[WLRC: Nov 22, 2023]: The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) – the GUILD Clusters of Excellence consortium members, namely: CDE, the University of Bern from the North and WLRC, Addis Ababa University and CETRAD, Nairobi University from the South held Inaugural meeting of the Clusters of Research Excellence in Sustainable Water and Land Resource Management for Human Well-being, at WLRC Meeting Hall, Addis Ababa. The purpose was to reiterate the broader goals of the project and to chart the collaborating parties’ roles in the ways forward.

Prof. Dr. Beru said that ARUA – The GUILD Clusters Excellence would be a good opportunity to deepen collaboration and partnerships between and among 21 GUILD-member universities in the North and the 16 ARUA member universities in the South. He indicated that the partnership between the University of Bern, Switzerland from Europe and WLRC, Addis Ababa University with Water and Land Resources Center as technical lead and Nairobi university, Rhodes University, South Africa; University of Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), Senegal; and Babeș-Bolyai University ClujNapoca, Romania from the South is part of ARUA-the GUILD framework. Prof. Dr. Beru expressed readiness of the University of Bern to use the partnership as an opportunity to maximize collaborative engagements, such as staff exchange programmes, graduate student fellowships and so on.

Dr. Gete presented highlights of, “ARUA – The Guild Clusters of Research Experience (CoRE) on Sustainable Water and Land Resource Management for Human Well-being”, which has the overarching goal of linking research partners in sustainable water and land resource management with partners from policy and practice. He also indicated that CoRE will focus on four work packages: knowledge co-production; governance system; monitoring and evaluation; and outreach coordination and networking platforms.

Also the CoE document states that together, ARUA – the GUILD teams would address land degradation to foster sustainable development, conflict resolution, and human well-being. This proposal will contribute mainly to the “Green Transition” priority area, and partly to “Innovation and Technology” and “Capacities for Science”.

Prof. Tadesse Fetahi and Prof. Zerihun Woldu on their part expressed AAU’s commitment to further its roles in ARUA – the GUILD. They promised to take the issue to the attention of the new Management of AAU, which is revising the Senate Legislation and Strategic Plan of the University. Prof. Zerihun also commended WLRC to be accredited as a recognized voice on water and land resources at Africa level.

The Consortium members emphasized the need to explore funding opportunities both from within and from outside as well, by starting with what is available from within; and then formed a working group with the duty to chart out details of the roles and responsibilities of each consortium member institution. The working group was formed constituting: Dr. Isabelle Providoli on the side of the CDE, University of Bern; Dr. Boniface Kiteme and Dr. Boniface Wambua on the part of CETRAD, Nairobi University; Dr. Amare Bantider on the part of WLRC; and Prof. Zerihun Woldu on the part of AAU.

Present in the meeting were: Dr. Isabelle Providoli and Prof. Dr. Thomas Beru, Director of Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern; Dr. Boniface Kiteme, Director of the Centre for Training and Integrated Research in ASAL Development (CETRAD), Nairobi University, Kenya; Professor Tadesse Fetahi, Research and Technology Transfer Director of AAU and Prof. Zerihun Woldu ARUA Focal person on the part of AAU; Dr. Gete Zeleke, WLRC Director General; Dr. Tena Alamirew and the Division Directors, including Dr. Amare Bantider who is the ARUA focal person from the WLRC side.