year duration may extend to 12 on the basis of performance, Dr Guchie stated.
The project is stated to play a significant role in restoration and conservation of biodiversity, which in turn improves ecosystem services, watershed protection, soil stabilization and erosion control, provision of clean water, climate stabilization and carbon sequestration in the area are also the expected results of the program.
In addition, the livelihoods of local communities will be enhanced through an increment of ecosystem services. The program will also support Ethiopian ‘Climate Resilient, Green Economy (CRGE)’ strategy, as it is fully interlinked. 
He further informed, initially AMU had submitted a concept note and by May 2016, detailed document with expected results will be presented to VLIR-IUC. All projects would get functional by January 2017, as match-making process with supporting Flemish universities of Northern Belgium has to begin to accomplish the task.
It’s learnt that the project-built research facilities can serve beyond the project lifecycle and capacitate university to achieve institutional and developmental objectives. As the result, capacity of academicians and researchers activities will be sustainably enhanced.
After the projects cycle, university is expected to have well improved system on all identified core areas. Those obtaining PhDs will discern the hydrological process of Abaya-Chamo, social set-up, bio-diversity, health related issues to some extent. Later, they will furnish the information to policy makers to frame laws supporting our endeavor, he adds.
Visibly delighted, Dr Guchie, as the Program Coordinator, said, ‘‘I am very happy because this achievement is unprecedented in the history of university. It has demonstrated our ability; if we get organized, we can enhance the standard of research and teaching-learning process of the university.’’
Six specific approved projects under above mentioned program are, 1) Improving teaching and research processes of AMU by enhancing ICT and library automation, 2) Embracing ethnic diversity to streamline livelihood strategies in the South Ethiopian Rift Valley, 3) Improving maternal and child health in the South Ethiopian Rift Valley, 4) Reversing land degradation for sustainable economic development in the South Ethiopian Rift Valley, 5) Improving agricultural .productivity in the South Ethiopian Rift Valley and 6) Biodiversity conservation for sustainable development in the South Ethiopian Rift Valley.

(By Corporate Communication Directorate: Philips Joseph)