The globally coordinated master program tailor-made for the Ethiopian context, to facilitate the sustainable expansion of irrigation, ‘MSc in Irrigation Engineering and Management’, has been launched by Arba Minch University in October 2015. Partnering institutions like Mekelle and Bahir Dar universities are likely to launch it in the next academic year. It’s the result of joint efforts between AMU, Jimma, Haramaya, Mekelle, Dilla, Hawassa, Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar universities will primarily focus on the management and socio-economic aspects of irrigation on sustainable basis, says the project focal person, Dr Mekonin Ayana.
This program is the part of the project for Ethiopia, called ‘Capacity Development of Higher Education in Small-Scale Irrigation’ initiated by Netherlands government under its development cooperation program. Scientific Director of Institute of Technology, Dr Negash Wagesho, is the director of the project.
This distinct program will integrate engineering and management aspect of irrigation. With its problem-based didactic approach and overriding practical education will link the real demands in actual irrigation schemes surrounding universities.
It introduces gender-sensitive approach to irrigation and draws national expertise from the eight University Water Sector Partnership (UWSP) universities and international experts from project consortium members i.e. UNESCO-IHE, Wageningen University, MetaMeta, IWMI and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Two of four master students Niels Zyden and Jan Gnodde from the consortium member, Wageningen University have already started research under the guardianship of AMU experts are focusing on International Land and Water Management. Remaining two students are likely to arrive soon, informs Dr Mekonin.
This program will have the advantage to utilize the rich infrastructure of upcoming Hare Irrigation Scheme, nearby AMU, which is getting equipped with advanced hi-tech equipments exported from Netherlands.
Hare Irrigation Scheme, is a private-public initiative, where AMU and other higher education institutions would carry out action research that will ultimately identify the existing problem being faced by the community and suggest the solution as well, he added.
Presently, AMU hosting 16 students, two each from partnering institutions, assures to open it for others in future. Importantly, students are provided with the teaching materials designed by the consortium members, laptop each and financial support for the research as well.
Stressing the practicability aspect, Dr Mekonan, said, ‘‘Agriculture is the leading economic sector which is affected by the climate variability, therefore, to minimize the risk, development of irrigation will receive special attention under GTP-II. Specially, this program will equip students with practical knowledge, theory, methods and skills along with analytical ability is all set to change the national scenario.’’
Under this collaborative program six Master students, three from AMU and one each from Bahr Dar, Mekelle and Haramaya will head to UNESCO-IHE and Wageningen University for their studies. AMU will also send two PhD students to Wageningen University, he revealed.
The project under which the above program is being run, would be hosting two-day annual workshop in Addis Ababa from 12th to 13th Nov 2015. Around 80 delegates from educational institutions, governmental and NGOs are expected to attend the workshop.

(By Corporate Communication Directorate: Philips Joseph)