Tigray turns to Bangor

March 10, 1995

Preventing famine in northern Ethiopia is the aim of a Pounds 190,000 World Bank-funded partnership programme between Bangor University and Tigray's Mekelle College.

The three-year-old college is located at a sensitive site. Until 1991 it was the headquarters of the Ethiopian army's northern command, which waged a 20-year-long war against the Tigraens.

Now the college is dedicated to preventing famine. With Bangor's help it is developing irrigation, dams, soil science and crop development projects.

Twenty staff from Bangor's centre for arid zone studies will spend up to a year in Tigray developing the curriculum and helping Mekelle with its teaching and research programmes.

In return, up to 12 lecturers from Tigray will visit Bangor, either to undertake MSc programmes or to learn new skills on specialist short courses.

"The aim is sustainable food production in Tigray," according to Ian Robinson, director of the arid zone studies centre. "And that is being developed via cost-effective technical assistance which the Ethiopian government can afford."

Costs are being kept down because Bangor has adopted a unique pairing system. Staff are being divided into two groups - "associate professionals" who will work full-time at Mekelle and "consultants" who will make regular monitoring visits.

This approach is supported by the World Bank and the Ethiopian education ministry. The hope is that Bangor can establish similar partnerships with colleges in other parts of Ethiopia when the Tigraen project ends in September 1996.

Dr Robinson believes it is a model that can be applied elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

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