EENSAT Steering Committee meeting convened at Bahir Dar University on 30 October 2018. The Dean of ITC and the Vice president for research and Community Services of Bahir Dar University participated in the meeting. Other representatives from UT (ITC) and Bahir Dar University were also attending the meeting. The committee discussed on the status and achievements of the project, the status of the development of the research program and the mobilization of the PhD candidates, budget, finances and equipment, consortium agreement and the role of the Steering Committee, engagement with TVET colleges and network expansion to other actors.
The team spent a lot of time on progress achieved so far, challenges faced and forwarded recommendations for future activities. It was found that the project was designed under time pressure which resulted in a number of challenges to progress as was planned. For example there was a delay to mobilize PhD candidates. The committee has also discussed that most of the activities are in line with the GTP of the government. The agenda was concluded by clearly identifying activities to be implemented in the project period.
The next agenda for the committee was the development of a coherent research program, linkage of PhDs and Master’s program studies with emphasis on benefits for food security and agricultural transformation. There was a short presentation regarding how the research titles and study areas are selected. The committee appreciated how the PhD and Master’s students are planned to be linked in their study. As each of the PhD candidates supervises two MSc students from their respective universities, it will help to build capacities of the partner universities.
Reporting on budget and financial status of EENSAT program was also discussed during the meeting. One of the challenges in the project implementation was the financial contribution by the Ministry of Education. The agreement that exists between ITC and the Ministry of Education states that the Ministry will provide funding in yearly installments to the maximum of 10 % of the contribution from the Netherlands. Though a budget request was made to the Ministry of finance in June of 2018, no allocation was made and the situation remains unclear. The committee finally has decided to meet the responsible bodies in person and ask to keep their commitment for the success of the project. There was also a delay in using the transferred amount in ACDRM, as the center director passed away. It was recommended that the board of ACRDM should resolve this problem and the finances to be settled according to the project guidelines.
Two main action points have been identified that need follow-up: budget contribution by the Ethiopian Government through the Ministry of Education and the request for a Budget Neutral Extension (BNE) from Nuffic.
Finally the Steering committee meeting was concluded by signing the revised Consortium Agreement.