School of Biosystems and Environmental Engineering - Soil and Water Conservation Engineering MSc program
- Published on Wednesday, 09 November 2011 06:29
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Soil and Water Conservation Engineering MSc program
Rationale for the curriculum:
Soil erosion and moisture deficit is one of the biggest global environmental problems resulting in both on-site and off-site effects. The economic implication of soil erosion is more serious in developing countries because of lack of capacity to cope with it and also to replace lost nutrients. These countries have also high population growth which leads to intensified use of already stressed resources and expansion of production to marginal and fragile lands. Such processes aggravate erosion and productivity declines, resulting in a population-poverty-land degradation cycle.
Rapid population growth, cultivation on steep slopes, clearing of vegetation, and overgrazing are the main factors that accelerate soil erosion in Ethiopia. The annual rate of soil loss in the country is higher than the annual rate of soil formation rate. Annually, Ethiopia losses over 1.5 billion tons of topsoil from the highlands to erosion which could have added about 1.5 million tons of grain to the country’s harvest. This indicates that soil erosion is a very serous threat to food security of people and requires urgent management intervention.
To circumvent the impacts of erosion, it is important to know the severity of the problem and the main controlling factors. Since different portions of the landscape vary in sensitivity to erosion due to differences in their geomorphological, geological, and vegetation attributes, it is also necessary to study and identify erosion risk areas in order to plan site-specific management interventions. Depending on the prevailing erosion processes and controlling factors, the efficiency of soil conservation measures may vary.
Recent research results conducted on the rift valley soils of the region (Southern Nation Nationalities Peoples Region, SNNPR) reveal that it is not the nutrient deficiency which is mainly limiting production (yield per unit area) but water shortage. The spatial and time variability of precipitation in the region is very high. The precipitation depth shows 30 to 35% variability. Total loss of yield is not uncommon. In rain fed agriculture, besides looking for drought resistance crops, subsistence agriculture is only possible with proper and efficient use of the available water.
Besides tapping other water resources to counteract the problem, a consolidated work is necessary to devise a mechanism to increase water productivity. In this reference, professionals addressing this gap are very rare and in this program it is intended to fill this gap.
To facilitate this proposal, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has demanded the improvement of Education to make it more relevant to local situations while having internationally acceptable standards. Therefore, the Ministry of Capacity Building of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, in partnership with the Federal Republic of Germany, launched Engineering Capacity Building Program. Engineering Education reform/overhaul which is being carried out in the Faculty of Technology is among the four tasks of this program.
The Faculty of Technology, Hawassa University, working with the expert supplied by ecbp has developed the initial curriculum in 2008. In general the curriculum was drafted with the objective of meeting knowledge and skill requirement of soil and water conservation engineers stated in the professional profile. The draft curriculum then was forwarded to the accreditation institutes for comments and further development..
Objectives and demand for the program
The program aims
- to produce high level manpower qualified in soil and water conservation,
- promote appropriate technologies in sustainable use of soil and water resources, protection of environment, rehabilitation of degraded land
- enhance effective and efficient use of scare natural resources focusing on improved land productivity
- develop and adapt technologies to conserve water in-situ and at micro, macro level and harvest water resources for their subsequent use in dry spell periods and dry climates
- perform research in soil conservation, effective use of rain water; engineering aspects as well as socio-economic.
- promote dissemination of proven technologies
As being the one role player of Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Strategic Plan the school of Biosystems and Environmental Engineering has planned to perform various vital activities to serve the local community and nationwide as far as possible. Of these:
- Providing professional capacity building programs for the university as well as the local community,
- Developing various demonstrational and practical field sites that will aid the teaching-learning process to enhance the Technology Transfer in line with the curricular activity,
- Publish standard quality papers on reputed journals that will contribute for the country as well as internationally.
- Develop MSc Degree Curriculum in Mechanization of Sugar Industries
- Working with regional as well as the national governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the process of environmental protection and natural resources development,
- Instigate institutional consultancy, supervisory, and design service.
- And other related tasks.
Currently the academic staff of the school is composed of professionals with the following qualifications; Three (3) with PhD, thirteen (13) with Msc, Six (6) with Bsc Degrees and one (1) with Degree and three (3) with Diploma as technical assistants. Some of the academic staff members are on study leaves accordingly, Six (6) for PhD and Seven (7) for MSc Degrees.
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