Research picking up pace in Arba Minch University

Research Directorate with its twin mandate of serving academia and community has come of age. If pace, quantity and quality of researches being conducted from inception to date are any indications, then its bang on target and hundreds of multi-disciplinary projects benefitting community would make our claim credible. Till date, Research Directorate has completed 150 projects which were primarily focused on myriad issues of health, water resources, agricultural, social, environmental, cultural values etc. And over the years, major chunk of them said to have created noteworthy impact in health areas i.e. communicable diseases and agricultural productivities.
Presently, 48 on-going projects are delving into issues like construction, renewable energy, water resources, soil transmitted helmithes (STH), cervical cancer, diabetes, sanitation, TB, HIV, food insecurity, astronomical observatory, etc.
The Director, Dr Fantahun, said, ‘‘Our three research centres and a unit, Water Resource Research Centre, Main Campus; Biological and Cultural Diversity Research Centre, Abaya Campus; Gircha Highland Fruits & Vegetable Research Centre at Chencha and Social and Behavioral Research Unit at Chamo Campus are trying to address emerging needs of the community.
He further informed about the move to establish Renewable Energy Research Centre which is to be situated at Abaya and Main Campus whereas project-level Demographic Surveillance Research Centre is likely to be upgraded.
Emphasizing upward trends, he said, ‘‘In the span of 12 years, research proposals have grown three-fold. Therefore, those projects offering potential solution to community problems win funding. Similarly, emerging needs of community has necessitated the revision of thematic areas. To keep afloat in the global environment, AMU will soon join African Research Forum. Our strong ties with Belgium VLIR-IUC further got cemented as AMU won funding for six projects. AMU is also connected to Christenson Funds and an Italian University,’’ he adds.
On huge number of one-year projects, he said, ‘‘It inspires and orients young researchers and helps to get promoted while four-year projects are handled by senior and experienced staff. On commitment for research, he said, ‘‘Now trend is changing, many academic staff are writing proposals thus utilizing 25% of their time in research.’’
At times theory gets precedence over applied aspect due to lack of commitment; then logistics seem to cripple plans but now we have vehicles exclusively for research activities, he clarified. 
To build the capacity of research staff, Research Directorate is imparting trainings on usage of software and proposal writings to win potential grants. It will help grab 10% fund from external resources like governmental bodies, global and private organizations.
Giving piece of advice, Dr Fantahun, said, ‘‘We need to be committed because the nation has done a lot and given us a distinct identity, therefore, it’s our duty to solve our own problems. Team-work will give us energy to tide over all adversities coming in our way of success’’.

(By Corporate Communication Directorate: Philips Joseph)