Arba Minch University, one of the first generation universities in the country, poised to script a history, has taken a landmark decision to create fully autonomous ‘Water Technology Institute’ bifurcating the present Institute of Technology tentatively by January, 2017.

University President, Dr Damtew Darza, said, ‘‘AMU Board has evaluated the framework in this regard crafted by Institute of Technology and directed them to look into key issues; once, that is over, management will scrutinize it and hopefully will be approved soon.’’

He reiterated that before implementation process begins, discipline-specific academic and administrative staff approved by Ministry of Education will be recruited. Hinting at broad-layered structure for new institute, he said, both institutes will have their respective scientific directors.

The issue of Managing Director’s position is being debated that is likely to be resolved soon. When asked whether other engineering institute will be relocated, he said, ‘‘Presently, our infrastructure is strong to run both institutes, probably in future scenario will be different.’’

The rationale behind bifurcation is to make it a centre of excellence in water resource engineering across Africa. It’s expected to attract students from across African nations as right now it offers three PhDs, seven Post-Graduate and five Under-Graduate programs.

Dr Negash Wagesho, Scientific Director of Institute of Technology, on inordinate delay in launching Water Technology Institute, said, ‘‘Arba Minch Water Technology Institute was the founding institute that had started well-structured education and research but merger with other engineering programs has probably stunted its progress as an independent entity.’’

Justifying his logic, he said, ‘‘Water Technology Institute has number of sub-programs that expand, encompass and demand adequate educational inputs. Nevertheless, our structure and established units are absolutely capable to spearhead academic and research activities.’’

He informed new structure has been devised after thorough research as IoT Supervisory Committee has looked into the pros and cons of the issue. Varied experiences and challenges faced by Mekelle, Bahir Dar, Jimma and Hawassa universities have also been considered.

On which institute to remain at Main Campus, he revealed, ‘‘With AMU Board direction, both institutes will share common resources in the same campus and the moment each becomes standalone entity, decision will be taken to create a new campus that might take 3 to 4 years. However, Water Technology Institute has to stay at the Main Campus,’’ he maintained.

Citing existing bottlenecks, he said, ‘‘We have demanded separate bidding committee for procurement and purchase, as its absence cause various difficulties. Similarly, hefty budget will facilitate hi-tech laboratories and advanced equipments, otherwise monetary constraint will be a deterrent. If in-puts will be sufficient, out-puts will definitely be outstanding.’’

To substantiate his proposal to convert departments into college level to be led by deans and vice deans, Dr Negash, said, ‘‘Many engineering departments have over 1000 students, therefore, if proposal accepted, it will optimize institute’s increasing academic and administrative functioning. However, it’s the prerogative of Ministry of Education and higher authority; he clarified pitching strongly for autonomy that each institute will enjoy autonomy.

Favoring separate MD’s positions, he argues, single MD can’t handle 12,000 students, 400 instructors and huge administrative responsibilities as problems are diverse, but, hopes it to be mutually resolved.

On tasks ahead, he said, new centre for training will be established while Water Research Centre will be attached to it. Institute’s each unit will run their affairs using recurrent budget and communicate with donors abroad to tap big sum for big-ticket research projects.

The revitalized Water Technology Institute will collaborate with the Ministry of Water and Mining and develop nation-wide database on water resource that can be reference point for any hydro-projects in the country. It will also be certified to execute water-related projects and consultancy services.

Water Technology Institute will have 3 PhDs - Irrigation & Drainage Engineering, Hydrology, and Hydraulics. Nine PG (MSc) programs: Hydraulic Engineering; Irrigation and Drainage Engineering; Water Supply & Sanitation Engineering; Hydrology; Irrigation Engineering & Management; Sustainable Water Resource Engineering; Dam Engineering; Hydropower Engineering and Climate Change & Development. Four UG programs: Hydraulic & Water Resource Engineering; Water Resource & Irrigation Engineering; Water Supply & Environmental Engineering and Meteorology & Hydrology.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)