WLRC, AAU Holds a High-level National Dissemination Conference

Water and Land Resource Centre, Addis Ababa University (WLRC, AAU) organized a high-level National
Dissemination Conference on the theme, “Research, Act, Impact: Harnessing the Research-Policy-Practice Complementarities in Water, Land, Climate and Livelihoods”,

The objectives of the conference held on the 15th of June 2023 at the Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa, were: to share the key findings and the impacts of, and lessons learnt from, the scientific enquiries and development initiatives which WLRC implemented jointly with its partners, stakeholders, and beneficiaries, and thereby increase the likelihood for them to be adopted or scaled out; to introduce the range of WLRC’s state-of-the-art knowledge-management products, maps and application packages and promote their use and usability by a range of beneficiaries; to learn also from the rich experiences and knowledge of partners and stakeholders; and to lay fertile grounds for future strategic partnerships and collaborations.

Prof. Mitike Molla, the Addis Ababa University Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer and Chair Woman of the WLRC Board of Trustees made Welcoming speech to the Guests of Honor and the conference participants. In her Speech, she emphasized that the Conference on that defining theme was timely and topical for WLRC to share its wealth of glamorous experiences and knowledge in both research and development interventions on diverse issues of water, land, climate, livelihoods, resource governance and knowledge management. Prof. Mitkie further noted that WLRC is the leading of AAU’s research centers which is fully autonomous and immensely productive. She acclaimed, and congratulated, the Centre for epitomizing the golden values of perseverance and commitment for
a cause and fruitfully exercising institutional and financial autonomy, elements which shall inform AAU’s move to becoming an autonomous university.

While officially opening the Conference, H.E. Ambassador Asfaw Dingamo, State Minister of Water and Energy, congratulated WLRC for organizing that important conference on such a deserving theme, Research, Act, Impact: Harnessing the Research-Policy-Practice Complementarities in Water, Land, Climate and Livelihoods”. The Minister appreciated WLRC for the brilliant works it does, including providing technical backstopping to the Ministry, and the excellent policy briefs it shared to the
participants. He also recognised WLRC as one of the key players in the water sector and vowed the Ministry’s commitment to support the Centre in all means it may deem necessary.

Mr. Ross Hughes, Head of Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, World Bank in Ethiopia, on his part congratulated WLRC for organising the conference on such a deserving theme. He also appreciated WLRC for the productive partnership it has with the World Bank on the knowledge management and information system of the SLM programme. Mr. Hughes congratulated the WLRC
leadership and staff for the productive engagements and he also indicated he would envision more and better partnerships between WLRC and the World Bank.

His Excellency Mr. Henk Jan Bakker, Ambassador of The Royal Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa, said he values the Embassy’s partnership with WLRC, particularly with reference to the Kunzila Integrated Landscape Management and WaSH project, where meaningful development ventures are happening on the ground. He then commended WLRC for the excellent works it is doing in the KILMWA and other projects, and vowed the Embassy’s interest to continue supporting WLRC and
harnessing collaborations with it.

Another keynote speaker Dr. Tilahun Amedie, Head of Resilience, Climate & Soil Fertility Unit of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), asserted that what WLRC is doing exemplifies a good complementarity of research and development. He lauded WLRC, its leadership and the staff.

The WLRC Director General Dr. Gete Zeleke presented highlights of WLRC and its activities on Transformative Research and Innovative Development Actions for Sustainable Development. After highlighting that WLRC was constituted in 2011 drawing on the successors of the Soil Conservation Research Project, he presented that the Centre is structured into seven divisions and has over 207
staff working on regular and temporary employment. He capitalized on the Learning Watersheds, Observatories and the ongoing and completed projects, key achievements, and ways forward. Dr. Gete duly recognized the supports from the Swiss Development Cooperation, the Netherlands Embassy, the UK Development Agency, the World Bank, and many other funders.

The conference participants also visited over 45 scientific posters on which the experts gave the necessary explanations. Their reflections were full of admiration and interest to visit the sites.

Highlights of core activities of WLRC and lessons learnt from them were presented by experts under four overarching themes: 1) Water and Climate Risk Management; 2) Land Systems Science and Landscape Management; 3) Socio-Economics and Resource Governance; and 4) Knowledge Management Information Systems, Capacity Development. And Communication and Outreach.

Over 150 high-level officials, including the Guests of Honor, the Chair Woman and members of the WLRC Board of Trustees, representatives of Ministries, regional bureaus of water and agriculture, universities, research for development institutes, such as the ARARIs and representatives from the CGIAR Consortia, Bi-lateral and Multi-lateral organizations, Funders, Embassies, civil society organisations and private sector representatives, Dutch Organisations working on water, and key individuals participated on the conference.

The participants expressed that they were thrilled by the volume and rigor of both research and development undertakings implemented by WLRC. They univocally congratulated and commended WLRC for the excellent works. They also demanded it to scale out the nice works to other parts of the country and even beyond in Africa and also to devise mechanisms of ensuring the sustainability of the
Centre and its impacts, such as by considering leadership succession plans, institutional strengthening, and harnessing the research-policy complementarities. Mr. Aklilu from the World Bank witnessed that, by designing a state-of-the-art knowledge management system for the World-Bank-Supported Sustainable Land Management Programme, WLRC has livened the consolidation, harmonization and management of data on land management in Ethiopia at large. Many of the participants branded the event as spectacular and WLRC as a collection of committed giant scholars and development actors.

The Reflection session facilitator Prof. Mitkie and Dr. Gete encouraged the participants to read the 17 policy briefs and other research products shared to them and to be WLRC’s ambassadors in encouraging policy and decision makers to use these salient findings and recommendations as inputs for policy. Then, Dr. Gete gave votes of thanks to the Guests of Honor, the Keynote Speakers, the session facilitators, the presenters, and the conference organizing committee for making the Conference a success.

Finally, the Conference was officially closed by Dr. Emebet Mulugeta, Academic Vice President and delegate of the President of the Addis Ababa University. Dr. Emebet accentuated her positive
notes over the glaring works and achievements of WLRC, and advised other organisations to learn from and replicate WLRC’s successes. Then, she recognized WLRC’s leadership and staff for the work well done, encouraged them to continue the excellent engagements, and declared the Conference officially