On 25 April, Kyoto University hosted a kick-off meeting for an international collaborative project to mitigate road disasters in Ethiopia. The event took place in the country’s capital city of Addis Ababa.
Many of Ethiopia’s numerous rural communities are frequently inaccessible because of ill-maintained roads. The KyotoU-led road-disaster mitigation project is focused on developing soil-stabilizing additives from local plants, and establishing methods for using them to solidify the soil that often swells and becomes muddy to make roads impassable. It is being implemented under the “Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS)” program, which promotes research collaboration between institutions in Japan and developing countries aimed at addressing global challenges requiring international cooperation, in areas such as environmental protection and disaster prevention. In the five-year undertaking, initiated earlier in the month, Kyoto University is partnering with the University of Miyazaki, Ehime University, the Nagoya Institute of Technology, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University (AASTU), Jinka University, and the Ethiopian Road Authority, with support provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) under SATREPS.
The kick-off meeting was organized by Professor Makoto Kimura of the Graduate School of Engineering, the project’s principal investigator, and Professor Masayoshi Shigeta, director of the KyotoU Center for African Area Studies (CAAS). In attendance were Ethiopian researchers and many others involved in the effort.
The program began with remarks from representatives from the Ethiopia side: AASTU President Nurelegne Tefera and Jinka University President Gebre Yntiso Deko. Both expressed hope that their relatively new institutions will benefit from this cooperative project in terms of human capital development and research skill enhancement.
Professor Kimura then explained that the project’s name, MNGD, both stands for “Making Networks for Global Development” and comes from menged, a word meaning “road” in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official working language. He went on to state that he would like to see the undertaking open a new road leading to increased academic exchange between Japan and Ethiopia. This was followed by project members presenting on their affiliated institutions, and sharing project details and research plans.
Finally, representing the guests, Mr Daisuke Matsunaga, Japanese ambassador to Ethiopia, delivered remarks, expressing his expectations for the collaborative research and its applications. “I am looking forward to seeing unique research from Kyoto University, which is renowned for its spirit of academic freedom, contribute to the Ethiopian society”, he said. The meeting concluded with a skull session where participants actively engaged in discussion.